Marcus Gilbert's Opt-Out Leaves Right Tackle Unknown

Howard Balzer

Fifth in a series of Cardinals unit analysis as on-field training camp work approaches, following special teams, secondary, linebackers and defensive line.

OFFENSIVE LINE

Projected starters: LT D.J. Humphries, LG Justin Pugh, C Mason Cole, RG J.R. Sweezy, RT Justin Murray

Solid backups: T Kelvin Beachum, T Josh Jones, G Max Garcia, C/G Lamont Gaillard

On the bubble: T Joshua Miles, T Brett Toth, C/G Sam Jones, G Koda Martin, G Steven Gonzalez

Just when it appeared that right tackle was Marcus Gilbert’s job to lose, he decided to opt out of the season because of the novel coronavirus and his seld-professed "high-risk" designation, leaving that competition wide open.

Will it be Justin Murray, who started 12 games there last season after Gilbert tore his ACL? Rookie third-round draft pick Josh Jones was a left tackle in college, so that will be an adjustment. That’s the same story for Beachum, who was signed July 17 as a free agent and has played along the left side for virtually his entire time with the Steelers, Jaguars and Jets. He brings stable experience to the group and has started 99 games during his eight-year career.

Left tackle is in the able hands of D.J. Humphries, while the interior appears set with Cole at center along with Justin Pugh and J.R. Sweezy at guard. Don’t count out Jones possibly getting a look at guard, with Sweezy potentially sliding to center. However, Cole was the starter in his rookie year of 2018 when A.Q. Shipley was lost for the season and with Shipley likely not returning at this point, Cole looks more than capable of handling the job again.

Max Garcia and Lamont Gaillard seem likely to win backup jobs with Joshua Miles facing a numbers game. Most teams keep at most eight or nine linemen. A new game-day rule for this season allows teams to dress 48 players instead of 46, as long as there are eight offensive linemen active.

With 16 players on the practice squad this season, Brett Toth, Koda Martin, Miles and Steven Gonzalez could be fighting for at least two jobs in that group.

Next up: TIGHT ENDS

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Comments (1)
No. 1-1
HawkKILLER
HawkKILLER

Right Tackle was one of a handful of units slash positions where AZ could afford a guy to opt out.
At RT Last years starting Justin Murray played at an extremely high level for a FIRST Year tackle especially down the stretch over the last 6 games as he was starting to coming into his own. Murray earned a 79.2 PFF pass blocking grade and posting a 63 overall grade in YR1 starting so he should only get better n better.
Arizona lucked out big time this offseason in both free agency. In free agency AZ landed an excellent top 15 caliber OT who can play at a very high level at OT or G in 6”4-320pd OT Kelvin Beachum & they got him on the cheap which is perfect as Beachum possessing elite athleticism is perfect for this offense. If something were to happen to AZs starting LT Beachum could slide over n the offense wouldn’t miss a beat. Last season Beachum had a pass blocking grade of 82.1 via PFF allowing only 4 sacks and a 67.9 overall grade all while playing with zero talent around him on the NYJ”s OL.
Perhaps the biggest STEAL OF THE DRAFT who had a 1st rd grade n was ranked as the best pass protector in the draft ranked the 14th best player n the draft by PFF possessing elite athleticism/power in a long powerful frame is 6”5-320pd OT Josh Jones who is an absolute stud. Jones has All Pro caliber potential with AZ grooming him to take over RT which will give AZ two Pro Bowl caliber bookends long term with elite athleticism.


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