The Ringer: Arizona Cardinals most improved team in NFC West
With the majority of early-NFL offseason transactions complete, The Ringer’s Robert Mays went through every division to analyze important moves.
He called the Cardinals the most improved team in the NFC West.
Pro Bowl wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins was the biggest piece. Received in a trade that revolved around running back David Johnson and the Cardinals’ second-round pick, Arizona got a receiver who has averaged 1,300 yards a year over the last six seasons.
“Could DeAndre Hopkins possibly have been traded to a more exciting destination?” Mays wrote.
“One of the league’s best receivers now gets to catch passes from an ascendant, ultra-talented quarterback in a wide-open, pass-happy scheme. I can’t wait to watch the Kliff, Kyler, and Nuk show in the desert.”
In interviews following the draft, Cardinals brass called Hopkins their second-round pick. Mays went with that same thought, adding him in with first-round pick Isaiah Simmons and third-round pick Josh Jones.
Simmons was a fixture in the top 10 of mock drafts and often slotted higher than No. 8. Jones was seen by many as a first-round talent.
“This could be a transformative offseason for a team that’s brimming with promise.”
Mays mentioned those three players in other segments of his NFC West portion.
For instant-impact veteran additions, Hopkins was listed alongside San Francisco 49ers offensive tackle Trent Williams and Seattle Seahawks tight end Greg Olsen.
Simmons and Jones were listed as two of the four most intriguing draft picks.
On Simmons: “Simmons might have been the best defensive player in this draft—a versatile playmaker who can line up at virtually any spot in the back seven.”
On Jones: “Jones played in an Air Raid system at Houston, which should give him a leg up with the concepts and terminology in Kingsbury’s offense.”
Also notably, Arizona was the only team in the NFC West that did not have a player mentioned in the most notable departures section. With three intriguing additions and nobody of mass importance having left yet, Mays seems to believe the Cardinals will improve.
Brandon Aiyuk was also mentioned as one of the four intriguing rookies. Drafted by the 49ers, the former Arizona State wide receiver excites Mays.
“The Niners clearly have a type at receiver, and it should be a blast to watch Kyle Shanahan devise ways to get Aiyuk opportunities after the catch.”