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Working The Cornerback Conundrum, And 2021 Draft Aftermath

The Cardinals got some cornerbacks, after it was only the story of the pre-draft process. Patrick Peterson left, nothing was being done, oh good they signed Malcolm Butler, but wait they still need more, no cornerback in the first round of the draft, why not, no cornerback in the second round of the draft, this isn't good, why aren't they trading up for one.

All those things. But then they grabbed Florida's Marco Wilson by trading up in the fourth round and then UCF's Tay Gowan in the sixth, and suddenly, there were athletic bodies. No, neither were considered the same as a Patrick Surtain or Jaycee Horn, but those guys weren't available.

"We are excited about having two young corners that can run and cover and who can develop in this scheme," Keim said.

Both Wilson and Gowan have a lot to prove. Wilson's athleticism and measurables would've won him the Scouting combine. How he played didn't match up (obviously; with his measurables, he would've ranked with Surtain and Horn in the first round, although it was clear Wilson was a miffed he didn't go much earlier). Gowan also is a physical talent, but he's only played one real year of high-level college football, and that was in 2019 after opting out of 2020 for COVID reasons.

GM Steve Keim definitely was all in on both. I mean, you don't trade up for a guy like Wilson unless you're sold, and Keim and the Cardinals certainly sound sold (as much as you can be in the fourth round.) "He to me is a guy who didn't get the credit he deserves," Keim said. "I think he played better than people think."

Both Keim and Kliff Kingsbury called Wilson their personal steal of the draft, of the picks the Cards made.

If either Wilson or Gowan can develop, then it's a a huge bonus given that they were both Day 3 guys. Malcolm Butler will start, as will Byron Murphy. Maybe Robert Alford can make his comeback. Because of Saturday's additions, I wouldn't expect a veteran cornerback to be added now, not unless one of these guys struggles mightily in camp, or if Alford doesn't show enough when he gets back on the field. Otherwise, these may well be your five cornerbacks on the roster.

-- Keim acknowledged he did talk to Wilson about the "sort of a red flag" from Wilson's shoe throw, which unfortunately for Wilson will probably follow him forever. The internet does those things. But Keim was happy with the conversation. "He owned up to it," Keim said. "With mistakes, and we all make them, it is whether you learn from them or not." With everything Wilson has dealt with, I'm thinking he's learned.

-- There were some who wondered about the Cards' first sixth-round pick, Duke edge rusher Victor Dimukeje, but then you listen to Keim talk about him and you don't wonder anymore. "He reminds a little bit of Markus Golden," Keim said, and there is little question how much the Cardinals like Golden (especially if you can get another version of him in the sixth round.)

-- James Wiggins, the sixth-round safety, could develop in the secondary, Keim said. But the Cardinals clearly see him making an immediate impact on special teams, and Wiggins himself talked about how much he enjoys that aspect of the game. After the free-agent departure of Trent Sherfield, the Cardinals could use another guy to step in at gunner.

-- The Cardinals didn't draft a tight end, but Keim reiterated the board did not push any up at their draft spots. Kingsbury did note how much the Cards use 10 personnel, but "we'll put the guys out there who give us the best chance to win, whether it is 11, 12, 13 personnel." But he also said he likes the four wide receivers the Cards can use right now -- which I am guessing means DeAndre Hopkins, A.J. Green, Christian Kirk and Rondale Moore.

-- Nothing official yet, but tight end, not surprisingly, has been part of the undrafted rookie push post-draft. Reportedly, the Cardinals are bringing in N.C. State tight end Cary Angeline, Cincinnati tight end Bruno Labelle and Arizona cornerback Lorenzo Burns. If true, that would put the roster (with the seven draftees) at 88, room for only two more bodies.

That's it for tonight and the draft. For me, 21 drafts in the books. Time to go home.

CB Tay Gowan
CB Tay Gowan

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