Drilling in: Defensive Linemen

© Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Cardinals Defensive Linemen unit analysis

Starters - LDE Markus Golden, DT Robert Nkemdiche, DT Corey Peters, RDE Chandler Jones. Backups - Djeri Moubarek, Olsen Pierre, Rodney Gunter, Benson Mayowa, Owen Obasuyi, Pasoni Tasini, Siupeli Anau, Vontarrius Dora, Alec James.

There are a couple of "ifs" here, but they aren't exactly huge ones. And yet, it could be the difference between this being the strongest unit of the entire team or perhaps the weakest. It hinges mostly on Jones returning to All-Pro form, which he should as he's accumulated the most sacks (28) and tackles for loss (43) than anybody in the league during the past two seasons. In addition to setting a single-season franchise record and NFL-leading 17 sacks last season, Jones also led the league with 28 tackles for loss and 38 quarterback hits in 2017. The "ifs" part of the equation is twofold: Has Golden recovered enough following ACL surgery to be the same force he was prior to getting hurt and can he make a seamless transition from outside linebacker to defensive end? And, has Nkemdiche truly earned the respect and trust of the new coaching staff to make them stick with him as a first-time full-time starter following two very underwhelming and unproductive seasons in the NFL? Peters is a pro's pro and will handle his business, but the depth is only so-so, although Pierre and Gunter are serviceable and hungry backups.

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