The Athletic "Breakout Candidate for Each Team"

MadCardDisease

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Here is who they have for the Cardinals:

Arizona Cardinals

DB Isaiah Simmons

The eighth pick in the 2020 draft has tried to live up to high expectations. Previous coach Kliff Kingsbury and staff never seemed to know what to do with Simmons. Was he a safety? An inside linebacker? Simmons spent most of last season at nickel corner. Given this uncertainty, Arizona declined Simmons’ fifth-year contract option for 2024, putting him on a path toward free agency. Defensive-minded head coach Jonathan Gannon and a new scheme might be just what Simmons needs to finally blossom. He has ability. At 6-4, 238 pounds, he has size. Simmons has worked this summer with the defensive backs and says he wants to master the secondary. This is his chance. — Doug Haller

Wouldn't have been my choice but I guess I can see it.
 

Totally_Red

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kerouac9

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The reality is that no one from this team is in a position to "break out." The problem with these lists is that you have to put someone for every team.

Gannon and the staff have nothing invested in Simmons; he'll likely be the fifth defensive back until Garrett Williams comes back then slowly be phased out altogether.

I think Hollywood Brown could get 1200 yards receiving and 10 TDs this year. He's my #1 breakout candidate.

Number two is Cam Thomas. No one is standing in front of him and he had 3 sacks in just 236 defensive snaps last year. I think it's extremely likely that 8 sacks or fewer could be enough to lead the team, and I have no faith in Zaven Collins developing enough moves to be productive in the few passing-down situations the Cards are likely to force.

My third breakout candidate is Rondale Moore Trey McBride. I could see him getting 650+ yards and four TDs.
 

Yuma

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IDK, Chargers supposedly wanted Simmons. They have had success with Derwin James, who is essentially Simmons. Maybe Cards should try playing him like James. The Chargers seem to move him around a lot, too. Supposedly transitioning him to be more of a pass rusher, now. These guys like Simmons and James have so much physical talent, and they literally can play anywhere in the defensive backfield, it's hard to figure out what to do with them. Kinda not blaming Cards, and all the coaching changes that have happened, with this guy not developing. His role he is being told to do has probably changed every time he turns around.
 

BritCard

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Simmons wouldn't make my list. He's not good at football.

I agree with K9 that Brown is most likely to step up but not sure I can put a guy who's had a 1000 yards season already as a breakout guy.

I think most likely is Trey McBride. Lots of 2 TE stuff in this scheme and I expect plenty of TE targets as a percentage of targets. Depends when Ertz is back but I think he's most likely.

All the Edge guys. Collins, Thomas, Sanders and Ojulari are possibles. Jalen Thompson who is really just a decent JAG I'm hoping will show up in a new defense. I want to say Rondale, but I'm not. I think he has the talent, and it's not due to injuries. I'm just not convinced he's going to play a tonne of snaps in a zone blocking scheme that relies on blocking WR's.

Paris too obvs. I expect him to start at RT.
 

football karma

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agree with Cam Thomas -- feels like they are moving him back to his college role (imagine that!)

also Trey McBride. The run first teams can create opportunities for combo TEs.

finally: Marco Wilson. he made a nice step from year 1 to year 2. Interesting to see if he can take another one and turn into a better than avg outside corner
 

Chopper0080

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The reality is that no one from this team is in a position to "break out." The problem with these lists is that you have to put someone for every team.

Gannon and the staff have nothing invested in Simmons; he'll likely be the fifth defensive back until Garrett Williams comes back then slowly be phased out altogether.

I think Hollywood Brown could get 1200 yards receiving and 10 TDs this year. He's my #1 breakout candidate.

Number two is Cam Thomas. No one is standing in front of him and he had 3 sacks in just 236 defensive snaps last year. I think it's extremely likely that 8 sacks or fewer could be enough to lead the team, and I have no faith in Zaven Collins developing enough moves to be productive in the few passing-down situations the Cards are likely to force.

My third breakout candidate is Rondale Moore Trey McBride. I could see him getting 650+ yards and four TDs.
Marquise Brown and Cam Thomas would be my choices as well based upon the depth chart. McBride could get squeezed by Ertz. Collins, who knows. Simmons...no.
 

Chopper0080

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agree with Cam Thomas -- feels like they are moving him back to his college role (imagine that!)

also Trey McBride. The run first teams can create opportunities for combo TEs.

finally: Marco Wilson. he made a nice step from year 1 to year 2. Interesting to see if he can take another one and turn into a better than avg outside corner
Wilson is going to be in a tough spot this year so slight disagreement.
 

Chopper0080

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What is funny about Simmons is that this is the perfect division for him to match up with if he could fill a Kam Chancellor role. Run heavy schemes. Some decent TEs. Less true slot work. And maybe, Rallis will want a very aggressive and physical S to play in the box while keeping Budda high.

Looking at prime Seattle, Baker is the Earl Thomas role and Simmons in the Kam role LOOKS like a natural fit. Sad that we never really tried it and if the Cardinals let Simmons go, I am sure Pete will jump on him for that role (don't know that it works just that Simmons appears to be a fit).
 

Chopper0080

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Wilson got a lot of snaps as the #1 corner last year and acquired himself quite well. Is he a true #1? No, but he can be a good #2.
In the context of "breakout players" which is this thread, a guy being a good #2 when he has been the defacto #2 already doesn't really fit as a "breakout". Also, our pass rush appears as it will be significantly worse than last year which will impact the secondary. Losing Watt and Allen without replacing them proven producers hurts. Please don't turn this into an Allen vs Thomas debate as there is no way to determine Thomas's impact as a starter in a new defense we know very little about.
 

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Matt Haack or whoever wins the Punter competition. With all the 3 and outs this offense will likely have, the Punter will really be able to air it out this season. Get your season tickets now!!!
 

kerouac9

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What is funny about Simmons is that this is the perfect division for him to match up with if he could fill a Kam Chancellor role. Run heavy schemes. Some decent TEs. Less true slot work. And maybe, Rallis will want a very aggressive and physical S to play in the box while keeping Budda high.

Looking at prime Seattle, Baker is the Earl Thomas role and Simmons in the Kam role LOOKS like a natural fit. Sad that we never really tried it and if the Cardinals let Simmons go, I am sure Pete will jump on him for that role (don't know that it works just that Simmons appears to be a fit).
I don't trust Simmons in run support at all. I also don't believe that Baker is best used as an Earl Thomas ball hawk. Simmons never seems to have that enforcer attitude that Chancellor had -- for whatever reason, this secondary hasn't had much of an attitude since Patrick Peterson's PED suspension. Baker is a good tone-setter, but he doesn't have the magnetism maybe of some other top leaders.
 

Crimson Warrior

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It's not impossible that Z. Collins could break out in his new role, and I think he'd be my second choice behind Brown. I think it's a little similar to the Hasson Reddick situation.

Collins has a chance.
 

kerouac9

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It's not impossible that Z. Collins could break out in his new role, and I think he'd be my second choice behind Brown. I think it's a little similar to the Hasson Reddick situation.

Collins has a chance.
It's not that similar. Reddick had 14.5 sacks his last two years as an OLB in college. He was a pass rusher there.

Zaven Collins had 6 sacks his last two years in college as an off-ball linebacker. Zaven was probably miscast as a Mike, but pass rushing is a craft that guys spend years perfecting.
 

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Simmons wouldn't make my list. He's not good at football.

It's not like Simmons has been invisible when he's gotten snaps. He's been super-inconsistent (and sometimes just bad), no doubt, but to be fair, he's also made a lot of big plays.

It's almost like he's been playing out of position so far in his career... hmmm...

If you want to take the under on him (so to speak), fine, but would it be super shocking to see him succeed with someone besides VJ coaching him? I don't think so.

It's hard to predict what some of these guys are going to do with the new staff and scheme, and it will interesting to see if Gannon and Rallis can maximize the productivity of some of these really physically talented young players we have on the team.
 

Chopper0080

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I don't trust Simmons in run support at all. I also don't believe that Baker is best used as an Earl Thomas ball hawk. Simmons never seems to have that enforcer attitude that Chancellor had -- for whatever reason, this secondary hasn't had much of an attitude since Patrick Peterson's PED suspension. Baker is a good tone-setter, but he doesn't have the magnetism maybe of some other top leaders.
I agree that the idea of those similarities probably doesn't match the actuality of them, but I am still shocked/disappointed the Cardinals never tried to be able to find out. I would have preferred being in our current situation having tried to run a press-cover 3 scheme and seeing Budda and Simmons not being able to fill the Earl/Kam roles vs not having tried it.
 

Chopper0080

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It's not like Simmons has been invisible when he's gotten snaps. He's been super-inconsistent (and sometimes just bad), no doubt, but to be fair, he's also made a lot of big plays.

It's almost like he's been playing out of position so far in his career... hmmm...

If you want to take the under on him (so to speak), fine, but would it be super shocking to see him succeed with someone besides VJ coaching him? I don't think so.

It's hard to predict what some of these guys are going to do with the new staff and scheme, and it will interesting to see if Gannon and Rallis can maximize the productivity of some of these really physically talented young players we have on the team.
Here is where I quibble in these arguments.

Simmons isn't a candidate because he is learning a new positions, scheme, and probably isn't going to beat out Baker and Thompson for a starting role by week 1. Some of being a breakout candidate is having the opportunity, snap volume, and support to show out in the role. Until Simmons is getting starter reps it is kinda a moot point.

The same argument comes up with Trey McBride. Unless Ertz is out for an extended amount of time, it will be tough for McBride to "breakout" in an offense that is expected to be run heavy and with a backup level QB early on.

Zaven Collins. No one knows what his role is going to be. Coaches said they were "trying him out" at OLB. That is not a glowing endorsement. And even if he does stick, do we expect him to beta out Cam Thomas, Sanders, and Ojulari (2nd round pick) who are all more experienced pass rushers than Zaven?
 

Krangodnzr

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In the context of "breakout players" which is this thread, a guy being a good #2 when he has been the defacto #2 already doesn't really fit as a "breakout".
I think he essentially broke out last year.
Also, our pass rush appears as it will be significantly worse than last year which will impact the secondary.
Appears so yes. I think Allen is a wash, but losing Watt after losing CJ the year before is the real issue.
Losing Watt and Allen without replacing them proven producers hurts. Please don't turn this into an Allen vs Thomas debate as there is no way to determine Thomas's impact as a starter in a new defense we know very little about.
Well, I'd counter that at least we won't see Golden again. It was crazy how many snaps he got for how ineffective he was. Sanders and Thomas should have played more last year. Would they have been more effective with more snaps? Maybe.
 

kerouac9

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I agree that the idea of those similarities probably doesn't match the actuality of them, but I am still shocked/disappointed the Cardinals never tried to be able to find out. I would have preferred being in our current situation having tried to run a press-cover 3 scheme and seeing Budda and Simmons not being able to fill the Earl/Kam roles vs not having tried it.

Yeah, but I think we'll find out someday (or not) how much control Keim and Michael were exercising over who was playing where, especially in their last season as the wheels started coming off. It started with Wilks, who bristled under the micromanagement, and then continued and maybe intensified with Kliff, who didn't know any better.

Keim was obsessed with re-creating Dansby and Washington and likely would have resisted that kind of experimentation.

Here is where I quibble in these arguments.

Simmons isn't a candidate because he is learning a new positions, scheme, and probably isn't going to beat out Baker and Thompson for a starting role by week 1. Some of being a breakout candidate is having the opportunity, snap volume, and support to show out in the role. Until Simmons is getting starter reps it is kinda a moot point.

The same argument comes up with Trey McBride. Unless Ertz is out for an extended amount of time, it will be tough for McBride to "breakout" in an offense that is expected to be run heavy and with a backup level QB early on.

Zaven Collins. No one knows what his role is going to be. Coaches said they were "trying him out" at OLB. That is not a glowing endorsement. And even if he does stick, do we expect him to beta out Cam Thomas, Sanders, and Ojulari (2nd round pick) who are all more experienced pass rushers than Zaven?

Ertz is 33 years old and coming off a season-ending knee injury. He likely won't practice much in training camp or play in the preseason. He's unlikely to be on the roster in 2024. If McBride isn't getting at least equal snaps with Ertz, it will be a total miss by this coaching staff.

Young and backup QBs love tight ends because they're the biggest and closest targets. Expectations for this offense should be really low.
 
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