Cardinals Draft Primer: Cornerbacks

Cardinals cornerbacks struggled last season, registering only 11 interceptions. Five of those picks belonged to Antrel Rolle, who will move to free safety next season. Arizona needs to to replace Rolle with another playmaker before that interception total drops to single digits. Cardinals expert Amberly Richardson explores the top options available.

The Arizona Cardinals are likely to select two corners in this year's draft, but are weighing their options as to whether one of the prospects will hear his name called when the Cardinals are on the clock at No. 16.

Rod Graves has downplayed his concern over the corner position, but told AZRedReport.com that you can never have enough defensive backs. He'd like to bolster that group through the upcoming draft, but will take what the board gives him.

The player the Cardinals want most is CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (6'2", 182 pounds). Unfortunately, strong showings at the Senior Bowl and NFL Combine have Rodgers-Cromartie expecting a top-ten selection.

Rodgers-Cromartie's pedigree and raw athleticism put his name on the lips of every other team picking before the Cardinals. His prom-king popularity isn't a fluke and he and Leodis McKelvin (Troy) are jockeying for pole position amongst cornerbacks.

McKelvin (5'11", 190 pounds) stands out because of his speed and anticipation, but he might not be ready to compete for a starting role as a rookie, and Steve Breaston has closed the market for return specialists.

Mike Jenkins (South Florida) is also a top-20 pick who the Cardinals could consider. Jenkins (6'0", 200 pounds) can cover the larger receivers in the league and is a shutdown defender with good recovery skills.

Jenkins could find himself competing with Aqib Talib (6'2", 202) and Antoine Cason if the other names are gone.

If the ball is in the air, Talib finds his way to it, but he can also play against the run and is a sure tackler in the open field. He was second only to Rodgers-Cromartie in reach drills, vertical jump (38.0") and broad jump (10'11") at the Combine.

Cason (6'0", 190 pounds) deserves to be mentioned with the top five corners of the draft; an extended stay in Arizona would work out well for both he and the Cardinals. The Phoenix Suns have already sported his "Cason Cares" charity bracelets at games and the state and people have been good to him.

On the field, Cason has a packed highlight reel. He finishes the plays that his coverage starts; he has impeccable timing and great vision; and he would be a workhorse for the Cardinals for years to come.

If the Cardinals decide to choose elsewhere with their No. 1 pick, Brandon Flowers (Virginia Tech) could be waiting in the wings in round two. Flowers' former college teammate, Eric Green, should be more than happy to show him the ropes.

When asked of his most influential teammate at Virginia Tech, Flowers didn't hesitate: "I want to say Eric Green because he was a senior when I got there. He just kind of took me under his wing. The first day he just took me through all the coverages and what not to do and what to do."

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. Her analysis has been published by the NFL Network, Fox Sports and MySpace Sports.


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