Can Cardinals Trey McBride emerge as next elite TE? NFC West Stock Watch

Trey McBride is finally realizing his vast potential on the field.

Selected in the second-round last year by the Arizona Cardinals, the Colorado State product had an up-and-down rookie season as he learned how to be an effective player in a more competitive environment than the Mountain West conference.

This season, McBride has developed into a reliable seam stretcher for the Cardinals. Over the past four games, he has 24 catches for 277 yards and a score on 34 targets.

In Arizona’s win over the Atlanta Falcons last week, Kyler Murray‘s first game back from ACL knee surgery, McBride had a breakout performance. He finished with a game-high eight receptions for 131 receiving yards on nine targets.

Those stats included a 33-yard reception on the final drive of the game that set up the winning 23-yard field goal by Matt Prater. According to Pro Football Focus, McBride was the highest graded player in the league in Week 10, with a 96.2 grade. 

He also became the first Cardinals tight end since Robert Awalt in 1989 to eclipse the 100-yard receiving mark, 34 years to the day.   

“I think it’s just consistency,” McBride said about his recent upswing. “I try to come in and do the right thing every day to be the best player that I can be. I try to help this team in every way that I can.

“I think the coaches are seeing that. I think they are giving me some opportunities, and I’m very thankful for that.” 

McBride still has some work to do to join the elite tight ends in the NFL such as Travis Kelce, George Kittle, Mark Andrews and T.J. Hockenson. But McBride is putting up respectable numbers in his second season, with 36 receptions for 418 yards and a touchdown on 49 targets. And if McBride develops into Murray’s security blanket, those numbers should just continue to improve.

His ascending production should not be a surprise. In 2021, he finished with the single-season records for the most receptions (90) and receiving yards (1,121) by a tight end in his last year at Colorado State.

“There’s not many safeties in the league that can probably guard him,” Murray said about McBride. “He’s getting it rolling. He’s getting his confidence up. He’s got all the ability in the world, so I’m happy to see him doing what he’s doing.”

McBride’s breakout performance leads this week’s NFC West Stock Watch.


Trey McBride, Cardinals

One reason for McBride’s improvement is his knowledge of the offense, which has led to him playing faster and making fewer mistakes. According to Next Gen Stats, McBride does not have a drop this season. 

With his increased role in the offense, he also understands that he could receive more attention from defenses.

“You can’t cover us all, so that’s something that’s exciting for me,” McBride told reporters this week. “If they want to put two on me, then somebody is going to be open. We’ve got a lot of weapons on offense, and Kyler’s good enough to be able to find those guys.” 

BJ Ojulari, Cardinals 

Arizona’s second-round selection in this year’s draft, edge rusher Ojulari finished with eight combined tackles — including two tackles for loss — and two sacks in his team’s win over the Falcons.

The LSU product missed time with a knee issue during the offseason but has been active in all 10 games for the Cardinals. He played a season-high 40 snaps against the Falcons. 

Ojulari is part of a rookie class making significant contributions for Arizona that includes right tackle Paris Johnson Jr., defensive back Garrett Williams, receiver Michael Wilson and defensive lineman Dante Stills

Leonard Williams, Seahawks 

In a win over the Washington Commanders, the USC product had his first sack since joining Seattle in a trade two weeks ago. According to Next Gen Stats, Williams finished with a team-high four pressures against Washington.

Williams has played an average of 47 defensive snaps a contest and is generating a 11.5% pressure rate in two games with the Seahawks. 


Frank Clark, Seahawks

Seattle’s second-round selection in the 2015 draft has played a total of 76 defensive snaps in three games since re-signing with the Seahawks in late October after four-plus seasons elsewhere.

Clark has just three combined tackles in those games. Meanwhile, Boye Mafe (six sacks) is on pace to become the first Seahawk to post double-digit sacks in a season since Clark (13) and Jarran Reed (10.5) did it in 2018. 

Mafe has sacks in six consecutive games. 

Deommodore Lenoir, 49ers 

While San Francisco’s defense dominated the Jacksonville Jaguars last week, Lenoir struggled as he moved inside to nickel defender, replacing Isaiah Oliver.

Per Next Gen Stats, Lenoir allowed six catches on six targets for 102 yards as the nearest defender against Jacksonville.

Eric D. Williams has reported on the NFL for more than a decade, covering the Los Angeles Rams for Sports Illustrated, the Los Angeles Chargers for ESPN and the Seattle Seahawks for the Tacoma News Tribune. Follow him on Twitter at @eric_d_williams.

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