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Cardinals Draft Primer 2017: Cornerback

Posted Apr 17, 2017

With departure of Marcus Cooper, No. 2 cornerback again a question mark

The Cardinals didn’t make a big splash in free agency, preferring to add lower-priced veterans to the roster before turning their attention to the draft. The prospect pool is considered deep this year, and General Manager Steve Keim will aim to add pieces that can make an impact in 2017 and beyond. The three-day draft will kick off with the first round on Thursday, April 27, where the Cardinals have the No. 13 overall pick. Position primers will be rolled out daily as it approaches.

Draft primer: Cornerback

Players under contract: Patrick Peterson; Justin Bethel; Brandon Williams; Elie Bouka; Brian Dixon; Ronald Zamort

Need: High

The Cardinals’ situation: Marcus Cooper signed with the Bears in free agency, so the Cardinals will be on the hunt for a reliable No. 2 cornerback. Peterson is a perennial Pro Bowler, but, like last offseason, there is a lot of unknown across from him at this point. Williams and Bethel are the current candidates to start, but another player seems likely to be added to the fold. Tyrann Mathieu will serve as the slot cornerback in nickel formations.

The draft class: It’s a strong group, with a dozen different names getting pegged for the first two rounds by various analysts. Ohio State’s Marshon Lattimore and Alabama’s Marlon Humphrey are generally seen as the top two talents, but there are plenty of intriguing prospects beyond them, including LSU’s Tre’Davious White, Washington’s Kevin King and Ohio State’s Gareon Conley. Much depends on scheme with cornerbacks. The Cardinals play a lot of man-to-man and will leave their corners on an island, so elite physical tools are essential within the defense.

The conclusion: The Cardinals are in the market for a cornerback. If they grab one in the early rounds, that player could compete for a starting spot immediately. Bethel and Williams didn’t perform well in 2016, but Bethel battled a foot injury while Williams was raw. Both believe they have what it takes to earn the starting spot, and a draft pick would add another wrinkle to the competition. With Peterson and Mathieu, the Cardinals boast a pair of elite defensive backs, and solidifying the other outside cornerback spot would be a boon for the defense.

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