In the first round of the 2011 NFL draft, the Arizona Cardinals selected cornerback Patrick Peterson. Since that time, Peterson has not missed a regular season or playoff game. However, Arizona faces the first six regular season games without their All-Pro cornerback. The Cardinals spent considerable resources during the offseason to address the cornerback position. Today we take a look at the Arizona roster, and preview the cover guys, the cornerbacks.
CB 1: Byron Murphy
CB 2: Robert Alford
It has been two months since the NFL formally announced the suspension. The Cardinals prepare for a training camp battle to determine the top cornerback pairing. Arizona has relied on their number 21 to patrol one side of the field, while shuffling the deck opposite him. Peterson lacks the interception numbers that casual fans flock towards. However, he is among the best in coverage in the league. Replacing Peterson in the starting lineup will be tough.
Patrick Peterson allowed just 0.63 yards per snap in coverage a season ago, second among CBs and second-lowest of his career. pic.twitter.com/PQeqXcBge9
— PFF (@PFF) June 27, 2019
The Cardinals certainly have a deep group up for the challenge. Rookie Byron Murphy is the clubhouse leader to serve as the immediate replacement for Peterson. Arizona’s second round selection, Murphy was considered as one of the top cornerback prospects in 2019. He often followed the opposition’s top receiver during his college career.
Many consider the drafting of Murphy to be the first signs of Arizona preparing for a future without Peterson. The veteran cornerback reportedly requested a trade during the 2018 season. Throw in a six game suspension to start the season, and the Cardinals are focusing on the future.
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Arizona signed two veteran cornerbacks with extensive starting experience. Tramaine Brock Sr. and Robert Alford have a combined 15 seasons in the NFL. Brock has the edge in NFL seasons (9), but Alford has started more games (76). Brock was drafted in 2010 by the 49ers. He was a key contributor during his time there primarily as a backup.
— Darren Urban (@Cardschatter) April 2, 2019
Alford spent his first six seasons with the Atlanta Falcons. He became full-time starter during the 2014 season, his second year in the league. Brock spent last season with the Broncos. His current defensive coordinator, Vance Joseph, was the head coach of the Broncos in 2018.
LIVE: Robert Alford Press Conference https://t.co/mBEuGUSDSK
— Arizona Cardinals (@AZCardinals) April 9, 2019
With Brock and Alford, the Cardinals have a pair of reliable veterans to lean on. The rest of Arizona’s cornerback room average just two seasons in the NFL. The Cardinals will need their pair of veterans to be the leaders of the group. If the young guys are unable to get up to speed, it could doom the Arizona defense.
Birds of Prey
The Cardinals have a good mix of veterans and young players. On paper it is a talented group. However, paper champions mean nothing. Arizona needs Murphy to prove his worth as a second round selection. The Cardinals need nothing more than median level play opposite him. If they can get that, the Cardinals will be in great shape at the midway point. Patrick Peterson is likely to return in Week 7. It’s a safe bet to assume the man they call Pat Pete to return with fury. Good luck passing on that defense if that’s the case.
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