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Cardinals confident in NFL Draft haul of CBs; consider Wilson biggest steal

General manager Steve Keim (R) of the Arizona Cardinals talks with president Michael Bidwill before the NFL game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at State Farm Stadium on December 08, 2019 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

For the most part, the Arizona Cardinals exited the 2021 NFL Draft with multiple positions of need filled.

Of the most important was the Day 3 additions of cornerbacks Marco Wilson and Tay Gowan.

With cornerback depth a priority, general manager Steve Keim hit the final day of the draft aggressively, trading into the fourth round to grab Wilson before getting Gowan later on in the sixth.

“We feel very, very good … especially when you see the type of players they got, and in my opinion, where we got them in the draft,” Keim said. “To me, we have two guys who both have great size and tremendous skills for the position.”

On Wilson:

“Marco Wilson’s a guy who can play inside in nickel, he can play outside,” Keim said. “He started over 30 games in the SEC and has played against the top receivers that were in the NFL Draft this past season and we felt handled that pressure very, very well.”

On Gowan:

“Tay Gowan is a guy who only played one year for Central Florida but at almost 6-foot-1 the guy ran in the 4.4s, he’s got great athleticism as well and he’s a really good press corner, so he fits what we do schematically,” Keim added. “Really excited about the fact that we have two young corners who can run and cover and we can develop in this scheme.”

Keim had rave reviews, but the CBs were still waiting for their names to be called on Saturday afternoon for a reason, only adding to the chips on their shoulders. Gowan was coming off a 2020 in which opted out for his daughter’s health amid the COVID-10 pandemic, while Wilson had a down year last season that included a lose-your-cool moment. Injuries were also a factor in Wilson’s drop.

It did little to deter either’s confidence, especially when talking to Gowan.

“I feel I’ll be the Tom Brady of the corners,” Gowan said. “I think I needed this in my journey and the way I approach the game. I want to say thank you for the wait, actually.”

As for the biggest steal of the Cardinals’ 2021 draft class?

“Based on need I would say, kinda going into the weekend and how things fell, Marco Wilson,” Kingsbury said. “Just his athleticism, his workout, what we think of him as a staff and as a personnel department, he’s a big-time talent to get where we got him.”

“I would probably echo Kliff’s sentiments, just because when you look at the big picture, the guy has such a high ceiling yet has a pretty high floor as well,” Keim added. “I think he’s going to be a really good player and for him to fail with those athletic traits and his passion for the game, I think when you look at the risk to reward it’s pretty high.”

While the Cardinals doubled down on corners in this year’s draft, the tight end position was not addressed.

For Keim, it was about prioritizing his draft board over position of need.

“We didn’t want to get into a position, even with those corners, as most people would ask about the specific need for corner, we wanted to let the board fall to us the right way. … Same thing with the tight ends,” Keim said.

“We’ll trust the process. We really didn’t feel like there were any tight ends that warranted selections at the spots we were at. We had high-graded players and we will address that in free agency. We feel like there’s a couple guys that could potentially help us.”

Cardinals’ 2021 NFL Draft class

– LB Zaven Collins (1st)
– WR Rondale Moore (2nd)
– CB Marco Wilson (4th)
– DE Victor Dimukeje (6th)
– CB Tay Gowan (6th)
– S James Wiggins (7th)
– C Michal Menet (7th)


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