Third-round pick could start at corner for the Arizona Cardinals in 2023

Wagner v Syracuse
Wagner v Syracuse / Bryan Bennett/GettyImages

Arizona Cardinals third-round draft choice Garrett Williams is eyeing a July return from the torn ACL he suffered last season.

Eyebrows were raised back in March when the Arizona Cardinals allowed their best cornerback to take his talents elsewhere. Byron Murphy, a former second-round draft selection, inked a two-year contract with the Minnesota Vikings. A replacement will be needed, and there's a fairly decent possibility that a rookie could be stepping in for Murphy this coming fall.

Garrett Williams, a young cover guy who was drafted in the third round last month, could be asked to play right away. That could be a bit tricky, considering the fact that the 72nd-overall selection is recovering from the torn ACL he suffered last October. Word has it, however, that Williams will be fully recovered and ready to go when the Cards head to training camp two months from now.

The former Syracuse University corner was playing well last season when he injured the knee during a 41-24 loss to Notre Dame. In the seven starts he made before the setback, Williams racked up 36 tackles, two interceptions, three passes defensed, and a sack. During his first two campaigns at the school, the 6 foot,190 pounder totaled 116 tackles, two picks and an impressive 18 pass breakups for the Orange.

Garrett Williams will face mediocre competition in his quest to be a starting cornerback for the Arizona Cardinals

Third-year pro Marco Wilson will have to prove himself to the team's new coaching staff, but it would be somewhat surprising if the 24-year-old isn't out there with the first-string defense come September. The 5 foot 11,187 pounder out of the University of Florida has made tremendous strides since he arrived in the desert back in 2021.

Behind Wilson on Arizona's depth chart are a handful of mediocre cover guys. Antonio Hamilton and Rashad Fenton are serviceable, but limited veterans who will compete with Williams for the number-two cornerback job. Others like Christian Matthew, Kei'Trel Clark, Kris Boyd, Nate Hairston, Kendell Brooks and Quavian White will likely be backups, at best.

Williams will be behind the eight ball a bit with the Arizona Cardinals, thanks to time he has missed while rehabbing his knee. It's an uphill climb, but defensive coordinator Nick Rallis will be looking for the North Carolina native to hit the ground running this summer. If his return from the injury is a success, it would not be surprising in the least to see Williams earn a starting spot with "Big Red" in 2023.

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(Statistics provided by College Football Reference)