The Cardinals made plenty of changes heading into the 2019 season.
Arizona fired its coach, Steve Wilks, and replaced him with Kliff Kingsbury from the college ranks. The Cardinals badly mismanaged the trade of Josh Rosen, their 2018 first-round quarterback, and drafted Kyler Murray with the No. 1 pick in 2019.
Arizona is trying to find its footing with Kingsbury and Murray entering their second seasons; the Cardinals hope to figure their way out of the cellar of the NFC West with their latest additions from the 2020 NFL Draft.
Arizona's 2020 draft picks:
- No. 8: Isaiah Simmons, LB, Clemson
- No. 72: Josh Jones, OT, Houston
- No. 114: Leki Fotu, IDL, Utah
- No. 131: Rashard Lawrence, IDL, LSU
- No. 202: Evan Weaver, LB, Cal
- No. 222: Eno Benjamin, RB, Arizona State
Best Pick: Josh Jones
In terms of value, this is the team’s best pick. Jones is a very good athlete that can anchor and handle the bull rush. He was even thought of as a first-round pick. If Arizona believes Murray is its franchise quarterback then he needs to be afforded more protection. In 2019, Murray was sacked more than any passer, an alarming 48 times. Jones could start out as a right tackle and eventually move to the left.
Biggest Surprise: Isaiah Simmons
The Cardinals have had offensive line issues for years. The No. 8 pick would have been a good place to take one of the top tackles still on the board. Instead, Arizona opted for Simmons. He’s a better athlete than he is a football player; someone with that type of athleticism should be making far more plays. He has some jack of all trades, master of none to his skill set. The Cardinals are an odd front team, so Simmons is not a true fit for their base defense. He will not be an edge setter and, although he has aligned on the back end, isn’t an ideal fit their either.
Day 3 Sleeper: Leki Fotu
Benjamin could have gotten this nod, but Arizona’s defense has been porous, particularly its run defense. Fotu will align at the nose and improve one of the Cardinals’ biggest weaknesses. He has some initial quickness off the snap for his size; he may be able to push the pocket on third downs as well.
X-Factor: Fixing the defense
The jury is still out of the Kingsbury-Murray combination, but the early results are promising. The Cardinals’ offense is exciting to watch and will score points. However, the defense was in disarray. Teams can have the best defensive coach implementing the best scheme, but they still need players. Arizona has added some players that will contribute early. Simmons should help the Cardinals cover tight ends better. In 2019, they gave up more yardage to TEs than any team in the NFL.
Quarterbacks can cover a multitude of sins. The Cardinals’ roster has had major holes for many years. I have real reservations about Kingsbury’s ability to coach an entire team and often wonder about Arizona’s direction; but when teams have a good passer, it apparently affords them a 1,000-foot leash and several mulligans.