The Arizona Cardinals defense has gotten superb play out of the cover guys through the first five weeks of the current campaign.
All throughout the offseason, Arizona Cardinals fans were screaming bloody murder about the team’s cornerback position. Byron Murphy had flashed signs of greatness during his first three NFL campaigns, but the rest of the Arizona cover guys were loaded with question marks.
Despite the lack of depth at the spot, Cards general manager Steve Keim decided to do very little to address the issue. Back in April, the club selected Valdosta State University’s Christian Matthew during the seventh round of the draft. In late August, Keim acquired Trayvon Mullen in a trade with the Las Vegas Raiders.
Through the first month of the season, the Cardinals have done just fine with their current allotment of corners. It’s been mostly Murphy and second-year pro Marco Wilson holding down the fort, with Mullen and veteran Antonio Hamilton playing an abbreviated amount of snaps as well. How have the Redbirds managed to exceed expectations at one of professional football’s toughest positions?
Arizona Cardinals are watching Byron Murphy transform into a number-one cornerback
One of the main reasons for Arizona’s success at cornerback has been the play of the 24-year old Byron Murphy. For the past two campaigns, the franchise has been waiting for someone to fill the void that was created when the great Patrick Peterson left town. Based on his performance thus far in 2022, Murphy could very well be up for the challenge.
During a Week 2 victory over the Raiders, Murphy held Pro Bowl wideout Davante Adams to a measly two receptions for 12 yards on seven targets. The 5 foot 11, 190 pound Murphy was also the hero of the matchup when he returned a fumble 59 yards to seal the Cards a win in overtime.
Murphy continued his excellence the following week when he limited Los Angeles Rams star Cooper Kupp to 44 yards on four catches. Last Sunday, Philadelphia Eagles stud receiver A.J. Brown hauled in just three passes for 35 yards.
The 23-year old Marco Wilson has more than held his own for the Cards, despite the fact that he’s been picked on quite often by opposing quarterbacks. Mullen, a 25-year old who’s been hampered by a toe injury, played well in his only extensive action against the Carolina Panthers in Week 4. Hamilton just returned last weekend after a freak cooking accident sidelined him for the first four contests.
It now appears that Keim knew exactly what he was doing when he refrained from adding any high-priced talent to the Cardinals cornerbacks room. A position that looked like a weakness all throughout the offseason is now looking like a bona fide strength of the defense going forward.
(Statistics provided by ESPN’s NFL Scores)