Low rankings and the Arizona Cardinals have become synonymous in 2023. So much, even their best position groups suffer in the eyes of major outlets.
Regardless of which rankings you look at online or even in NFL preview magazines, the Arizona Cardinals are getting no love whatsoever. Some of their position groups, like the offensive line and pass-catching corps, also rank low across the NFL landscape.
Now, it’s the linebackers taking a hit, as Dalton Wasserman of PFF ranks the Redbirds linebackers a meager 23rd out of 32. Now, this ranking is nowhere near as low as we’ve seen from other position groups, but it’s worth talking about nonetheless.
For one, I’m not sure if they missed something or what, but it looks like they missed the memo on the fact that Isaiah Simmons will be playing in the defensive backfield and Zaven Collins appears to be playing at edge or even defensive end. Here’s what they said in the piece regarding the duo:
"“The Cardinals continue to search for answers up front. Incumbents Zaven Collins and Isaiah Simmons haven’t quite lived up to their first-round billing. Both are incredibly athletic, but their talents are far more suited for coverage than stopping the run.”"- Dalton Wasserman
Arizona Cardinals linebackers hit with low ranking
While I won’t lie and pretend Isaiah Simmons and Zaven Collins have played lights out, it’s also premature to believe they underperformed as first round picks. But enough about Collins and Simmons. Let’s shift gears and talk about the players who will actually play in the unit this season.
Kyzir White and Krys Barnes are good enough to forge a formidable duo on the unit. If that wasn’t the case, then you would see Collins and Simmons lining up at linebacker in 2023. White and Barnes have been more than serviceable in their previous stops in Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and Green Bay, respectively, and rookie Owen Pappoe will also see time as a rotational piece.
Sadly, Wasserman never mentioned Barnes or Pappoe, and they only mentioned White in the final paragraph of their overall take. In short, the Arizona Cardinals linebackers deserve more respect simply for the fact the coaching staff clearly believe White, Barnes, and Pappoe can hold things down well enough to move Simmons and Collins to entirely different units on the defense.
Source: 2023 NFL linebacker unit rankings: San Francisco 49ers claim the top spot for second consecutive year by Dalton Wasserman, PFF.com