ARIZONA CARDINALS

Justin Bethel aims to emerge as a cornerback in 2015

Jan 23, 2015, 5:11 PM | Updated: 5:11 pm

LUKE AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. — If the Arizona Cardinals ultimately decide cornerback Antonio Cromartie is not part of their plans going forward, chances are it will be more of a financial decision than anything else.

In fact, it would be not unlike what happened with Karlos Dansby last year, whose great season had the Cardinals wanting to bring him back but also brought him a substantial offer from the Cleveland Browns.

However, also not unlike last season, when the Cardinals felt Kevin Minter would be able to step in and replace Dansby, the team has another young player whom they believe is ready for a larger role next year.

And if Cromartie departs, you can expect Justin Bethel to get a shot at replacing him.

A Pro Bowl selection for the second consecutive season due to his special teams work, Bethel said the goal is to return to the All-Star game as a cornerback.

“That’s my plan,” he said. “Move forward in that position in the offseason and see where I can get to. I definitely look forward to trying to come back as a corner.”

At 6-foot-0 and 200 pounds, Bethel has excellent size for the position, and both his speed and quickness make him an intriguing prospect for the team. Last summer, Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said he had the athletic ability to become the best cornerback on a roster that included Pro Bowlers Patrick Peterson and Cromartie.

“Bethel, to me, is the most athletic guy I’ve probably been around,” Cromartie said, “just from the standpoint of the freakish talents that he has, the quickness that he has. He’s fast. He doesn’t mind being physical, coming up in the run game.

“I really think the sky’s the limit for him. And honestly, the only person that can stop Bethel from being the player that he wants to be is himself. And I think at the end of the day he wants to be a great player. He’s always willing to learn, and that’s what you look for in a defensive back. He’s a quiet guy that’s always willing to learn, always trying to take his game to another level. And that’s what he has to do coming into this offseason and going into the season.”

Bethel was in for 104 defensive snaps this past season, tallying six total tackles and one fumble recovery. Maybe he did not take the step forward everyone was hoping, but at the same time, opportunities were a bit limited due to the overall performance and health of the team’s primary cornerbacks.

If Cromartie does leave, though, that would seem to open the door up for Bethel to emerge. And more than anything else, he believes the necessary improvement will come by believing in himself.

“I think it’s more for me, it’s not athletic ability, it’s more of confidence,” he said. “Just coming out with the confidence knowing I can play.”

And does the 24-year-old, who will be 25 when next season starts, have that?

“Oh yeah, for sure. For sure.”

Presented By
Western Governors University

Comments

Comment guidelines: No name-calling, personal attacks, profanity, or insults. Please keep the conversation civil and help us moderate comments by reporting abuse.
comments powered by Disqus

Arizona Cardinals

Monti Ossenfort speaks at the NFL Combine...

Tyler Drake

NFL mock draft tracker: What will the Cardinals do with the No. 4 pick?

A look at the players being mocked to the Arizona Cardinals at No. 4 overall in the first round of the 2024 NFL Draft.

9 hours ago

Arizona Cardinals GM Monti Ossenfort talks to reporters...

Tyler Drake

Monti Ossenfort keeping trade options open as Cardinals’ draft board nears completion

The Arizona Cardinals have about 95% of their draft board completed about a week out from the NFL Draft and continue to look at all avenues.

1 day ago

Monti Ossenfort looks on during the 2023 NFL Draft Combine...

Tyler Drake

Daniel Jeremiah: NFL Draft is Cardinals’ moment to set up franchise for years to come

The 2024 NFL Draft marks a big set-your-franchise-up situation for the Arizona Cardinals, says NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah.

2 days ago

Cardinals owner Michael Bidwill speaks at a press conference...

Tyler Drake

Michael Bidwill: Cardinals ‘aligned on getting this thing right’ in 2024

Michael Bidwill believes the Cardinals aren't that far off from really turning things around under Jonathan Gannon and Monti Ossenfort.

3 days ago

Marvin Harrison Jr....

Nick Borgia

Marvin Harrison Jr. remains Cardinals top pick in latest ESPN mock

With the 2024 NFL draft just around the corner, ESPN's latest mock draft details what could be in store for the Cardinals' first six picks.

3 days ago

Rome Odunze...

Kevin Zimmerman

Peter Schrager’s NFL mock draft has a surprising Cardinals trade-down with Giants

Peter Schrager believes the New York Giants could trade with the Arizona Cardinals, who move down to the No. 6 pick to select Rome Odunze.

4 days ago

Justin Bethel aims to emerge as a cornerback in 2015