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Sojourn Shelton Goes All Or Nothing With Cards

Posted Jun 26, 2017

Undrafted cornerback chooses team in part after watching Amazon series

Cardinals cornerback Sojourn Shelton works at an OTA this offseason.

A pre-draft visit to Tempe over, Wisconsin cornerback Sojourn Shelton wanted to do some research on the Cardinals.

He studied the depth chart, which was important. But then a Badgers teammate told Shelton he could get a different, deeper view of the franchise if he was just willing to turn on his TV. There had been a series released on Amazon, of which Shelton had never heard. It was called “All or Nothing.”

“I logged into Amazon and watched the whole thing,” Shelton said.

Watching “All or Nothing” wasn’t the only reason Shelton, who went undrafted in April only to become one of the more in-demand rookie free agents on the market, picked the Cardinals. The insight, however, was important.

“I just loved the total atmosphere of the team and the work ethic the guys put in, and the coaching staff seemed strong,” Shelton said. “It was cool. I know Arizona -- I’m a big fan of the NFL -- but that was a chance to look inside a team in-season. ‘Hard Knocks’ has the preseason but that show was a great chance to show people what the grind was like in-season.”

Shelton is hoping to take part in that grind. He reportedly got a $25,000 signing bonus to come to Arizona, not a lot compared to higher-end rookies but among the most for anyone undrafted across the NFL.

It underscores the desire the Cardinals had in bringing him in. Shelton was productive as a cover corner in college with a pair of four-interception seasons, although he doesn’t have ideal size at 5-foot-9. Still, coach Bruce Arians said the Cards likely would have made him a seventh-round pick if the team hadn’t traded both its last-round choices to move into the sixth round and take another defensive back (Auburn’s Rudy Ford).

Shelton did not get a chance to talk with Arians during his pre-draft time in Tempe. “All or Nothing” gave him an Arians glimpse – “I watched him in that show and I loved his coaching style,” Shelton said – but it was Arians getting on the phone during the post-draft recruiting that sealed Shelton’s decision to become a Cardinal.

“He wants nothing but the best for his players,” Shelton said. “He’s a cool coach from what I have seen so far being here. Most important, he just wants to win. I think when I got on the phone with him and hearing some of those things, I felt this was the place.”

The Cardinals have uncertainty at cornerback. Whether Shelton can fill that need is a question.

“It’s hard to make your way in this league (undersized),” cornerback Patrick Peterson said. “That’s not to say it can’t be done, but just the challenge is more difficult for a 5-9 corner versus a 6-1 corner. We’ll see how he performs when the lights are on.”

Shelton knows his size is the issue, “why I fell through the cracks in the draft.” He’s certain he wouldn’t have gone undrafted had he been an inch or two taller.

While he wasn’t going to turn down one of the bigger bonuses around, an all-or-nothing proposition with the Cardinals made sense.

“It wasn’t about the money because, going undrafted, you’re not making a lot of money,” Shelton said with a chuckle. “It was about opportunity and going somewhere that presented itself with a good chance to make the roster. Some teams are better suited in that way than others. This was a place where I felt I had a legit chance. Now it’s in my hands.”

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