PFF: No. 2 cornerback remains the Arizona Cardinals’ biggest need
No quarterback was among the Arizona Cardinals’ seven 2017 draft picks, a surprise considering the need for Carson Palmer’s eventual successor.
Less talked about but more concerning looking at the immediate future, the Cardinals didn’t select a cornerback.
Plugging holes at safety and linebacker might’ve been more appropriate with safeties Tony Jefferson and D.J. Swearinger, along with pass-rushers Calais Campbell and Kevin Minter, among those leaving via free agency. But who will become the second cornerback opposite Patrick Peterson remains a mystery.
Pro Football Focus’ John Kosko writes that it’s the biggest remaining need for Arizona.
Special-teams ace Justin Bethel finished the season strong but has been an unreliable option there for the team previously. Brandon Williams struggled as a rookie, and the main starter in 2016, Marcus Cooper, departed in free agency. The Cardinals have managed to keep the poor play at the position at bay with talent on the rest of the defense but after losing Calais Campbell, D.J. Swearinger, and Tony Jefferson via free agency, that luxury might not exist in 2017.
This week, Cardinals defensive coordinator James Bettcher told Doug and Wolf on 98.7 FM, Arizona’s Sports Station, that he is confident a player currently on the roster will win the second cornerback job.
“I think we have a great, great battle going on right now,” Bettcher said. “We’re only allowed to do certain things right now when we go onto the field but everything is being evaluated.
“Brandon, Justin, young guy Ronnie Zamort, (safety Trevon) Hartfield, Harlan Miller: All these guys are batting right now to see how it’s going to play out and who’s going to be the guy who’s gonna play opposite Pat — and really who’s gonna build our depth behind those two guys who are playing and starting for us.”
Arizona added another option to the mix on Tuesday by signing free agent Jumal Rolle to a one-year deal. Rolle has 19 career games under his belt since entering the league as an undrafted rookie in 2013.
It’s probably a safe bet Bethel and Williams could have an edge on the competition.
Bethel, who finished out 2016 at cornerback, is healthy after dealing with a foot injury all of last year. A third-round pick, Williams won the starting job to begin 2016 but quickly lost it to Cooper while Miller, a fellow rookie, made eyes open toward the end of 2016 but did so after sliding over to safety.