Cardinals' Kenyan Drake: We Will Be 'Nuisance' in NFC West for 'Years to Come'

Blake SchusterCorrespondent IIIMay 27, 2020

Arizona Cardinals running back Kenyan Drake fends off Seattle Seahawks linebacker Mychal Kendricks, left, as he rushes during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 22, 2019, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Lindsey Wasson)
Lindsey Wasson/Associated Press

The Arizona Cardinals' offseason has running back Kenyan Drake thinking long-term.   

After the team acquired star wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins from the Houston Texans, and with quarterback Kyler Murray ready to put on an encore following his Offensive Rookie of the Year nod in 2019, Drake sees the NFC West lining up in the Cardinals' favor.

Speaking on a media call Tuesday, Drake set the expectations high for the next few years (h/t Arizona Republic's Bob McManaman):

"When you trade for one of the top receivers in the league, if not the top receiver in the league, it's going to bolster any offense. With the style of play we have, it's only going to help this team and be a nuisance for everybody in the NFC West for years to come. And it's not only because of his ability, but Kyler's ability to play the way he plays at quarterback and will continue to get better year in and year out, game in and game out.

"I was really excited about the trade. I didn't really see it coming. I look forward to seeing what I saw a couple times from across the sideline when I saw him up close."

In order to trade for Hopkins, the Cardinals had to send running back David Johnson, a 2020 second-round pick and a 2021 fourth-round pick to Houston. Drake certainly seems to feel he was worth the price.

Hopkins caught 104 passes for 1,165 yards and seven touchdowns in 2019, making his way onto the NFL's All-Pro first team for the third consecutive season and his fourth straight Pro Bowl roster. Now he'll join an offense with rising stars in Murray, wideout Christian Kirk and Drake.  

Arizona had the No. 21 offense in the league last year while going 5-10-1. There is plenty of room for growth. There's also plenty of stiff competition within the division. The Cards beat just one division opponent in six tries: a Week 16 victory over the Seattle Seahawks

Every other team in the NFC West finished above .500 last year, and the Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers remain Super Bowl contenders. Drake's expectations are setting up a tough ask, but he believes the offense is more than capable of confusing defenses:

"I definitely feel like with the dynamic weapon Kyler is at the quarterback position, it allows teams to not have a run-blitz maybe as much as they would like to or be able to fill the box up as much as they would like. Because he not only can run the ball, but he can throw the ball very well. And then also you add the weapons that we have on the outside, just specifically DeAndre Hopkins, who adds another weapon on the outside that takes away from guys being in the box.

"The less players they have in the box, the easier it is to run against that box. I'm looking forward to not necessarily having easier boxes to run through … but they wouldn't be able to put that many people to the run game when you have so many dynamic weapons around in Kyler and Larry and everybody else that we have that can create a threat on the outside as well as me lining up out wide, Chase (Edmonds) lining up out wide. We just have a very versatile offense that you can't put a focal point on."

Drake will get a chance to prove his point early in 2020.

The Cardinals begin their season on the road at San Francisco. If there's ever a time to prove your team has grown, trying to take down the Super Bowl runner-ups is it.  

Should the Cardinals lose, they'll have six weeks to prepare for their next divisional matchup. They face the Seahawks in Week 7.