The Cardinals had a massive rebuilding effort after the 2018 season, but the organization is moving in the right direction. The 2020 offseason will be remembered mostly for the addition of wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins in a steal of a trade with the Houston Texans. Hopkins immediately upgrades Arizona’s offense, and the trickle-down of his presence is felt throughout the roster.
Arizona didn’t have to force a wide receiver in the draft, instead opting for do-it-all defensive playmaker Isaiah Simmons, whose versatility adds a crucial piece to the back seven. In the third round, the Cardinals selected tackle Josh Jones — a first-round-caliber player on many draft boards — in what could become one of the steals of the draft.
A combination of the Hopkins splash move, value-based drafting and a 2019 draft class that could take a major step forward this season should have the Cardinals improving as much as any team in the league. A midseason trade for Kenyan Drake worked out for both sides, as he averaged 5.3 yards per carry after averaging only 3.7 in his first six games with the Dolphins. Drake has the burst to make do when given space to run, and that’s exactly what happened in Arizona’s spread-heavy system.
Backup running back Chase Edmonds also averaged over 5.1 yards per carry last season, posting a strong 76.3 rushing grade. Most importantly, Cardinals running backs averaged 2.06 yards before contact per rush last season — second-highest in the NFL — so that spread rushing attack is off to a good start despite the run-blocking grades not matching the production.
The Cardinals also added seventh-round pick Eno Benjamin, another tackle-breaker with the big-play potential to benefit from their system. The big question heading into 2020 is whether Drake’s production continues and if the Cardinals can get more out of the passing game from their top backs.