Heading into training camp, it’s worth taking a look at a few IDP position battles that have yet to be resolved. There is potential production available on the waiver wire depending on who wins each role. And knowing who’s competing in each battle will give you a leg-up when injuries inevitably occur.
Arizona Cardinals CB
The starting CB role opposite of Patrick Peterson is usually an IDP gold mine. Peterson was the least targeted CB in the league last season. That funnels a lot of targets to the opposing CB.
Last season, Justin Bethel started the first six games. Tramon Williams took over for the remaining ten games. If you put their numbers together, you’d end up with 68 tackles on the season. That would be good for 3rd among CBs last season behind T.J. Carrie (70 tackles) and Dontae Johnson (69 tackles). In 2016, Marcus Cooper started 13 games as the outside CB across from Peterson, he ended with 69 total tackles.
Bethel signed in Atlanta while Tramon returned to his old stomping ground in Green Bay. That means there’s an opening across from Peterson again. Since GM Steve Keim puts almost no importance on the position, it will likely be up in the air with a few guys competing for the chance to start.
The most likely starter will be Jamar Taylor. Arizona traded a 6th Round pick for the former Brown after Cleveland drafted Denzel Ward. Taylor has always been solid if unspectacular. This will be Taylor’s 6th season since being drafted in the 2nd Round by Miami. In those five seasons, Taylor has three interceptions, all in 2016. He is a good tackler, however, totaling 62 last season. If he starts all season, Taylor will put up big tackle numbers but very few big plays.
Another option is Brandon Williams. Arizona drafted Williams in the 3rd Round in 2016. B. Williams played 240 defensive snaps as a rookie and 0 defensive snaps as a sophomore. That’s the opposite trend of what we like to see. But he’s getting the chance to compete, so it’s worth keeping an eye on him. Arizona also signed Bene Benwikere from Dallas and drafted Chris Campbell in the 6th Round. Benwikere played a total of 10 defensive snaps in Dallas last season, but he is familiar with the new system.
You may ask why I’m spending time discussing a 3rd Round bust and a 6th Round rookie. New head coach Steve Wilks is why. Known as a DB-Guru, in 2012, Carolina drafted a CB in the 5th Round. As a rookie, this CB started 12 games for Wilks and put together 73 tackles and 7 PDs. That CB’s name is Josh Norman. If anyone can turn B. Williams or Campbell into a competent starter across from Peterson, it’s likely Wilks.
Another thing to keep in mind, Arizona under former DC James Bettcher, almost never used CBs in the slot. With the deep depth chart of Safety talent headlined by Tyrann Mathieu, Bettcher always rolled with a 3rd Safety in nickel packages. Under new HC Steve Wilks, Arizona will begin using slot CBs in nickel situations. Don’t run to the waiver wire for the slot CB though. Last season, Captain Munnerlyn was the slot CB in Carolina. Munnerlyn totaled 388 snaps in 14 games.