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Cardinals among bottom half of NFL in ESPN’s future power rankings

Cardinals among bottom half of NFL in ESPN’s future power rankings

The Arizona Cardinals have seen their record improve year over year since head coach Kliff Kingsbury and quarterback Kyler Murray arrived to the organization in 2019.

But just how set up are they to continue that streak of success for the foreseeable future?

Taking into account each NFL team’s quarterback situation, remaining (non-QB) roster, drafting ability, front office and coaching over the next three seasons, NFL analysts Jeremy Fowler, Louis Riddick, Seth Walder and Field Yates ranked the Cardinals 23rd in ESPN’s future power rankings.

With an overall score of 75.2, the Cardinals landed in between the “average” and “very good” range.

It would be unfair to overlook the Cardinals’ dramatic improvement over the past three seasons since hiring coach Kliff Kingsbury and drafting QB Kyler Murray. But the Cardinals find themselves in the bottom half of this list with question marks surrounding how they have finished in recent years, as the team faded down the stretch in a major way after finishing as the last undefeated team standing midway through the 2021 season. Their short-term future is not aided by playing a division that featured the two teams in last year’s NFC Championship Game and that they’ll be without receiver DeAndre Hopkins (suspension) for the first six games of this year. — Yates

Helping bolster the score was Murray’s 83 rating (13th in the NFL), which carried a 20% weight in the scoring system.

The signal caller saw his accuracy hit new marks in 2021, completing 69.2% of his passes for 3,787 yards and 24 touchdowns to 10 interceptions.

Per NFL Next Gen Stats, the two-time Pro Bowler ranked second in completion percentage over expectation at plus-4%, another career high.

But outside of Murray’s marks, the rest of the organization found itself near the bottom, with coaching (69.3; weighted 20%), draft (72.8; 15%), front office (75.3; 15%) and overall roster minus the QB (75.3; 30%) ranking 25th or worse in the league.

The Cardinals specifically approached last offseason knowing they needed better leadership late in the season. They wanted to prevent a November/December slide that could knock them out of the playoffs or hurt their momentum heading into the playoffs. Well … the same thing happened in 2021, as they finished the season 1-5 heading into the playoffs and then got blown out in the wild-card round by the Rams. So leadership still worries me about this team going forward. Do the Cardinals have the right mix? — Riddick

As for what can change for the better, Fowler outlines protecting the team’s biggest asset in Murray.

With most of the offensive line getting older and set to test free agency next offseason, revamping the trenches could go a long way in keeping Arizona’s signal caller upright.

Improving the offensive line to help Murray should be paramount. Center Rodney Hudson is on the decline at age 33, guard Justin Pugh is a 2023 free agent, and guard Will Hernandez and right tackle Kelvin Beachum are short-term solutions. Murray’s height (5-foot-10) makes a stout, expensive offensive line crucial to his success. — Fowler

Cardinals among bottom half of NFL in ESPN’s future power rankings