ARIZONA CARDINALS

Cardinals land 28th in PFF’s 2024 roster rankings

Jun 2, 2024, 6:56 AM

Pro Football Focus have the Arizona Cardinals' rushing attack as the biggest strength for the team ...

Running back James Conner #6 of the Arizona Cardinals rushes the football against the Seattle Seahawks during the second half of the NFL game at State Farm Stadium on January 07, 2024 in Glendale, Arizona. The Seahawks defeated the Cardinals 21-20. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

The Arizona Cardinals enter the 2024 NFL season with higher expectations behind a healthier Kyler Murray, the addition of wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. and an influx of free-agent talent following a 4-13 finish a year prior.

Pro Football Focus’ Jim Wyman and Dalton Wasserman, however, still have the Arizona Cardinals’ roster near the bottom in on-paper talent at 28th overall following the NFL Draft.

A big reason for that ranking was Arizona’s defense from a year prior.

The Cardinals fielded the lowest-graded defense in the NFL in Jonathan Gannon’s first season as head coach. They equally struggled in the run and pass games and had only three defensive players finish with 68.0-plus overall grades. They selected six defensive players in this year’s draft in the hope of infusing talent into a porous unit.

Of those six defenders taken in the draft were first-rounder Darius Robinson out of Missouri and cornerback Max Melton out of Rutgers, two names that could threaten for playing time at two positions of need right away as rookies.

Arizona also made a concerted effort to improve the defense through free agency behind the additions of Justin Jones, Bilal Nichols, Sean Murphy-Bunting and Mack Wilson Sr.

So, while the Cardinals defense was labeled as a weak point in 2023, improvement should be on the way in the desert.

That thinking mixed with a stepped-up offensive attack that was among the best in the league to finish the year should have Arizona over the 6.5-win mark in 2024, said Wyman and Wasserman.

Arizona boasted a much more viable offense once Kyler Murray returned to the field in Week 10 last year. From Weeks 10-18, the Cardinals boasted the 10th-highest-graded offense in the NFL. Now, they have Murray at the helm for a full season, as well as rookies Marvin Harrison Jr. and Trey Benson, to hang their hopes on. They still need plenty of work on the defensive side of the ball, but this is an underrated offense that will at least keep the team competitive in a lot of matchups.

What else are they saying about the Cardinals?

In addition to pinpointing Arizona’s strength and weakness from a year ago, Wyman and Wasserman also gave their picks for the team’s X-factor (Paris Johnson Jr.) and rookie (Marvin Harrison Jr.) to watch.

Paris Johnson Jr. had a decent rookie season overall but played much better in the second half of the year. From Weeks 10-18, Johnson posted a 70.7 overall grade, and he did not allow a sack or a hit in his final three games. The Cardinals’ offensive line improved along with Johnson, and further development from him would give Kyler Murray a chance to succeed in his first full season back from injury.

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