ARIZONA CARDINALS

Optimism around Cardinals despite poor showing in early NFL power rankings

Feb 13, 2024, 4:09 PM

With the Kansas City Chiefs knocking off the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl LVIII, it’s onto the heart of the offseason for the Arizona Cardinals and the rest of the league. But not without first taking a look at the end-of-the-year — and way-too-early — NFL power rankings.

When it comes down to the Cardinals’ spot in any of the rankings dropping post-Super Bowl, there’s both room for improvement and optimism heading into Year 2 under general manager Monti Ossenfort and head coach Jonathan Gannon.

It’s no secret the Cardinals have holes to fill — most notably at wide receiver, defensive and offensive line, cornerback and pass rusher. How much do those needs in addition to a 4-13 mark from last season play into Arizona’s ranking this time around?

A roundup of power rankings from around the league ahead of both the NFL Draft Combine and 2024 NFL Draft:

NFL.com’s Eric Edholm

Rank: 29th

The 4-13 record in Jonathan Gannon’s first year might not look all that pretty on paper, but the Cardinals were a better team than I imagined they’d be. … Kyler Murray just seemed to be happy by season’s end, which is a good thing. The team was 3-5 with him starting, with a minus-36 point differential; they were 1-8 with a minus-89 point differential while waiting for him to return from a torn ACL.

The Cardinals aren’t one or two players away from toppling the 49ers, but there’s suddenly something interesting here. They’re in great shape, cap-wise, to make some targeted additions, and then they’ll have six picks in the first three rounds with which to hoover in more talent. Keep adding to both lines of scrimmage, address the secondary in a big way and find another offensive threat, and Arizona might be able to get cooking.

ESPN staff

Rank: 29th

Offseason in three words: Build the roster

The Cardinals saw glimpses of how good they could be throughout their four-win season, so now it’s time for Arizona to address a slew of deficiencies on both sides of the ball. The team will do that through free agency, which the Cardinals are expected to use to rebuild their defense, and the draft, where they are projected to address a significant need at WR1 with the No. 4 overall pick. Adding the right players — not necessarily a lot of players — could project the Cardinals into the playoff conversation next season.

Sporting News’ Vinnie Iyer

Rank: 22nd

There’s promise with a fully healthy Kyler Murray and the Cardinals having the capital to improve much around him. Jonathan Gannon got the defense on the right track with limited personnel, too. Consider them a playoff sleeper.

Bleacher Report staff

Rank: 28th

At first glance, Arizona’s 2023 campaign appears to have been a major disappointment—the team won just four games in Jonathan Gannon’s first year as head coach. But the Redbirds played much of the season without quarterback Kyler Murray, and three of the team’s four wins came against playoff squads. …

With the team’s quarterback seemingly in place, the Cardinals could be in position to add a player like Ohio State wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. with the fourth overall pick. The Cardinals also have over $41 million in cap space with which to attack free agency and a second pick in Round 1 at No. 27.

But the Cardinals also have some key players (safety Budda Baker and wide receiver Marquise Brown) set to hit free agency, and the last thing Gannon can afford is a second-year backslide.

The Athletic’s Josh Kendall

Rank: 31st

This is the offseason the Cardinals have been waiting for since last offseason. Arizona has $41.9 million in cap space and has three picks in the top 35 selections and seven of the top 104. No team will get a bigger facelift before the start of next season. One place where there won’t be a change is quarterback as the Cardinals have committed to keeping Kyler Murray.

Yahoo! Sports’ Frank Schwab

Rank: 27th

The rise of Jayden Daniels up the draft is a help to the Cardinals. They have the fourth overall pick and should be quite pleased if their late-season wins don’t cost them Marvin Harrison Jr. They have enough salary-cap space to make a couple of important additions in free agency too.

For The Win’s Robert Zeglinski and Christian D’Andrea

Rank: 29th

With Kyler Murray healthy, this offense gained at least 436 total yards in three of its last four games. The next step is drafting an impact wide receiver and finding the defensive upgrades needed to stay afloat in the NFC West.

FOX Sports’ David Helman

Rank: 22nd

I’m a lot higher on the Cards than a lot of others will be. They have a good coaching staff in place, and Kyler Murray can still play some quality ball. That’s a great starting point. Arizona also has $50 million in salary cap space and two first-round draft picks. This could be a greatly improved team by September.

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