With the first few waves of free agency in the rearview, the Cardinals are in the midst of their annual draft prep. GM Steve Keim will lay the groundwork to bring in a new class of rookies to supplement the roster already built and forge a direction upon which a few more free agents are likely to be signed.
Here is the second position group breakdown.
The Cardinals’ situation: Cornerback remains a critical position the Cardinals must address heading into the draft. The team could use a surefire No.1 on the depth chart and Robert Alford’s solid production last season may have to be replaced. Byron Murphy Jr. had a good 2021 as the team’s main defensive back, but he’s best when operating from the slot. Marco Wilson had a decent rookie season and should improve in 2022. Keim this offseason added Jeff Gladney, a physical cornerback capable of playing inside and outside, and hopes the former first-round pick can play a role.
The draft class: LSU’s Derek Stingley Jr., Washington’s Trent McDuffie and Cincinnati’s Ahmad Gardner headline a talented class of cornerback prospects. The trio will likely be taken before the Cardinals’ pick at No. 23. But if Clemson’s Andrew Booth Jr., Florida State’s Kaiir Elam or Washington’s Kyler Gordon are still available, don’t be shocked if the Cardinals select one. They all have upside and would help defensive coordinator Vance Joseph’s press coverage secondary in 2022.
The conclusion: Cornerback is certainly in play in the first round, and definitely figures to be a position addressed at some point in the draft. Alford could still return this season. Murphy and Wilson should take the next step in 2022. Gladney could be a hit. The Cardinals’ secondary should be in good shape next season if Keim can add a promising young cornerback.