Cardinals Position Overview: Defensive Line

DE Darius Philon was added in free agency to bolster the line.
DE Darius Philon was added in free agency to bolster the line.

With July here and training camp beginning in just a few weeks, azcardinals.com will take a look at the Cardinals’ individual position groups during this very quiet time in the NFL, and give our opinions about where the groups stand prior to camp. Today, the defensive line.

LOCKS: Corey Peters, Darius Philon, Rodney Gunter, Zach Allen

Peters is a mainstay at nose tackle and will anchor the group once again. Philon is a promising player who the Cardinals signed in free agency, and he will start at one defensive end spot with Gunter expected at the other. There are high hopes for Allen, the team’s third-round pick, and he should be in the rotation immediately.

WORK TO DO: Robert Nkemdiche, Terrell McClain, Michael Dogbe, Vincent Valentine, Miles Brown, Immanuel Turner

Nkemdiche had the best statistical season of his career in 2018, with 4½ sacks and 12 tackles for loss in 10 games. However, the former first-round pick was still inconsistent and then tore his ACL. It’s unknown when Nkemdiche will be healthy, and based on the totality of his circumstances, it makes it tough to pencil him in as a key piece in 2019. McClain and Valentine are a pair of veterans who could be reserves on the interior, while Dogbe, a seventh-round pick, will push to secure a roster spot. Brown and Turner are undrafted free agents who will need to move up the depth chart to have a shot at making the team.

UPGRADE ODDS: Medium

The Cardinals could use more depth on the line, although at this point in the offseason there aren’t a ton of options. GM Steve Keim has made use of the team’s top waiver priority several times already, and he could do so again at this position if an intriguing defensive lineman becomes available. That may also depend on the progress of Nkemdiche and the early outlook for Allen and Dogbe.

Images of the defensive linemen on the team as training camp approaches

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