It's the second half of my football lineup thoughts before leaving on some vacation, an educated guesstimate on who the Cardinals will have in the starting defensive lineup when they face the Chiefs in the regular-season opener on Sept. 11.
Remember, the starting lineup is just the first play; situations and packages dictate the bulk of playing time. And there is still time for moves to be made; Adding a veteran defensive lineman is not out of the question.
Thursday, I posted my offensive thoughts.
Defensive end – J.J. Watt. The Cardinals were inarguably a better team when he was healthy last season.
Nose tackle – Rashard Lawrence. Lawrence has had trouble staying healthy; Leki Fotu might be another early-down option here.
Defensive end – Zach Allen. Speaking of health, Allen said he basically played without ligaments in his injured ankle, and still showed noticeable improvement. It's a contract year too.
Outside linebacker – Markus Golden. Golden is pass rusher No. 1 and he'll need to show up big while Vance Joseph tries to scheme some ways post-Chandler Jones.
Inside linebacker – Zaven Collins. I believe Collins will get his chance here. Everyone will wait to see what he does with it.
Inside linebacker – Isaiah Simmons. It's naïve to think Simmons won't play some in other spots, but he'll be ILB at the start, especially with tight end Travis Kelce there to be covered.
Outside linebacker – Devon Kennard. Maybe at some point rookie Cameron Thomas gets a chance, but I'm thinking the veteran Kennard to set an edge against the run early in the season.
Cornerback – Byron Murphy Jr. Kliff Kingsbury praised his work/improvement this offseason, and the Cardinals need it all in the secondary.
Cornerback – Marco Wilson. Wilson emerged as a surprise starter coming into the season last year, and even if Robert Alford returns Wilson will be CB2.
Safety – Jalen Thompson. Contract year, and he's got a chance to develop into a star.
Safety – Budda Baker. Pro Bowl play, Pro Bowl leadership.