• Buy or Sell: 22′ Arizona Cardinals Defense IDP

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    The Arizona Cardinals’ defense needs to live up to expectations after selecting defensive players with their first-round picks in 2020 and 2021. Here are my IDP Buy/Sell candidates for 2022 on the Cardinals’ defense.


    Zaven Collins, LB

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    The Cardinals’ defense needed help in run coverage, so they selected LB Zaven Collins with the 16th overall pick in the 2021 NFL draft. Collins had a stellar career at Tulsa before getting drafted by the Arizona Cardinals. At 6′ 4″ and 260 lbs, he is the prototypical size for the NFL MIKE linebacker. Collins ran a 4.65 40-yard dash at his pro day, which is pretty good for a guy his size.

    In his three-year career at Tulsa, Collins delivered a very impressive 236 tackles (139 solos), 25 tackles for a loss, 7.5 sacks, 8 passes defended, 5 interceptions, 2 touchdowns, 3 forced fumbles, and 3 fumble recoveries. He decided to forego his senior season and enter the NFL draft in 2021.

    As a rookie for the Cardinals, Collins had a rough year. After being given the starting mike linebacker role, he was replaced fairly quickly by Jordan Hicks. Collins actually ended up having more special teams snaps than defensive snaps.

    Zaven Collins — MIKE?

    Collins was the starter in five of his first seven games. When looking at snaps though, he only played 50% or more of the defensive snaps twice. From Week 8 on, his highest defensive snap percentage was just 31%. The alarming numbers were that he had seven weeks of anywhere from 0-5 percent of defensive snaps. He had bad practices and then shoulder issues that set him back.

    Why is he a buy then? His IDPGuys.org ADP is just LB 42 and IDP overall 78. Hicks has moved on and Collins has looked more comfortable and confident in his role over the summer at all the OTAs. He is ready to claim the majority of the 116 tackles that Hicks left behind and can be had on the cheap.

    Rookies often struggle and then break out in year two. He has a starting role in the middle of a defense that will be playing some terrific offenses, so the opportunities will be plentiful. Buy him today.


    Budda Baker, Safety

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    Budda Baker is coming into his sixth year on the Cardinals defense. As a second-round pick in the 2017 NFL draft, he earned the starting spot for the Week 11 game of his rookie season and has not looked back. At 5′ 10″ and 195 lbs, he doesn’t play as much in the box. In his first three years, Baker didn’t have the tacklers in front of him, so he was able to feast on ball carriers and earn one of the top IDP producers.

    In Baker’s first three years as the Cardinals’ free safety, his tackles grew by roughly 30 – 40% each year. He topped out in 2019 with a pro bowl year of 147 tackles (104 solos), 7 tackles for a loss, .5 sacks, 6 passes defended, 1 forced fumble, and 1 fumble recovery.

    In 2020, Simmons came into the picture to play aside Hicks and they combined to help reduce Baker’s tackles by 20%. Runners were not getting to the second level as often. 2021 gave Baker another 20% decrease in tackles.

    The Cardinals have a formidable linebacker tandem in Isaiah Simmons and Collins that will keep runners from hitting the second level. Fellow safety, Jalen Thompson, had more tackles with 121 total tackles compared to Baker’s 98 total tackles in 2021.

    According to IDPGuys.org, Baker still has an ADP of third in safeties, and 15th overall in IDP. You can get a truckload of value if you were to sell him now. He will never be a top 15 IDP player again, let alone a top three safety, as long as the Cardinals’ defense stays intact. Sell him now.

    Thank you for checking out the latest article in the Buy/Sell/Keep series! You can read all of my articles on my IDP Guys author page. Be sure to follow me on Twitter at @OldMan_FF and @IDPGuys (we have offense, too), and please check out our website at idpguys.org.

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