Arizona Cardinals’ O-line ranks in PFF’s ‘uninspiring’ tier

Jun 13, 2022, 9:15 AM
D.J. Humphries #74 of the Arizona Cardinals looks on during the fourth quarter against the Clevelan...
D.J. Humphries #74 of the Arizona Cardinals looks on during the fourth quarter against the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium on October 17, 2021 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Nick Cammett/Getty Images)
(Photo by Nick Cammett/Getty Images)

Relative stability along the Arizona Cardinals’ offensive line has not led to any such steadiness when it comes to judging their production.

Pro Football Focus ranked the O-line 21st heading into the 2020 season and then 11th last year. And looking to 2022, the Cardinals are back to the bottom-third of the NFL, according to PFF’s Michael Renner. That would lead off the fifth tier in the rankings labeled as “uninspiring.”

This is one of the most veteran-laden offensive lines in the NFL. The average age of Arizona’s five starters come Week 1 will be over 30 years old. While that might sound “stable,” it also sounds like injury red flags. Justin Pugh, Rodney Hudson and Kelvin Beachum are all firmly on the downswings of their careers, and the Cardinals can’t afford for any of them to fall off a cliff.

It’s notable that PFF has different authors writing on the rankings year-to-year. At the same time, those rankings are based off the website’s grading system.

That Renner is expecting so little out of Arizona’s group is a tad surprising because of who remains on the line.

D.J. Humphries, who enters a contract year, is the longest-tenured Cardinal, and left guard Justin Pugh has been around the entire Kliff Kingsbury era that enters its fourth season.

Beachum will play in his third season at right tackle for Arizona, with center Hudson entering his second season and projected starting right guard Will Hernandez the newest of the bunch.

Arguably, the line is the offensive position group that has the least amount of worry around it considering Kyler Murray’s contractual situation, plus the losses at receiver (Christian Kirk leaving and DeAndre Hopkins’ suspension) and running back (Chase Edmonds’ departure in free agency).

Addressing any injury concerns, Arizona has experience on the depth chart as well. Justin Murray could still push for a starting role and has started at right guard and tackle in the past few years.

Additionally, Arizona’s own draft picks, Josh Jones and Joshua Miles, have been in the system for more than two seasons now.

As for the starters, PFF was not the only analytical site to notate a decline in the Cardinals’ individual offensive line play over the past year. Sports Information Solutions gave Pugh and Beachum especially high grades in 2020, but all of Arizona’s regulars fell off last season.

Regardless of the reasons for such rankings, it could be bulletin board material inside run-game coordinator and offensive line coach Sean Kugler’s meeting rooms this year.

As Pugh said of Pro Football Focus back in 2019: “If I say something bad about Pro Football Focus, it’s going to affect my rating next week. I’m going to say it anyways. They don’t know scheme. At the end of the day if we run a misdirection — we do things in our offense that not a lot of teams do — Pro Football Focus has no idea.”

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