Before Ottis Anderson guided the New York Giants to their first two Super Bowl wins by providing a punishing backfield presence for Bill Parcells, the 6-foot-2, 220-pounder became a perennial 1,000-yard rusher with the Cardinals.
That was when the franchise was in St. Louis, and Anderson put together five seasons of surpassing the century mark between 1979 to 1984 — including his First Team All-Pro rookie season that saw him tally 1,605 yards and 8 touchdowns.
Anderson eventually made his way to the Big Apple via a stunning trade that delivered two future draft picks to the Cards in exchange. But while Anderson owns two rings with his second team, he’s still an avid watcher of the first team he played for. And in a recent conversation with Heavy, Anderson identified where the Cardinals can improve moving forward.
Offense is a Need, but Which Position Group?
The now 65-year-old Anderson believes the Cardinals are set on defense. But he’s looking more at the side of the field he knows well as the area of improvement.
“I think there are some offensive weapons they can probably bring in to help out. Defensively, they’re pretty good and they play well there,” Anderson told Heavy.
But what position group does Anderson believe the Cards should address?
“On free agency, it’s trying to ensure the offensive line (improves). Seems like everybody is looking for offensive linemen,” Anderson said.
Anderson adds that the market for trench options has changed over the years, as the area has become more in high demand during free agency and the NFL Draft.
“It’s the first time so many offensive linemen are in demand with a nice salary. And it’s not just starters, but the backup players on the team who have not had a real chance to play, but is pretty talented,” Anderson said. “There’s a huge market for those kind of athletes. And you’re starting to see teams head in that direction. You can’t get enough of offensive linemen, that’s for sure.”
He was especially watchful of the future blindside protectors and interior road grinders at the NFL Scouting Combine during the first week of March in Indianapolis.
“The draft, looking at the guys in Indy doing those tests, I’ll tell you what man: There’s some very talented young men that’s coming to the NFL,” Anderson said.
Who Could fit Arizona’s Trenches?
While the offensive line does have experience coming back, it was a unit that stumbled down the stretch from a pass protection standpoint.
In the last three games including playoffs, the Cardinals surrendered a combined eight sacks. The unit also had five games of allowing three or five sacks of quarterback Kyler Murray.
Free agency wise, the Cards could still pursue available veterans like left tackles Nate Solder and Eric Fisher (also former first rounders). But if Arizona wants to go with a younger option, Ereck Flowers of the Washington Commanders is available as of Wednesday, March 16 after being released.
There are mock drafts though, particularly Sports Illustrated’s mock, that doesn’t have the Cards taking any lineman until the seventh round (No. 256 overall). Bleacher Report, however, has the Cards taking Texas A&M’s versatile Kenyon Green at No. 23 of the first.
Anderson’s Partnership with SIGND
In his post-NFL career, Anderson is now active with a new way fans can look at signed sports memorabilia.
Through his partnership with the company SIGND, fans can not only get a piece of a signed football from Anderson himself, but a football with a QR code. Fans then get treated to this new feature: By scanning the QR code with their phone, a video of Anderson himself sprouts up and plays — showing Anderson thanking the fans for purchasing and signing the football in the video.
“SIGND is a great way for fans to get a piece of their favorite icons,” Anderson said. “We’re out to change the game. We’re game changers.”
More on SIGND can be found here.