The Arizona Cardinals are coming off back-to-back double digit win seasons, which is something that is very hard to do without having talent in the NFL.
Meaning, there are some household names on both sides of the ball.
Let’s take the defense for example.
Look to your left and there’s Calais Campbell, a Pro-Bowl defensive lineman and one of the more respected faces in the Cardinals locker room, one of just three remaining members from their Super Bowl roster.
Turn your head to the right and it’s nine-year veteran Frostee Rucker.
Look behind you and there’s big-name players such as LaMarr Woodley, Patrick Peterson and Tyrann Mathieu.
That can be an intimidating scene for a fourth-round pick out of Delaware State.
Cardinals starting defensive tackle Rodney Gunter talked about what it’s like to come from a small school and walk into a room with NFL superstars on the Burns and Gambo show on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM on Wednesday.
“The biggest transition is seeing stars like Patrick Peterson or Tyrann Mathieu, playing with great guys around me to motivate me,” Gunter said. “Back in college I am around a lot of unknown guys, smaller school players, you know, guys not as talented as guys coming out of the big name schools like Florida or Florida State.”
Gunter may not have been around talented guys in college, but that doesn’t mean he fits into that category.
The defensive tackle led the team with seven sacks and 13 tackles for loss in his season senior, while accumulating 18 sacks in his 45 game college career at Delaware State.
He was a four-year starter and three-time All-MEAC selection.
Now, he is expected to be the starting defensive tackle after Corey Peters tore his Achilles last week and will miss the entire season.
Expectations have quickly risen for the small school rookie and he has been thankful for the advice he’s been given from those same players he was starstruck by a few weeks ago.
“They told me to do my job and play my game,” Gunter said on what the veterans have told him. “I have the potential to be great and can’t have anymore rookie mistakes, just have to go out there and play.”
The Cardinals will need production out of their rookie right away and do not have the luxury of easing Gunter into the rotation like they were planning to do. Luckily for the team, their fourth-round pick believes that he can get the job done and fill-in for the injured Peters.
“I’m confident in myself that I will be able to get to the quarterback,” Gunter said.
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- Pro Football Focus: Cardinals need to win the 2019 draft