Maybe the Arizona Cardinals need to utilize the 2017 NFL Draft to find successors to Carson Palmer and Larry Fitzgerald.
But more pressingly, they could also find a companion to another star, cornerback Patrick Peterson. Pro Football Focus believes the second cornerback position — not finding successors for their quarterback and receiver — is the biggest offseason question Arizona general manager Steve Keim must answer.
And PFF says Keim should address that hole via the draft.
With a draft class loaded with cornerback talent, the Cardinals obtaining a viable CB2 should be a huge priority.
A healthy Tyrann Mathieu would do wonders for the Cardinals’ defense, but the glaring need opposite Patrick Peterson looms large for a defense that likes to put their cornerbacks on islands. Draft targets include Clemson’s Cordrea Tankersley, Florida’s Jalen Tabor, and Iowa’s Desmond King—all three ranking in the top 10 of PFF’s most recent big board.
According to PFF’s mock draft, King (No. 4), Tankersley (No. 5) and Tabor (No. 7) would be off the board before Arizona picks 13th overall, but the website has four other corners projected to be drafted at 13th or later in the first round.
If the draft isn’t the answer or Arizona prioritizes another position, the Cardinals could also find options at cornerback through free agency.
In 2016, Marcus Cooper grabbed the starting cornerback role just a few games into the season and led the Cardinals with four interceptions, but as a free agent, it’s a matter of whether Arizona wants him back and can agree to a deal. It’s also a matter if the team can make a splash in free agency or if Brandon Williams, the team’s third-round pick last summer, can take the leap and become a starter.
Special teamer Justin Bethel, who battled injury all year, also came on late when injuries to others forced him into regular action, but that came after Arians called him a “failure in progress.”
Indeed, the cornerback spot opposite Peterson is something that needs to be addressed.
It’s just unclear how that the Cardinals will do so.
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