Opening-round cover guys of the Arizona Cardinals since 1997

The NFL Draft is now just a week away, and fans of the Arizona Cardinals remain perplexed. Their confusion centers around which position the club will target with the opening round’s 16th-overall selection. There are several possibilities, but a good percentage of the draftniks are predicting that the Cards will ultimately go with a cornerback on April 29th.

It just so happens that Arizona could have a handful of talented cover guys to choose from with their first-round pick. Included among that group are the likes of Patrick Surtain II, Jaycee Horn, Caleb Farley and Greg Newsome II. If the Cardinals do elect to go in that direction, it would the fifth time since 1997 that the franchise decided to grab a corner with their top choice.

With the ninth-overall pick of the ’97 draft, the Cards landed the University of Iowa’s Tom Knight. The 6’0, 202 pounder was credited with 232 tackles, three picks and 20 pass breakups in 63 appearances (53 starts) for the Redbirds. Knight spent five seasons with the team, before finishing his professional career with the Baltimore Ravens in 2003.

Antrel Rolle, the eighth-overall selection of the ’05 draft, enjoyed a solid five-year stint with Arizona. The University of Miami product racked up 338 tackles,12 interceptions (including four pick-sixes) and 36 passes defensed in 68 career appearances for the squad. Rolle was moved to safety in 2008, and would play his final 35 games (including four postseason contests) for the Cards at that position.

Three years later, Arizona nabbed Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie with the 16th-overall choice of the 2008 draft. “DRC” would tally 137 tackles,13 picks (including four pick-sixes) and 61 pass breakups during his three campaigns with Big Red. The two-time Pro Bowler was part of the infamous trade with the Philadelphia Eagles that brought quarterback Kevin Kolb to the desert in July of 2011.

In April of 2011, the Cardinals acquired the sensational Patrick Peterson with the fifth-overall pick. The 6’1, 203 pounder registered 499 tackles, 28 interceptions and 91 passes defensed in 164 starts for the franchise. The 30-year old Peterson, who was voted to eight consecutive Pro Bowls, left the Cards to sign a free agent deal with the Minnesota Vikings last month.