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Cardinals Position Overview 2023: Defensive Line

Additions possible as training camp arrives


With minicamp in the rearview mirror and training camp scheduled to start soon, will take a look at the Cardinals' individual position groups during this quiet time in the NFL and give our opinions about where the groups stand prior to camp.

Today, defensive line.

LOCKS: Rashard Lawrence, Leki Fotu, Jonathan Ledbetter

Only three locks? Even that may be too many. All are holdovers. Let's start with Rashard Lawrence. He's good -- when healthy. Therein lies the problem. Lawrence has yet to play a full season through his first three years in the league. "He's got to prove that he can stay on the field," general manager Monti Ossenfort said at the Scouting Combine. Meanwhile, Fotu and Ledbetter had their best seasons as pros in 2022, each setting career highs in games started and tackles, including solo tackles. But that was last season. We still don't know how the new coaching staff views a lot of the returning players.

WORK TO DO: L.J. Collier, Carlos Watkins, Kevin Strong, Ben Stille, Eric Banks, Dante Stills, Jacob Slade

The Cardinals flooded the position between free agency and the draft. Collier, Strong and Watkins – each signed one-year contracts – all have at least four seasons under their belts. None of them, however, have been consistent contributors for their respective teams. Perhaps that changes this season. The rest of the bunch are young, unproven talents. The most intriguing of those may be Stills, a sixth-round draft pick, and Slade, an undrafted free-agent who reportedly signed a deal that included $200,000 guaranteed. Regardless, though, of how they all got here, they each will be given every opportunity to catch the coach's eyes during training camp.


Given the unknown with so many of the current players, the Cardinals will likely be monitoring the market, especially among interior D-linemen. The one caveat: Does this defense employ a three-man front? Four-man? Or maybe two down linemen is more the norm? That's something head coach Jonathan Gannon has kept close to the vest.

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