Head Coach: Kliff Kingsbury
2020 Record: 8-8
9 weeks into the season, the Cardinals were looking good. 6-3, fresh off a hail mary miracle over the Bills, Kyler Murray suddenly looking like a superstar, thanks in no small part to the addition of all-world WR Deandre Hopkins… life was good. The Cardinals were back. Until they weren’t. Arizona limped across the finish line, finishing 8-8 and missing the playoffs.
2021 Draft Picks
1-16 LB Zaven Collins, Tulsa
2-49 WR Rondale Moore, Purdue
4-136 DB Marco Wilson, Florida
6-210 LB Victor Dimukeje, Duke
6-223 DB Tay Gowan, Central Florida
7-243 DB James Wiggins, Cincinnati
7 -247 C Michal Menet, Penn State
The Cardinals did some gambling with this year’s draft. Collins is a big talent, but didn’t face top line talent. Moore is a playmaker, but is small and injury prone. There are a number of potential starters in their later picks, but how those two pan out will determine how this class grades out.
Key Pick Ups
A.J. Green – WR (from Bengals)
James Conner – RB (from Steelers)
J.J. Watt – DE (from Texans)
Malcolm Butler CB- From Titans
So… 3 guys here. Every one of which could drastically improve this team. Watt isn’t the monster he once was, but he’s still one of the best disrupters in the game. Green will make doubling Hopkins impossible, and Connor could have a career year. Butler is only a slight downgrade from Peterson.
Larry Fitzgerald – WR (FA)
Kenyan Drake – RB (to Raiders)
Patrick Peterson- CB (to Vikings)
It as time for Fitz to go, before he became a parody of what he once was, as too many great ones do. Drake to Connor is an upgrade. Peterson, however, will be missed
Offensive Coordinator: None
2020 Points Scored: 410 (13th)
Murray has enough toys tat hand to think his abstention will continue. The combination of Green and Hopkins is as good a 1-2 punch at receiver as almost any group in the league. This will open up the field, and while Murray’s stats should grow, the running game will be more effective s well, creating what could be a scary balanced unit.
Defensive Coordinator: Vance Joseph
2020 Points Allowed: 367 (12th)
Despite losing Peterson, the Cardinals D has the chance to be outstanding. The pass rush should be explosive, and the if the back end can just be good, this will be a top 5, dominant unit.
The Cardinals’ special teams was bad in 2020, and there isn’t much reason to think they’ll improve in 2021, a s pretty much the same cast and crew are all back again.
If Things Go Well
Murray makes the leap to elite QB with his armory of skill player weapons. The D is a disruptive force. They’re still in the toughest division in the NFL, and special teams will probably cost a game or two along the way, but still a playoff team in 2021..
If They Don’t
If Murray doesn’t up his game, and we find out Green’s off 2020 in Cincy wasn’t a fluke, but the beginning of his demise, the offense, while good, won’t be as explosive as hoped. The secondary doesn’t live up to expectations, either, and the Cardinals are average yet again.
There’s just too much upside on both sides of the ball for this to not be a team at least competing for a post season slot.
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