Evan Mathis signing is a big upgrade for Arizona’s O-line

The Cardinals really improved their line play with the addition of guard Evan Mathis.

| 9 months ago
(Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

(Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

Evan Mathis signing is a big upgrade for Arizona’s O-line


Grade: A-

What it means for the Cardinals: So this was the Cardinals’ plan when they traded away Jonathan Cooper Tuesday to New England in exchange for Chandler Jones. It’s an unquestioned upgrade, even though Mathis will turn 35 during the 2016 season. Mathis has been by far our highest-graded guard by far over the past five seasons, and even after a slow start he showed no sign of slowing down a year ago. From Week 3 on, no guard in the NFL graded higher.

As far is fit goes, though, this it will be definitely be a change for Mathis. In Philadelphia and Denver he made a name for himself as one of the best zone guards in the league, winning with his athleticism and control. Arizona on the other hand runs a lot of gap schemes that focus on generating movement on double teams at the point of attack. That’s not to say that Mathis can’t do it, just that it will be interesting to see how he adjusts.

What it means for the Broncos: Expect Denver’s draft to be heavy with offensive linemen. They are painfully thin at the moment and are banking on second year players Ty Sambrailo and Max Garcia to take big steps forward. Garcia is in line to replace Mathis, and while he looks more comfortable at guard than he did at center in college, he was still a liability at times in pass protection. His 40.0 pass blocking grade was one of the worst among guards last year.

| Senior Analyst

Mike is a Senior Analyst at Pro Football Focus. His work has also been featured on The Washington Post, ESPN Insider, and 120 Sports.

  • Tim Edell

    With Mathis and Iupati in front of him David Johnson could be in line for a huge season!

    • http://www.unreasonablydangerousonionrings.com/ Moralltach

      Chris Johnson was re-signed though. Takes away David’s appeal a little bit.

  • Angry Tom

    Mathis was a shell of his former All-Pro self last season. There’s a reason the Broncos were in no rush to retain his services. Good luck, Arizona.

    • http://www.unreasonablydangerousonionrings.com/ Moralltach

      “From Week 3 on, no guard in the NFL graded higher”

      • Angry Tom

        Graded by whom and based on what criteria, exactly? Because I’ve heard actual experts who’ve played in the NFL say that everyone on the Denver o-line last season was garbage from their enlightened perspective, save for Matt Paradis who was merely “serviceable”.

        • http://www.unreasonablydangerousonionrings.com/ Moralltach

          Graded by PFF, the website you’re currently reading. And based on the extraordinarily detailed grading process they describe in their “How We Grade” section. (https://www.profootballfocus.com/about/how-we-grade/)

          As for these “actual experts,” you haven’t cited anyone, so I don’t know who you’re talking about. But Football Outsiders put the Broncos O-line at #17 overall. The Huddle put them at #12. According to NFL.com, Denver was #11 in YPC.

          If you have actual data (Like PFF does) to support the idea that Mathis and Denver were “garbage,” I’d love to see it. Otherwise you’re just yelling.

          • Angry Tom

            Ask Mark Schlereth what he thought of Mathis’ play.

          • larry mckinney

            It appears, Tom, that you’ve got nothing here. Ask former Bronco and current radio talker Schlereth? Do you really think he’s gonna say Mathis was really good and the Broncos should have kept him. He’d piss off his listeners. Still waiting for your factual, objective, data-based response…

          • Angry Tom

            No, he’s going to call him out during the entire course of the 2015-16 season for being garbage, and so did Alfred Williams. Call them fanboys if you want, they’re experts in football line play, not faceless ‘analysts’ double and triple checking their equally clueless colleagues’ work on a statistics website. I think I trust their analysis over yours or anyone else’s. I’m also still waiting to hear the exact criteria offensive linemen are evaluated on. The link from earlier did not suffice to that end.

          • larry mckinney

            I can give you perspective, but cannot make you understand.

          • Troy

            Larry, never argue with stupid people. They’ll drag you down to their level, and then beat you with experience.