Rodney Hudson trade gives Cardinals one of the NFL’s elite O-lines

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Alex Sutton
·3 min read
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The Arizona Cardinals have had an offseason full of mixed emotions. To this point, they’ve had an excellent incoming free agent class, highlighted by J.J. Watt, A.J. Green and Matt Prater. With these exciting acquisitions, however, came the departure of franchise icon Patrick Peterson, who chose to leave Arizona in favor of the Minnesota Vikings. The team also parted ways with standout edge rusher Haason Reddick, who signed a one-year deal with Carolina.

Historically, Arizona hasn’t been one of the more talked about teams in the sports media world, but that has changed since the Cardinals’ recent bold and exciting moves since drafting quarterback Kyler Murray No. 1 overall.

The Cardinals made a trade this offseason, one that won’t be talked about and get all the media attention like some of the team’s recent moves have had. That mostly has to do with the position. Make no mistake, however, center Rodney Hudson’s arrival to the desert gives the Cardinals an elite offensive line for the first time in years.

There is a very strong argument for Rodney Hudson being the best center in the NFL. It’s hard to name someone better. At age 31, he should have quite a few years left in the most important seasons for protecting his young quarterback, Kyler Murray.

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The Cardinals suffered from poor center play in 2020, which put extra stress on guards Justin Pugh and Justin Murray. The acquisition of Hudson should allow both guards to be better in 2021. Hudson will also be tasked with making calls along the offensive line, which should make everyone better.

On paper, this Cardinals offensive line looks legit. D.J. Humphries, a Pro Bowl snub last season, has quietly emerged as one of the NFL’s premier left tackles. Humphries was dominant, allowing only 12 pressures in the final 12 games and one sack on the season. He had an overall PFF grade above 90.

Justin Pugh, who has been brought up in trade/cut conversations, appears to be staying put in the valley. General Manager Steve Keim recently expressed his admiration of the 2018 big-ticket free agent acquisition, stating he believed 2020 was Pugh’s best year as a Cardinal. He struggled with penalties, but only allowed one sack on the season. Pugh’s game should take another step forward next to Rodney Hudson.

Longtime left tackle Kelvin Beachum made the switch to right tackle for offensive line coach Sean Kugler last season, surprising many with his standout performance. He was a late offseason acquisition who took over the starting job immediately. The Cardinals rewarded Beachum with a two-year contract, solidifying the right tackle position moving forward.

The point here is the Cards had solid to great contributions from their returning 2020 starters. Adding Hudson to that mix subsequently fills the team’s biggest offensive hole from last season and gives the whole group a standout veteran presence.

The best offensive lines in the NFL all have a standout center. It just so happens the Cardinals added quite possibly the best in the game at that position. The addition of Rodney Hudson appears to be paving the way for an elite offensive line for Kyler Murray and Kliff Kingsbury.

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