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The offensive line best in the West?

Posted by Darren Urban on May 27, 2015 – 3:03 pm

The tweet came from SiriusXM NFL Radio over the weekend, with host and former NFL QB Jim Miller saying that it is the Cardinals with the best offensive line in the NFC West. (His partner, Pat Kirwan, has the Cardinals second behind Seattle.) My first reaction, which I tweeted, was that I couldn’t remember the last time someone held the Cardinals’ offensive line in such high regard. It makes sense, with the Cardinals’ big free-agent purchase the past two offseasons being offensive linemen (Jared Veldheer and Mike Iupati) in addition to a No. 1 draft pick (Jonathan Cooper.)

Veldheer was asked about being compared — on both the offensive and defensive line — to the Seahawks, and the tackle was pretty blunt.

“I think they’re both solid lines, but I’d take our guys any day over those guys,” Veldheer said. “That’s part of the fun part, too, getting that rivalry going, wanting to puff your chest out more than the guy across the line from you.”

In terms of the division’s offensive lines, the reality is the bar has dropped some. The Seahawks traded their center Max Unger to get tight end Jimmy Graham, who may help in catching the ball but won’t much as a blocker. The Rams have added defensive linemen aplenty of late but seem to have ignored the need on the offensive line. The 49ers lost one of their better lineman when Iupati came to Arizona. As for the Cardinals, they have upgraded. You can see why someone would consider them the best unit in the division. But as always, it’s difficult to tell much of anything on the offensive line in the offseason. What is done in the offseason isn’t enough of football to be sure the line will translate once the games actually start.

Then again, it’s better to be thought of as the best this time of year than the alternative.

OLbest

 


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Posted in Blog | 23 Comments »


23 Responses to “The offensive line best in the West?”

  1. By Ottis Anderson Fan on May 27, 2015 | Reply

    Would be nice to see DJ Humphries sign his slotted contract. Not that it really matters – other than ticking-off your GM, coach and owner – but for a guy with so little experience and seen as a developmental prospect, I thought he’d be one of the first first-round picks to sign his contract. Given that Arians has said the tackle “needs to mature a little bit” and that his progress has been slow, I think DJ digs himself a little deeper hole every day he doesn’t sign a contract.

  2. By Darren Urban on May 27, 2015 | Reply

    Ottis —

    RE: Humphries

    With all due respect, the contract has nothing to do with anything, and the fact he has not signed indicates only that it hasn’t been signed. It’s May 27. It’s no big deal.

  3. By kauaicardsfan on May 27, 2015 | Reply

    Aloha Darren,
    I think we may have to go way back to the 70’s when Dan Dierdorf was on the line to say the Cardinals had one of the best offensive lines? Good to see Kiem and staff address this need which was plaguing us for decades !

    Go Cards! Cant wait for the season to start!!!

  4. By D on May 27, 2015 | Reply

    I have said recently I think the Left side of the Oline is one of the best in Football right now, the jury still out on the right side. I don’t think our Center will be more than average whoever ends up starting. Seattle’s line get’s so much praise because of their RB, this is the year AZ’s RB’s need to step up.

  5. By Steve . on May 27, 2015 | Reply

    I was a little bit down on the selection of Humphries but I think Darren mentioned last season that the one player the Cards could not afford to lose to injury was Veldheer. Humphries gives us another legitimate LT as insurance to protect Palmer in case Jared goes down. Everything hinges on the group being able to stay healthy,play together and become a cohesive unit. I still remember when the Cards drafted Andre Wadsworth and just about everyone called our D-line the best with Simeon Rice, Mark Smith and Eric Swann playing alongside him. I believe that unit all played together in a game just 4 or 5 times because of injuries.

  6. By Whitey on May 27, 2015 | Reply

    I think this is a no brainer that the Cards will have the best OL in the NFC West this year. The Seahawks line will be really bad this year. The only player on their line to grade positively last year by PFF was Unger and he was close to the best Center in the league. That’s a huge loss. Everyone else was terrible.

    I fully expect Russel Wilson to be running around constantly behind a porous line, and it’ll be interesting to see if they can create any holes for Lynch this year.

    People think their trade for Jimmy Graham was a great deal, but they basically gave up two first round picks for him.

    I can’t wait to see a healthy Ellington and David Johnson running behind potenially three 1st rounders and a great left tackle in Veldheer.

  7. By Scott H on May 27, 2015 | Reply

    Well, I might agree that on paper, the Cardinals would appear to have the best O-line. On paper, they appear to have the most talent. But it has to materialize on the field, or else it doesn’t matter. So….I’m waiting to see it.

    I’m not gonna fault anyone for having the opinion that Seattle has the better O-line right now. Because they have one of THE best RB’s in the NFL and one of THE best QB’s in the NFL helping to make that case. And right now? How can you argue with that?

    During the years 2007 through 2009, I don’t think the Cardinals had an O-line that ANYONE would have put on their lists of the better units in the league. But with the way Warner was playing at that time? He made their jobs easier and made them look better than they were. Other teams had better O-lines. MANY teams had better O-lines! But who was playing in the Super Bowl? The offense was built to suit Warner’s abilities and he had the weapons to make it fly. They were a passing offense and with Warner’s ability to read defenses and beat blitzes by getting rid of the ball quickly, defenses were often forced to back off because they knew Warner could kill them if they didn’t get there. I think that served to make things easier for the O-line and never really exposed them for being as, well…average as they were.

    IMHO, O-lines always have to be evaluated in the context of the entire offense. Good / great O-lines can make the skill position players better. And it can also go the other way.

    All that said, I really am excited to see this line take the field this year. We have the horses. They have to get on the field and make it happen.

  8. By PFTcensorsRULE on May 27, 2015 | Reply

    It’s a joke to even consider the Seahawks having anything but an average line. Wilson is running for his life about every other play. Losing Unger won’t make it any better.

  9. By jeffcardinalfan on May 28, 2015 | Reply

    would b great to see one of out young ol guys turn into dierdorf and another to b Conrad dobler-we could use “nasty” guy up front

  10. By shooter28 on May 28, 2015 | Reply

    SEA’s offensive line sucks , it is one of the worst in the NFL and by no means better than AZ’s. Pro Football Focus ranked their LT 36th of 84 w/ a -1.5 overall grade, and he is seriously injury prone never playing a full 16 games in a season ever. They lost their starting LG Carpenter who a false start machine who wasn’t that good, lost their very good but injury prone Pro Bowl Center Max Unger and are replacing those guys with bottom of the barrel UDFA’s who ranked very low among the worst in PFF’s rankings. At RG JR Sweezy 51st out of 78 ranked overall w/ a -7.6 grade , his negative -10.7 grade in pass protection ranks 64th of 78 ranked , giving up 4 sacks , his 6 QB hits were the 6th most at the position & his 23QB pressures he gave up also ranked as the 6th most in the NFL.. They drafted RT Justin Britt last season who is a massive bust , ranking 74th overall of 84 ranked OT’s with a -18.5 overall grade, his -17.6 pass protecting grade ranked 81st of 84, his 38 pressures he gave up ranks him 81 of 84 OT’s again , giving up 5 sacks to match. Britt is horrible. The guy who ranked SEA’s line above AZ’s must be a part-time NFL fan, because that is just crazy talk.

    Arizona on the other hand has a excellent offensive line that is going to be in the running for the NFLs best line this next season. 4 of their 5 offensive linemen are elite special 1st round caliber ( Jared Veldheer came out of a tiny college so he was taken in round 3 but he has developed into one of the NFLs elite best LT’s & is obviously a high 1st round caliber talent looking back, and AZ’s other 3 O-line starters Iupati, Cooper, Humphries , were all 1st round picks) offensive linemen.

    At Left Tackle 6″8 325 pound LT Jared Veldheer is a absolute monster top 10 elite LT, Pro Football Focus ranked him 8th out of 84 ranked OT’s , Veldheer ranks in the top 5 among just LTs , is excellent elite pass protector giving up only 1 sack and that sack was Logan Thomas’s fault not Veldheer’s & Veld is a absolute mauler run blocking to boot. At LG Arizona went out and signed one of the top 3 best OG’s in the NFL in 6″5 330 pound LG Mike Iupati. He was coming off a broken leg ( Broke it January 2014 in NFC-CG) and played thru a broken foot last season as well, and still ranked among the best with Pro Football Focus ranking 11th overall of 78 ranked with a plus +10.9 overall grade, and ranked as the 2nd best ranked run blocking OG out of 78 ranked w/ a +18.9 overall grade. Iupati is a MASSIVE upgrade and will massively improve Arizona’s run game as Andre Ellington and RB David Johnson are going to absolutely love to run behind the pair of Veldheer & Iupati , as the combo of LT J. Veldheer/LG Mike Iupati makes for what one of but very likely thee best LT/LG combo in the NFC-W. Either A.Q Shipley or Ted Larsen are both good solid Centers who are big time upgrades over the wornout Lyle Sendlein. Arians and GM Steve Keim are absolutely raving about 2013 1st round 7th overall pick Johnathan Cooper saying he looks unbelieveable on the field now that he is 100% healthy. Cooper is a elite talent & will be an absolute monster at RG at 6″2 3/4in tall 312 pounds. When he played in the last couple games last season, AZ had their 2 best rushing performances of the year rushing for 136 against KC & 151 Yards against a Rams defense that hadn’t allowed more than 60 yards rushing in 7 weeks , until they faced Arizona. Cooper has redefined his body , adding more upper body power giving him elite strength but still has the elite athleticism & elite quickness/speed , technique & ability to mirror in pass protection with the ability to get to the 2nd level in the blink of an eye. I believe Cooper is actually better suited at RG , and being that he knows the offense inside n out & is now 100% healthy, is going to explode and have a Pro Bowl caliber year.

    Arizona drafted their LT of the future in 6″5 310 pound DJ Humphries who was widely considered by just about every scout and analysts as the best LT prospect in this draft. Had he returned for 1 more season, he would of most definitely been a top 5 overall pick next draft season. Humphries has elite strength/power with the feet of a ballerina , he reminds of & is very often compared to the Cowboys young LT Tyron Smith, who is the same size as Hump but is also a elite athlete playing LT. Arizona starting DJ Humphries is extremely smart to do , breaking him in on the right side rather than against elite pass rushers week in and week out at LT. It is still very early in the off-season as we aren’t even in June yet, but once he DJ Humphries learns this offense he is going to EASILY beat out RT Bobby Massie, as Humphries is just so much more athletically gifted as a tackle Massie doesn’t stand much of a chance once Humphries learns this offense in and out & can play without thinking. By the 3rd week of the Pre-Season I would bet money DJ Humphries is going to have the offense down pat & will be the teams starting LT.

    Arizona’s offensive line is easily going to be the best in the NFC-W , W/ Jared Veldheer at LT – LG Mike Iupati – OC Ted Larsen ( I am betiting Larsen wins)- RG Johnathan Cooper- RT D.J Humphries. Arizona is also going to have excellent quality back-up depth , with Bruce Arians saying 6″4 & 300 pounds of solid muscle OG Earl Watford is ready to start, 6″2 1/2 305 pound C/G A.Q Shipley, RG/C Anthony Steen , Swing OT Bradley Sowell, RT Bobby Massie. Arians and Keim have done an amazing job not only rebuilding the O-Line, but building the Offensive Line into a top 5 offensive line that has what it takes to be ranked as the best in the NFL by mid season.

  11. By Jerry on May 28, 2015 | Reply

    Do you think the Cards will keep 6 running backs?

  12. By clssylssy on May 28, 2015 | Reply

    Until we hit the field against the Saints, all is speculation and wishful thinking. The proof has yet to be proven but we can at least entertain guarded optimism that the Cards are moving forward in fixing some of the things that were broken.
    Now, if we could just feel as optimistic about the strength of our QB situation. While Palmer is hot when healthy, his durability still makes me nervous and, it would seem we didn’t learn anything about putting “all our eggs in one basket”.

  13. By fudgemnky on May 28, 2015 | Reply

    With the yearly talk of new contracts and holding out/etc, we have to remember these rookies are 20-24 years old coming out of college with not much experience in the real world. A lot of teams put them through finance & money management classes before they are eligible to sign their contract and it’s a very good thing for them to sign a bit later(June-ish).

    Can you expand on this Darren? I’d love to know if the FO puts our own rookies through that process like some other teams.

  14. By Darren Urban on May 28, 2015 | Reply

    Fudge —

    RE: Classes

    Anthony Edwards, the team’s senior director of player development, holds such classes for the rookies. They aren’t necessarily before the contract is signed, but it is before they break for the offseason.

  15. By cards62 on May 28, 2015 | Reply

    Our offensive line has hope and it all begins with hope and we have not had that for many years concerning our OL. Shooter28 I really like your research on Seattle line and 2 of our starters Veldheer and Iupati. I think we all agree that a team can not do much better than those 2, but unfortunately that is only 33% of our line counting 1 TE. So we have to hope now that Cooper has a break out year and plays to his level in college at North Carolina and that Humphries becomes a stud. Humphries played his high school ball in NC was 5 stars and most recruiting services had him as a top 15 player at any position in the country his senior year of high school. Little injury prone at Florida,a concern, and technique not always solid so hopefully our guys can coach him up. I think, I mean hope, no I mean pray that he beats out Massie just like Seattle’s DEs kept beating Massie last year. I think Humphries will win the job by game 8 or game 9, Seahawks. If we can just get average out of our center position I will be happy and knowing coach like I do he will find a good blocking TE. Palmer is our key to long term success in 2015 so if our line can make our running game top 15 or better I really think our offense will purr in 2015 with Palmer not being forced to throw the ball 40 or more times a game. Iupati is my favorite off season move we made this year.

    Go Cards and did you guys know 3 of our first 4 games next year are at home and the road game is at the Bears, very winnable and nice to play there in September instead of December so here to hoping we start the season 4 – 0.

    Its funny but for the past x number of years my major concerns have been our OL and quarterback and this year my major concern is our front 7 on defense.

  16. By Scott H on May 28, 2015 | Reply

    shooter28 –

    OK. And after all that you say about Seattle’s O-line, the FACT remains that they have played in the last 3 NFC title games and the last two SB’s ( BOTH of which they should have won ). And yet, you say their O-line sucks? Well, with all due respect, that really sounds foolish.

    For 2015? Well, we can HOPE their O-line sucks. And we can HOPE our O-line is as good as its talent. But we won’t know either until we are well into the coming season.

    But as for what has been the last few years? Seattle’s O-line sucks? Sorry, that makes no sense. Show me whatever rankings or stats you want. They went to the last 2 SB’s. That does NOT happen with teams who’s O-line sucks.

    And if it DOES? Then give ME an O-line that sucks like theirs’ does so MY team can get to a few consecutive SB’s!

  17. By John The Draft Guy on May 28, 2015 | Reply

    Wow, Talk about putting the horse in front of the cart.

    I will say this, Iupati and Veldheer is a very strong left side.
    But everything else is a question mark.

    Shipley and Larsen are two career backups. Cooper has two starts in two years and Massie was in need for an upgrade (Humphries has to make it off field two before he enters the conversation)

    Potential sure. But Potential gets coaches fired. This is an OLine that has not protected well and has been one of the worst teams at running the ball.

    It looks like the OLine may be a strength, but until they take the field and show it, I’ll reserve judgement on them being one of the best.

  18. By Darren Urban on May 28, 2015 | Reply

    JTDG —

    RE: Ranking

    Again, we’re talking in the context of the NFC West. I don’t disagree with your assessment. But I don’t know if any of the lines in the NFCW would rank among the league’s best.

  19. By Scott H on May 28, 2015 | Reply

    PFTcensors rule –

    Wilson is running for his life on just about every play? Oh, c’mon man! When have you EVER seen a team win as many games as the Seahawks have the last few years with a QB who is running for his life on every other play???? THAT does not make sense, either. And it doesn’t happen.

    Have you actually WATCHED any of these games??? Because if you have / had, you might see a QB that has a truly special ability to make plays when he moves around and buys time to find an open man down the field to get the ball to. My God, man, how many times has he KILLED the Cardinals during his career to this point by doing just that??? THERE IS A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN WHAT WILSON DOES AND A QB WHO IS RUNNING FOR HIS LIFE!

    And the difference is this – QB’s who do what Wilson does go to SB’s and possibly the Hall of Fame someday. Russell Wilson IS that good. QB’s who run for their lives on every play typically play for teams who end up with 4-12 records and end up in a new place every 2 years or so.

    Again, have whatever opinion you want to have about this. Reality says you are just flat out wrong. Russell Wilson has played 3 seasons and has yet to NOT play in an NFC title game. Trust me – he did not get there by running for his life on every other play. He got there by being special.

  20. By keith rubio on May 28, 2015 | Reply

    Great line, some solid running backs, but need a one year bruiser-Steven Jackson

  21. By Scott H on May 28, 2015 | Reply

    JTDG –

    Thank you for doing nothing more than saying the only thing that anyone really can say right now – until these guys get on the field and prove that they are as good as the talent they appear to have, who can say who ranks where???

    Yeah, I would probably rank the Cards as having the best line, too, based on the names on the roster. So what? Doing it on the field over a 16-game season is what matters. And that is yet to be seen.

  22. By Chris A on May 29, 2015 | Reply

    When evaluating o-lines, i think you have to evaluate them seperately as a run-blocking unit and as a pass-blocking unit. Seattles line was a very good run-blocking unit, but it seemed like Wilson was running for his life on every other pass play, so i have no idea how you could rate that unit as anything but average. And the loss of Unger will severly hurt their run game, more than i think people are expecting.
    That being said i think its a no-brainer to call the Cards line the best in the NFC west, at least on paper. Im hopeful that they will show that come next season.

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