Rudy Ford played safety in college, but when the Arizona Cardinals chose him in the sixth round of the 2017 NFL Draft, they said the plan was for him to be a cornerback.
Yet, as mini-camp neared its conclusion, the former Auburn Tiger started to see more action back at his old position, with the idea being, simply, to have flexibility.
“I prefer to play either one,” Ford told Doug and Wolf Monday on 98.7 FM, Arizona’s Sports Station. “It gives you a chance to look at different points on the field and it just shows versatility, it shows how you’re able to communicate and how you’re able to learn in the system.
“So it’s able to show different things, but I’m up to play either one.”
At 6-foot and 204 pounds Ford has good size for the cornerback position, and the 4.34 second 40-yard dash he ran at his pro day indicates he has enough speed, too.
His transition to that role has been made quicker in part because his pre-draft training involved working with former Cardinals cornerback Rod Hood as well as Patrick Peterson, who is arguably the top cornerback in the NFL.
Ford said both are great men who have helped him grow as a player and person.
“Pat’s a great guy, can talk to him about anything, can go and ask him anything — he’ll give you great information back,” Ford said. “Just me watching him, I was fortunate I got to train with him. Very detailed in what he does, very detailed.
“And just great on and off the field guy, and has great character. And same thing for Rod.”
Ford admitted there was an initial sense of awe when he was on the field with stars like Peterson and Larry Fitzgerald, but that soon dissipated as he realized how helpful his veteran teammates would be.
Advice cannot hurt.
As a senior, Ford posted 59 tackles and seven pass breakups, but the season before, as a junior, he notched 118 tackles and two interceptions.
He said he prefers playing press-man coverage at cornerback, in part because he patterned his game after Peterson.
“He’s a great press-man corner and just going on with the trainer Rod Hood, that’s what he teaches and that’s how I become really good. I’m a man guy because of my speed, so I’m definitely a man-to-man, but press, definitely.”
That’s for Ford, the cornerback. He noted how the coaches had him transition back to free safety, which of course impacts what he needs to work on in the final weeks before training camp begins.
He said the important thing is to continue going over the playbook, with repetition being key.
“But really, for everything, I’m good at the playbook,” he said. “Any questions I have I’m going to continue to ask and continue to talk to the coaches.
“But definitely, they see when I was playing safety, they see I’m very set, home in it, feel like it’s a home position for me, feel like I’m very comfortable there. Can move, get from sideline to sideline, so my speed’s good. But they see a bunch of different versatility right there from that spot, too.”
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