Markus Golden and Robert Nkemdiche finished 2018 injured, but should soar to new highs in 2019, under newly hired defensive coordinator Vance Joseph
This is the first of three articles for each of the 32 NFL teams. Each article will be broken down into three defensive categories: defensive line, linebackers, and defensive backs. In each article, I will be identifying a few players that I would consider adding or trading for ahead of the 2019 season. Also included will be my recommendations on what it might take to acquire each of these players.
Markus Golden, Defensive End:
With the Arizona Cardinals hiring Vance Joseph as their new defensive coordinator, the Cardinals will likely run a 3-4 defense. While Golden is an unrestricted free agent, I expect the Cardinals to re-sign him. Before the start of the 2018 season, the Cardinals were talking up Golden as a starter once he recovered from his ACL injury from 2017. Talent has never been an issue for Golden, it has been his inability to stay healthy. Golden can thrive as an outside linebacker for Vance Joseph’s defense, and having Chandler Jones as the other outside linebacker can only help him.
In 2016, James Bettcher was the defensive coordinator for the Cardinals, who also ran a 3-4 defense. Ironically, that was the same year Golden had his best season in the NFL. Golden had a stat line of 51 tackles, 12.5 sacks, and four forced fumbles in 16 games played. If Golden does re-sign with the Cardinals, he could approach his numbers from 2016. I think Vance Joseph is the perfect defensive coordinator to make that happen.
Look to acquire Golden for a late-round draft pick or add him from your waiver wire, if he is available. Recovering from injury, he just might be.
Robert Nkemdiche, Defensive Tackle:
The Joseph hire should also help Nkemdiche. He could have the most productive season of his career in 2019. Nkemdiche is young, 24 years old, and should be a pillar in that Cardinals defense if he can get and stay healthy. His snap count has continued to increase each season, 83 in 2016, 256 in 2017, and 426 in 2018 before he was injured. With 2019 being the last year of his four year contract, he is going to want to show the Cardinals that his fifth option is one they want to pickup.
Nkemdiche should be owned in most leagues unless there were not any IR spots. Go to his owner and playing up the injury in hopes of acquiring him for a mid-round pick.
Everybody wants the top tier defensive ends and defensive tackles. However, not everyone is able or willing to pay the steep price required to get them. Owners who are able to find those diamond in the rough players with high upsides and cheaper price tags usually are the ones who sustain prolonged success. Hopefully, you find these recommendations helpful in your quest to build that championship roster for 2019. Please keep an eye out for part two of this three part series on the Arizona Cardinals.