ARI-DEN grades: Arizona QB Matt Barkley looks good in preseason Week 4 win

Top takeaways and highest-graded players from the Arizona Cardinals' preseason Week 4 win over the Denver Broncos.

| 2 months ago
(Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

(Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

ARI-DEN grades: Arizona QB Matt Barkley looks good in preseason Week 4 win

Arizona Cardinals 40, Denver Broncos 17

Here are the biggest takeaways and highest-graded players from the Arizona Cardinals’ 40-17 preseason victory over the defending Super Bowl Champion Denver Broncos.

Arizona Cardinals

Quarterback grade: Matt Barkley, 85.6

Barkley makes a case for the roster

Matt Barkley played the entire game at quarterback for the Cardinals and performed admirably. Barkley’s performance should call into question the idea of carrying only two quarterbacks on the Cardinals roster and his performance looked noticeably better than we have seen from Drew Stanton this preseason.

Top offensive grades

QB Matt Barkley, 85.6

OC Evan Boehm, 82.1

OG Cole Toner, 80.3

OT John Wetzel, 77.0

WR Jaxon Shipley, 76.8

Rookie offensive linemen make the most of their opportunity

The Cardinals took the opportunity of the fourth preseason game to get valuable reps for two rookie offensive linemen they took in the draft, center Evan Boehm and guard Cole Toner. Both players finished the game taking 78 reps and grading positively both as run-blockers and pass-protectors, as neither player surrendered a QB pressure on 45 pass-blocking snaps.

Top defensive grades

DI Robert Nkemdiche, 83.9

ED Shaquille Riddick, 82.6

LB Donald Butler, 81.9

DI Red Bryant, 78.0

LB Lamar Louis, 75.0

Nkemdiche was a disruptive force on the line

Nkemdiche has been dealing with a high ankle sprain for most of training camp and preseason, so his playing time has been at a minimum. However, he did not disappoint in his first game seeing significant snaps. As a pass-rusher he finished with an 82.1 pass-rush grade to go along with his 1 sack, 1 hit, and 2 hurries on only 16 pass-rush snaps.

Denver Broncos

Quarterback grade: Paxton Lynch, 42.6, QB Zac

Lynch has an up and down night

Broncos’ first-round pick Paxton Lynch was not named the team’s regular-season starter and therefore he saw significant reps against the Cardinals in the Broncos’ final preseason game. He looked good at times showing his athleticism for his size and his arm strength. However, he also threw a terrible pick-six as he didn’t see linebacker Gabe Martin in coverage.

Top offensive grades

WR Jordan Taylor, 83.7

WR Mose Frazier, 76.2

G Aaron Neary, 72.7

TE John Phillips, 71.5

C Dillon Day, 70.7

Unheralded wide receivers moved the chains

Wide receivers Jordan Taylor and Mose Frazier were the Broncos’ highest-graded offensive players against the Cardinals. Taylor had 109 yards and 2 TDs and made some Cardinals miss as he turned a short pass into a long TD. Frazier appeared to have good chemistry with Lynch — he should, as they were college teammates — as he caught 6 passes for 79 yards.

Top defensive grades

LB Dwayne Norman, 91.5

CB Taurean Nixon, 87.5

ED Sadat Sulleyman, 84.9

S Shiloh Keo, 80.9

LB Zaire Anderson, 74.4

Broncos’ reserves get meaningful snaps

The Broncos’ have arguably the best defense in the league and used the fourth preseason game to get reps for their defensive reserves. Sulleyman was very disruptive as a pass-rusher as he racked up 1 hit and 5 hurries on only 21 pass-rush snaps. Dwayne Norman had a versatile defensive performance with a sack and a hurry as a pass-rusher and not allowing any completions on passes thrown into his coverage.

  • Bill Doerr

    PFF Quote ” Nkimdiche is a disruptive force. As a pass-rusher he finished with an 82.1 pass-rush grade to go along with his 1 sack, 1 hit, and 2 hurries on only 16 pass-rush snaps.”

    Arizona’s 1st round pick 6″4/297PD (Just 9% body fat) DE/DT Robert Nkimdiche is going to be an absolute BEAST for AZ playing both 5 technique & 3 technique DT in AZs 4-3 fronts. Last night he showed off the Elite Athleticism/Elite Explosiveness/Elite Power/Elite speed & quickness that makes him so special & showed why he was a top 10 talent n 1st round pick. He was a man among boys out there , he was extremely disruptive all night long & even in the run game he was blowing by the C n OGs hitting the RB in the backfield & blowing up running plays all night long.

    Arizona was EXTREMELY Lucky to be able to pick up an Elite talent like Nkimdiche 29th overall due to his Hotel incident that caused him to drop in the draft… With Nkimdiche’s elite explosive pass rush talent w/ elite speed n quickness for a man (running a 4.79 40 n being he has at his size a 35.5in vertical jump showing the kind of rare elite caliber explosiveness he posses) his size w/ an arsenal of pass rush moves OG/OCs & DCs are going to fear Nkimdiche & you cant double team him with all the other talent on the roster in Elite DE Calais Campbell, 6″5/305 DE Rodney Gunter going back to his natural position as a DE is a beast of a pass rusher, DT/NT 6″4 Corey Peters is an excellent pass rusher right up the middle n consistently collapses the middle of pockets not allowing QBs to step up, Healthy DE Frostee Rucker is a beast of a pass rusher n is finally 100% healthy again, versatile DE 6″6 Josh Mauro is a solid pass rusher (the rest of AZs DEs are run stoppers) …. AZ has a lot of excellent to elite pass rushers who will play next to Nkimdiche not including outside pass rushers like Elite OLB Chandler Jones, Excellent OLB Markus Golden is going to be much better in year 2 of his career as will excellent pass rusher OLB Alex Okafor. That’s a ton of talent next to and behind Nkimdiche , and once AZ starts game planning and running stunts n twists with say Nkimdiche & OLB M. Golden n on the left side running a twist with Elite pass rushing DE C. Campbell n Elite OLB C. Jones teams aren’t going to be able to stop them, and Nkimdiche has more than enough ability to destroy OGs 1 on 1.

    DE/DT Robert Nkimdiche is going to pass rush a ton this season & i’d bet money in AZs Defense he puts up between 7.5-10 sacks/15 QB Hits & 50 or so QB pressures in year 1 & develops into a 5tech DE/3tech DT who puts up on AVG 10-12 sacks a season, dude is an absolute beast.

    • Brandon Chester

      Robert Nkemdiche is pretty good. Arizona is lucky to have them? Not really lots of great lineman came out of that draft. Look at Kansas City’s Chris Jones for example. Here is what PFF said about Chris Jones in week three when he was the highest graded 3-4.

      He wasn’t taken until the second round of the 2016 draft, but Chris Jones was the No. 12 prospect on PFF’s draft board, and looked every bit like an impact first-round player this week against Chicago. Jones recorded three hurries, a batted pass, and destroyed a couple of run plays in just 16 snaps of action, looking like the best player on the field for a Chiefs’ defense that boasts plenty of talent.

  • Bill Doerr

    AZ drafted two excellent young Offensive Linemen as well really lucking out picking up 2 Linemen that can excel as starters.

    6″5/315pd uber athletic OG Cole Toner (can also play RT) was drafted n the 5th round out of Harvard & he has been an absolute beast as he is Pro Football Focus’s Highest Ranked OG this pre season n in week 3 he played with the starters because Elite LG Mike Iupati had a sore knee. Toner is absolute technician in pass protection just flawless & gets excellent push in the run game as well!!!! AZ no doubt will let him develop his rookie season and then plug him as a starter at RG next year !!!!!

    6″3/310PD Center Evan Boehm has excelled this pre-season as well ranking as one of the highest ranked Centers ranked in the top 5 overall , unlike Toner though Boehm was drafted in the 4th round to eventually become AZs starter , AZ lucked out with Toner but they drafted Boehm to start. Boehm is excellent in pass protection showing excellent athleticism n lateral movement & in the run game with his Elite Power he is just an outright Mauler… Had he of not struggled in the springtime learning the offense I think he would be the starter right now, because he now has a excellent full grasp on the offense. Boehm has a very bright future with Pro Bowl Potential as does Toner.

    Arizona picked up excellent value drafting Boehm in round 4 and Cole Toner in round 5. Any other year Boehm would of been a 2nd to no lower than 3rd round pick in a normal year where u have 3 or so draftable Centers , this year the NFL had 6-7 Centers drafted 5 of which all have excellent starting ability , this was the year to get excellent value in a Center so Arizona really lucked out.

  • Cards

    Bill Doerr, i came twice while reading this! Where can I read more?

    • crosseyedlemon

      Yeah, it’s a real bummer when you have to settle for the condensed version.

  • Yahmule

    The Broncos ability to identify and develop inside linebackers has really been an unsung reason for their tremendous improvement on defense the last three years.

  • Malachi

    barkley played like a grown man, making impressive throws under constant pressure, especially the deep pass up the left sideline with sadat sulleyman draped over him. impressive turnaround for him.