Arizona Cardinals position grades: Corners sunk the secondary in 2023

The Arizona Cardinals had way too few good pieces in their secondary, and in turn, their passing defense struggled given lackluster play at corner.

October 15, 2023; Inglewood, California, USA; Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp (10) runs
October 15, 2023; Inglewood, California, USA; Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp (10) runs / Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
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While the Arizona Cardinals safeties held up well in 2023, their play at cornerback was another story, and it’s why the team’s secondary grade is so bad. For a portion of the season, Marco Wilson found himself covering No. 1 receivers and failing to provide adequate play. 

The Cardinals benched Wilson before getting rid of him, and his horrific season forced Arizona to roll with an aging veteran and a trio of rookies for the most part. Of the three rookies, only Garrett Williams provided adequate play, allowing just 6.0 yards per target and 9.0 yards per completion, plus a 79.6 passer rating. 

Opponents often picked on Starling Thomas V, who ended up allowing five touchdown receptions, a 131.0 quarterback rating, plus 37 catches on 49 targets. Thomas, however, allowed just 7.7 yards per target and 10.2 per completion, which aren’t bad numbers. 

Kei’Trel Clark was the third rookie, and he played well enough to earn the starting nod early. However, he allowed a 113.1 quarterback rating, a 73.2 completion percentage, plus 11.1 yards per completion, and 8.1 per target, which also weren’t anywhere near ideal numbers. Of the group, only Antonio Hamilton posted anything close to respectable numbers besides Williams.

Arizona Cardinals corners sunk the secondary in 2023

When Budda Baker returned from a hamstring injury, he once again proved to be a sure tackler, but he wasn’t effective in pass coverage. He allowed 15.5 yards per completion and 9.8 per target, while failing to bat away or intercept a single pass in what was a regression for the star safety. 

Only Jalen Thompson played well, snagging four interceptions, nine passes defensed, and he allowed just an 80.3 passer rating. Thompson was the only regular in the secondary to save the group from sustaining a failing grade, giving them a D overall. 

Expect the Arizona Cardinals to address their issues at corner, because another year like this would guarantee a long 2024 season for the defense regardless of what they do with their front seven. 

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(Statistics provided by Pro-Football-Reference)