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Draft Primer 2016: Cornerback

Cardinals likely to target player at one of their thinnest positions

The NFL draft will be held from April 28-30 in Chicago. The Cardinals have addressed many of their biggest needs through the Chandler Jones trade and free agency but will aim to add more impact pieces. This is the final installment of the draft primer series as the Cardinals prepare to make their choices.

More draft analysis: QB I LB I WR I S I ST I RB I DL I TE I OL

Draft primer: Cornerback

Cardinals under contract:Patrick Peterson; Justin Bethel; Cariel Brooks; Asa Jackson; Kevin White; Shaun Prater; Carrington Byndom; Joel Wilkinson.

Need: High

Images of the cornerbacks projected to be selected in the draft

Analysis: All-Pro cornerback Patrick Peterson recently had ankle surgery, but it was minor and he's expected to be fine for training camp. Peterson will again be counted on to latch onto opposing teams' No. 1 receivers throughout the year. Justin Bethel – who also had surgery and will miss some offseason work -- signed a three-year, $15 million extension during the 2015 season and is another option, but didn't do enough last year to cement himself as the No. 2 cornerback. There isn't much proven depth behind them, which is why cornerback is expected to be one of the positions addressed by the Cardinals in the draft. Last year's starter opposite Peterson, Jerraud Powers, is still a free agent and could be an option down the road.

Cornerback/safety hybrid Jalen Ramsey and Vernon Hargreaves III are projected to be taken long before the Cards make their first-round selection. The other three cornerbacks who are expected to go in the first round are William Jackson III, Eli Apple and Mackensie Alexander. If one or more of them is on the board at No. 29, the Cardinals will likely take a hard look. There is some solid depth at cornerback in the middle rounds, so whether General Manager Steve Keim chooses one early or not, the position could also be in play later on.

The Cardinals play a man-coverage scheme which puts a lot of stress on the cornerbacks, so it's imperative to have trust in the cover men. Peterson has one side locked down, and safety Tyrann Mathieu is excellent in the slot. The other outside cornerback is the big question mark, and if the Cardinals can find a player they like in the draft, Keim won't hesitate to add him to the group.


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