Ranking the Arizona Cardinals defensive linemen for 2023

Houston Texans v Arizona Cardinals
Houston Texans v Arizona Cardinals / Chris Coduto/GettyImages

The Arizona Cardinals defensive line is without a doubt the weakest position unit on the team. But someone needs to rank #1.

Let’s face it: if the Arizona Cardinals linebackers cannot converge, the defensive line will be by far weaker than they already are. Even an optimist such as myself can’t ignore the fact that this could be the bleakest list of 4-3 interior linemen or 3-4 linemen in the team’s recent history. 

But as I said in the intro: Someone needs to rank #1. So who gets the spotlight? Keep reading to find out. 

Ranking the Arizona Cardinals defensive linemen

10 - Jacob Slade

Jacob Slade signed with the Arizona Cardinals as an undrafted free agent, and although I have him ranked 10th, it’s clear that he has about as good of a chance as anyone at winning a starting spot on the line given how weak the position group is. If he impresses in camp, Slade will get a longer look. 

9 - Eric Banks

Eric Banks has seen action in just four games over his first two years in the NFL. But like Slade, he’s with the right unit if he wants to start a few games in 2023, assuming he turns heads in camp. 

8 - Jonathan Ledbetter

Jonathan Ledbetter saw time in 14 games last season, recording 22 tackles, a sack, and two tackles behind the line. He also added three starts, and although he’s ranked eighth, Ledbetter’s experience on the Arizona Cardinals could, if he improves, put him further up on this list. 

7 - Ben Stille

The Cardinals liked Ben Stille enough to claim him off waivers on May 10th and he’s stuck around ever since. He saw time in seven games last season, making one start, with five career tackles. Once again, if he wants more playing time, he’s with the right group. 

6 - Rashard Lawrence

Ranking Rashard Lawrence so low even in these rankings may come as a shock to you, especially with four newcomers ahead of him. But he has yet to show us that he can stay healthy over a long period. 

5 - Dante Stills

One of my favorite picks of the 2023 draft. Thanks to the fact that the Arizona Cardinals drafted Dante Stills, you can expect to see him embark on the fast track to at least see an expanded role if he proves he can adapt to the NFL.

4 - L.J. Collier

A colossal draft bust over the first bust over his first four seasons, L.J. Collier has just 16 starts and 45 career games. Despite the harsh words, Collier at least showed potential in 2020 when he racked up three sacks, 22 combined tackles, four tackles for loss, and seven quarterback hits during his time with the Seattle Seahawks. 

3 - Kevin Strong

Kevin Strong saw 16 games last season and one start with the Tennessee Titans. Another young player who flashed potential, having racked up 23 combined stops, Strong is also more than familiar with general manager Monti Ossenfort. 

2 - Leki Fotu

Unlike Rashard Lawrence, Leki Fotu has at least stayed healthy. What’s more? Fotu also turned in his best season as an Arizona Cardinal in 2022, recording 31 tackles, a fumble recovery, one tackle behind the line, and a pair of quarterback hits. 

1 - Carlos Watkins

And finally, we got Carlos Watkins, who is a proven role player in this league. While we don’t need Watkins starting long-term, he’s been productive in his role in each of his previous stops, and we can expect in the desert. Look for Watkins to also be a leader on the defensive unit. 

(Statistics provided by Pro-Football-Reference)