Each NFL season, every team has a player that bears a little added attention. So which performer could turn the corner for the Arizona Cardinals in ’17?
Welcome to the final installment in the latest 32-team series from End Zone Score. In recent months, we took the time to look at each club’s best offseason addition. We even dabbled into some pertinent and historical numbers.
Every NFL season features players that come into their own after a slow start to their careers. It’s tough to tell when each performer’s coming-put party will take place. Some are immediate successes. Others take longer due to numerous circumstances, but they prove to be worth the wait. Here we will try and pinpoint a player from each team in the league that we feel is on the verge of putting it altogether.
T D.J. Humphries
Despite the fact that only eight teams in the NFL gained more total yards per game and the club averaged 26.1 points per game in ’16, all was not completely well with the Arizona Cardinals’ attack. Yes, the team’s offensive unit totaled 48 touchdowns.
But Bruce Arians’ club also coughed up the football a disappointing 28 times, three-quarters of those miscues (21) by the quarterback combination of Carson Palmer (18) and Drew Stanton (3). It’s also worth noting that the Cardinals allowed 41 sacks this past season – quite a big jump from the previous year (27).
So this offseason, a decision was made to flip-flop offensive tackles. Unsung Jared Veldheer will now line up on the right side and young D.J. Humphries (a first-round pick in 2015) is on the left. The latter is Pro Football Focus’ 42nd-ranked tackle (Veldheer is at No. 29) and his struggles in pass protection this past year were an issue. On the positive side, Humphries graded out as a slightly-better run blocker than Veldheer. And as Pro Football Focus’ Zach Aulakh points out, the former University of Florida standout performed fairly well this past season when pressed into duty on the left side.
The move for both players figures to benefit this unit in a big way. And pairing the 23-year-old former Gator alongside left guard Mike Iupati will have its benefits as well. The Arizona Cardinals still have a lot of talent at the skill positions. Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald totaled an NFL-best 107 catches this past season. Running back David Johnson led the league in total yards from scrimmage (2,118) and touchdowns (20). And now with some improved play up front, look for a more consistent attack from Arians’ team this season.