With Antonio Hamilton sidelined for four games, Marco Wilson and Trayvon Mullen can lock down the CB2 spot long-term in 2022.
The Arizona Cardinals have had the worst luck in football when it comes to cornerback in 2022. One upside, however, is that they have a proven player in Byron Murphy locked in as the CB1, but there is little depth behind him, with Marco Wilson and Trayvon Mullen serving as the likeliest candidates.
Wilson is the preferred candidate, having played a year in defensive coordinator Vance Joseph’s system. However, after a rough rookie season and a rough camp, placing him at CB2 is a huge risk. The same goes for Mullen, who the Cardinals traded for on August 30th.
And the Cardinals got Mullen for virtually nothing – a seventh round pick that could evolve into a sixth round pick. But the second round pick in 2019 showed how effective he could be, despite playing in five games in 2021.
Golden opportunities abound for Arizona Cardinals corners Marco Wilson and Trayvon Mullen
While I still think Hamilton will return and eventually take over the job, Wilson and Mullen can make their cases. Wilson’s knowledge of the system gives him an advantage, but he must improve upon the 120.8 quarterback rating and 70.3% completion percentage he gave up in 2021.
Mullen has proven to be the far more effective player. And while lesser knowledge of Joseph’s defense puts him behind the eight-ball early, Mullen has shown potential of becoming a long-term starter in this league. He has never allowed a completion percentage greater than 62.5%, and he also allowed just an 84.2 passer rating in 2021.
Both players are capable of stepping in and filling Hamilton’s role. A solid performance from either could warrant them to keep the job. But Mullen’s own injuries limited him last season and it remains to be seen if he can put his injury-riddled 2021 in the rearview.
Wilson played well enough last season to at least begin the year as the favorite to win the CB2 job. But he must figure out how to return to form if he wants a chance at becoming the long-term answer at CB2.
Best-case scenario? Hamilton returns after Mullen and Wilson come off of a successful four-game stint. Perhaps in that scenario, they can even operate in a corner-by-committee approach, and that will work wonders for the Cardinals in 2022.
(Statistics provided by Pro-Football-Reference)