When cornerback Kei'Trel Clark made a pre-draft visit to the Arizona Cardinals, Jonathan Gannon made a vow to the talented prospect. No one in the 22-year-old's family had ever earned a college degree, so the University of Louisville product badly wanted to graduate with his classmates. Missing a rookie minicamp because of the event was a possibility, but Gannon assured the personable Clark that it wouldn't be an issue if he did end up with the organization.
As fate would have it, the Cards went on to draft Clark this past April, and the sixth-round pick promptly reminded Gannon of his promise. The head coach stayed true to his word by allowing the youngster to realize his academic dream. Based on how he has performed on the playing field, Clark appears to be extremely grateful for Gannon's classy gesture.
In what came as somewhat of a surprise, the 180th-overall selection of the 2023 NFL Draft beat out the competition for a spot with the first-string this past summer. Third-year pro Marco Wilson became Arizona's top corner following Byron Murphy Jr.'s departure, but the number-two job was up for grabs. As it turns out, Clark was more than happy to stake his claim on the gig.
Kei'Trel Clark has become an integral part of the Arizona Cardinals defensive unit
We're only three games into the '23 campaign, but Clark appears to have star potential. The 5 foot 10,180 pounder has broken up a team-leading four passes. Clark has flashed a physical side to his game as well, evidenced by the 18 tackles he has racked up for the Redbirds defense.
Clark really began to raise some eyebrows last Sunday when he more than held his own against one of the NFL's premier wide receivers. For a large part of the Cardinals' matchup with the Dallas Cowboys last Sunday, the Virginia native was tasked with guarding CeeDee Lamb. The two-time Pro Bowler was held to just 53 yards on four receptions, Lamb's lowest output of the young season.
Many fans, including yours truly, were practically begging the Cards front office to acquire a highly-ranked cornerback in free agency. Jamel Dean, James Bradberry, Cameron Sutton and Jonathan Jones were some of the best that were available on the market. Clark is well on his way to proving that he can play just as good as any of them.
(Statistics provided by ESPN.com)