Arizona Cardinals cornerbacks group got boost at 2023 draft

Wagner v Syracuse
Wagner v Syracuse / Bryan Bennett/GettyImages

The Arizona Cardinals used the 2023 NFL Draft to bring in a pair of youngsters who can help out at the cornerback position.

When the Arizona Cardinals allowed number-one cornerback Byron Murphy to leave town last month, the squad's weakness at the spot became even more pronounced. Making things worse was the fact that general manager Monti Ossenfort seemed to have no interest in addressing the issue during free agency. Veteran Antonio Hamilton was retained, but anyone who follows the Cards knows they need a whole lot more.

On Friday night, Ossenfort made an attempt to rectify the situation by grabbing a cover guy during the third round of the NFL Draft. With the 72nd overall selection, Arizona nabbed Syracuse University prospect Garrett Williams. What exactly should the organization expect to get out of the 21-year-old defender?

In his three collegiate campaigns at Syracuse, Williams racked up 152 tackles, four picks and 21 pass breakups. Last fall, the 6 foot,190 pounder totaled 36 tackles, two interceptions and three passes defensed in the seven games he dressed for. Williams' season had ended prematurely when he suffered a torn ACL during an October 29th loss to Notre Dame.

Three rounds later, the Cardinals reinforced the position again when they drafted University of Louisville corner Kei'Trel Clark. In his three seasons at the school, the 5 foot 10, 173 pounder tallied 167 tackles, five interceptions (one pick-six), 28 pass breakups and three sacks. Clark did spend one year at Liberty University back in 2019, when he was credited with 40 tackles, five pass breakups and two sacks for the Flames defense.

Cornerback position has been a low priority for the Arizona Cardinals front office this offseason

Williams and Clark are joining a cornerbacks room in Arizona that includes Hamilton, Marco Wilson, Rashad Fenton, Kris Boyd, Christian Matthew, and Nate Hairston. Top-notch free-agent options such as Jamel Dean, James Bradberry, Cameron Sutton and Jonathan Jones were completely ignored. The lack of urgency had led many Cards loyalists to believe that Ossenfort and company could care less about contending for a playoff spot next fall.

It was a bit surprising back in March when Ossenfort put very little effort into keeping Murphy around. Even more eyebrows were raised when the details of the 25-year-old's contract with the Minnesota Vikings were revealed. Murphy will be paid $17.5 million over the next two campaigns, a figure that's much lower than the $14 million-per-season that many experts were predicting for the 25-year-old free agent.

If the 2023 campaign got underway this week, Wilson and Hamilton would more than likely be running with the first-string defensive unit. The Cardinals have high hopes for the 24-year-old Wilson, but the 30-year-old Hamilton is a band-aid at best. Only time will tell if Williams and Clark succeed in stealing playing time from the starting duo.

Related. Cardinals: How much playing time will each rookie get in 2023?. dark

(Statistics provided by College Football Reference)