A ton of attention has been paid to the Arizona Cardinals cornerback situation during the current offseason. The position is far from a strength for the club, and many experts believed that general manager Steve Keim would use the NFL Draft’s 16th-overall selection on a cover guy. We now know that it didn’t happen, but the Cards did add a couple of corners later on in the draft.
Arizona entered the three-day event with no fourth-round pick at their disposal, but an opportunity to land a cornerback that they coveted changed that. A trade with the Baltimore Ravens allowed the Cardinals to move up 24 spots (from 160th-overall to 136th-overall), a maneuver which landed them the University of Florida’s Marco Wilson. Is there any chance that the 22-year old will be a productive performer during his first campaign with the squad?
The Cards hierarchy certainly believes that Wilson is the real deal. In fact, head coach Kliff Kingsbury feels that the former Gator could be the steal of the 2021 draft. “His athleticism, his workout, what we think of him as a staff and as a personnel department, he’s a big-time talent to get where we got him,” Kingsbury said of the 6’1,192 pound Wilson.
Keim wholeheartedly agrees with that assessment. “I would echo Kliff’s sentiments, really just because when you look at the big picture, the guy has got such a high ceiling and yet has a pretty high floor as well.” Arizona obviously has high hopes for Wilson, but that didn’t prevent them from grabbing another cover guy in round six.
With the 223rd-overall selection, the Cardinals chose the University of Central Florida’s Tay Gowan. The organization also feels that they obtained tremendous value with the 6’2,185 pounder, a Georgia native who opted out of the 2020 season. In his 12 appearances in 2019, Gowan totaled 31 tackles, two interceptions and eight passes defensed for the Knights.
At the moment, Malcolm Butler, Byron Murphy and Robert Alford are the top three corners on Big Red’s depth chart. Butler is a very capable replacement for Patrick Peterson, Arizona’s eight-time Pro Bowler who signed a free-agent contract with the Minnesota Vikings. Murphy has been a solid performer during his first two years in the league, but Alford has not played in a regular-season matchup since 2018.
With a degree of uncertainty surrounding the position, the Cards are going to need to get something out of Wilson and Gowan. First-year cornerbacks have been known to struggle, but the Cardinals are hoping to avoid that scenario with their pair of youngsters. The team and it’s fans can only hope that Wilson and Gowan will be as good as advertised when the season gets underway in September.