PFF: Cardinals defensive line in bottom half of league entering 2020

Jul 28, 2020, 7:10 AM

Defensive tackle Corey Peters #98 of the Arizona Cardinals chases quarterback Matthew Stafford #9 o...

Defensive tackle Corey Peters #98 of the Arizona Cardinals chases quarterback Matthew Stafford #9 of the Detroit Lions during the first half of the NFL game at State Farm Stadium on September 08, 2019 in Glendale, Arizona. The Lions and Cardinals tied 27-27. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

The Arizona Cardinals defensive line added starting pieces this offseason, but the changes weren’t enough for Pro Football Focus to rank the group in the top half of the league.

Even while including Chandler Jones in the group as an edge rusher, the Cardinals’ line was ranked No. 18 by PFF.

The website doesn’t like the corps that Arizona is bringing into the season. There isn’t much depth and two of the pieces that PFF expects to be contributors have almost no NFL experience between the two of them.

Jordan Phillips was one of the splashier free agency additions for the Cardinals, but PFF doesn’t sound like a fan of him as a player: Even film of his sacks were “unimpressive plays,” the site said.

Jordan Phillips had 10 sacks and might be confused for a legitimate pass-rush presence, but those sacks represented 10 of the 26 total pressures he managed all season long. The tape shows a series of unimpressive plays on those sacks. Phillips hasn’t topped 30 total pressures in a season and will likely be a run defender only this season.

The site called Corey Peters a “more proven version” of Phillips.

Pro Football Focus specifically mentioned Zach Allen and Leki Fotu as two players who could see time this year. Allen missed all but four games as a rookie due to injury, and Fotu was a fourth-round draft pick.

Allen needs to show major improvement for the Cardinals to be anything more than reliant on the skills of Jones again in 2020.

That’s the crux of the situation: Does Jones get any help this year?

“The lack of help for Jones could be a significant problem, as nobody currently on the roster had more than 26 total pressures a season ago.”

Jones is consistently among the best defenders in the league and was in the running for Defensive Player of the Year last season.

Yet he wasn’t enough for the team’s 2019 defense to be even close to average.

There are other players on the Cardinals who PFF did not mention who will fight for snaps.

Jonathan Bullard, who returns to the Cardinals as a fifth-year player, started six of nine games last season before an injury placed him on the IR.

Trevon Coley is entering his fourth season. He started almost every game for the Cleveland Browns in 2017 and 2018, but only played seven games total for the Indianapolis Colts last year.

Another fourth-round pick, Rashard Lawrence out of LSU, will fight for a role on the line, along with players like Michael Dogbe and Miles Brown.

There’s a lack of star power and depth among the linemen, but one positive for the group — outside of Jones as an edge rusher — is that it should be more stable entering the year than last season.

In 2019, Darius Philon and Robert Nkemdiche were expected to play large roles, but neither made the team after Nkemdiche was released for entering camp out of shape and Philon was arrested on assault charges and cut from the roster.


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PFF: Cardinals defensive line in bottom half of league entering 2020