Arizona Cardinals’ biggest OTA question: Cornerback
The biggest position of need may have the most players on the roster who may just not be ready to play for the Arizona Cardinals.
The Arizona Cardinals have a problem, one that they aren’t likely to admit, but we can all see a mile away, they only have one starting cornerback on the roster, and it takes two to stop some of the elite quarterbacks in the league.
As the team goes into OTAs this week, there is a glaring hole in the roster with the signing of Jerraud Powers by the Baltimore Ravens last week, what does the team do opposite from Patrick Peterson?
The team didn’t pursue Powers aggressively, in the same way that they didn’t pursue, and have not pursued Antonio Cromartie when he left before last season and now that he is still on the market after being released by the Jets. The team did draft several options at cornerback, but the biggest problem with incumbent heir to the starting job, Justin Bethel, is his inexperience hurt the team last year.
Bethel, when thrust into the starting role when Powers was hurt at the tail end of last season, and into the playoffs, played great on a few plays that you’ll see on a highlight real for the Cardinals, but many highlights will be on the opposing side. Capable? Yes. Great? No.
And that leaves the biggest question mark to look at in OTAs is how do the new draft picks play, and what shakes out from Steve Keim’s magical tree of veterans looking for that prove-it contract. The defense is going to be somewhat depleted if the season started today with Bethel coming off foot surgery, Tyrann Mathieu still in rehab from a torn ACL, Powers gone to free agency, and a big question mark at how the team values Tony Jefferson, who signed his low tender.
This defense has played well together, but more than any other position, save the offensive line, the biggest shake-up in the line-up will happen here when camp and preseason starts in late July/early August.
Could one of the draft picks be thrust into the starting line-up after showing promise in OTAs and camp? Yes, that could happen, but on paper, and on film, none of them have the abilities that led to Patrick Peterson, a first round pick from LSU, starting immediately. The most promising candidate, third round pick Brandon Williams, the most talked about pure athlete, only played one season at corner in college and is a converted running back.
The next few weeks will be interesting to watch, to see who rises to the top, and how much roster churn there will be before camp begins. Look for a veteran add at some point, but even if that happens, that has to be a reason why he isn’t on one of the 31 other teams 90 man rosters at this point, other than a high salary and a stubborn sense of worth.