Senior Bowl: Cards Target Play-making Corner

The Cardinals will shell out whatever it takes to land a quality play-maker in the secondary, but their scouts in Alabama found an intriguing prospect without the hefty price tag. Michael Lombardo reports from the Senior Bowl that the Cardinals found a rare player who can impact all three phases of the game.

Colorado cornerback Terrence Wheatley, a projected fourth-round pick in the upcoming draft, enjoyed a private meeting with Cardinals coaches at the Senior Bowl. Wheatley has big-play capabilities similar to those of Antrel Rolle, but with more consistency and versatility.

Wheatley plays aggressively without drawing penalties, a must-have for the penalty-prone Cardinals. He is insistent on creating turnovers -- nabbing 14 interceptions in his college career -- and was a top producer for Colorado.

"I'm a focused, driven player…a tough guy. I've been through a lot in my college career and I'm still showing up every day," Wheatley said. "I bring dedication and focus and I try to be a student of the game as much as possible. I'll do whatever it takes to get on the field and make plays."

The Cardinals cashed in on face time with Wheatley at the Senior Bowl. If Arizona can pick him up and plug him into the nickel-back role, a lot of other pieces would fall into place.

Adding Wheatley would allow defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast to move Rolle to free safety, where he would supplant the disappointing Terrence Holt.

Wheatley is also a dangerous kick returner, setting school records as a senior by returning 37 kickoffs for 919 yards (24.8-yard avg.). For Arizona, that means he could take over Steve Breaston, which would allow Breaston to focus on offense.

Breaston will carry a bigger load next season with Bryant Johnson expected to leave via free agency.

Wheatley is working diligently on fine-tuning his game between now and the draft. He made big strides at the Senior Bowl, progressing every day under the guidance of Oakland Raiders defensive coordinator Rob Ryan and his staff.

"There are a lot of little things that you can't get away with (in the NFL) that you did in college," Wheatley said. "(The Raiders coaches) helped me with that. Also, just using your eyes for pre-snap reads and stuff like that. They point out all of the details you probably didn't pay attention to in college that can help you in the pros."

With three more months of preparations, Wheatley could be the one providing help to a pro team. If the chatter amongst Arizona's scouts was any indication, that team could very well be the Cardinals.

Amberly Richardson is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America and a correspondent for Scout.com. She has contributed to the official Web sites of several NFL players for Sixthman Communications.


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