Entering the 2017 draft in slightly worse shape, depth-wise, at cornerback than they appeared last season, the Cardinals have identified that area as a place to target in the upcoming draft, Josh Weinfuss of ESPN.com notes.
Still housing a throng of uncertain cogs alongside Patrick Peterson, the Cardinals lost Marcus Cooper to the Bears and did not make any notable additions to the position group. Bruce Arians, though, identified cornerback as one of the positions the team could target a player to learn behind current veterans this season. The fifth-year Arizona coach also included wide receiver and inside linebacker in that category.
Arizona again has Justin Bethel and 2016 third-rounder Brandon Williams as top in-house candidates to start opposite Peterson. Arians could be counting on the Cardinals’ recent ability to unearth some Day 2 and Day 3 standouts to help out this group, however.
“I don’t know if we can get all those high picks, but we’ve been really, really lucky from round three to round six, I think, of getting some quality guys, and as college free agents, too,” Arians said, via Weinfuss.
The Cardinals added the likes of Tyrann Mathieu, John Brown, David Johnson, J.J. Nelson and Rodney Gunter in Rounds 3-5 over the past four years. Arians also called this draft “loaded with corners.” While ESPN.com’s Todd McShay (Insider link) placed Marshon Lattimore and Kevin King as second- and third-tier players in this draft, respectively, the ESPN draft guru put six corners — Gareon Conley (Ohio State), Quincy Wilson (Florida), Tre’Davious White (LSU), Marlon Humphrey (Alabama), Jourdan Lewis (Michigan) and Adoree’ Jackson (USC) — on his next tier of draftable prospects. McShay also includes Connecticut safety Obi Melifonwu, whom some teams like as a corner, in this group.
Arizona added veterans in recent years to team with Peterson, with Antonio Cromartie, Cooper and Mike Jenkins — the latter of whom did not play after a season-ending injury in camp — but Weinfuss notes the Cardinals may not want to go that route again. Some interesting options are out there if the Cards don’t like what they see early in the offseason, though. Tramon Williams, Shareece Wright, Alterraun Verner, Sam Shields and Darrelle Revis are UFAs. Teams are also monitoring former 49ers starter Tramaine Brock, should he not be charged with domestic violence for the alleged incident that prompted his Niners exit.
Furthering this sense the Cardinals may go with what they have: Arians also appears to have softened his stance on Bethel, whom he called a “failure in progress” last season. Bethel did accept a paycut this offseason, though.
“I think Justin Bethel is going to play a hell of a lot better if he can finally practice,” Arians said, via Weinfuss. “He hasn’t practiced for two years on that broken foot. I think he’s going to really, really take off with it this spring so I feel fine with those guys.”
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