Mediocrity: A characteristic of the 2020 Arizona Cardinals.
After acquiring one of the NFL’s top wide receivers in DeAndre Hopkins from the Houston Texans last offseason, the Cardinals were slated to bring an innovative and exciting offense to the forefront of football behind second-year signal-caller Kyler Murray and head coach Kliff Kingsbury.
However, ranking 14th in points scored and 12th in points allowed, Arizona sat as a middle of the pack team, dropping five of their last seven contests to miss the playoffs via tiebreaker.
After a disappointing end to the season, the Cardinals have had a noticeable emphasis on adding more impact players to both the offensive and defensive sides of the football.
Making noise with the additions of James Conner and A.J. Green offensively, as well as J.J. Watt and Malcolm Butler defensively, the Cardinals drastically improved their star power from last season to next.
However, as new faces have walked in the door, old faces have walked out, namely in the form of veteran defensive back Patrick Peterson. As a result, a need for a committee to replace the unique talent has been created, something Arizona understood going into day three of the NFL draft.
Targeting Florida cornerback Marco Wilson in the fourth round of the draft, Arizona looms to utilize his athleticism to maintain a high level of play in the secondary.
How does Wilson fit into the revamped defensive unit Arizona has constructed this offseason?
With an unorthodox story of draft success, Wilson’s move from college to the NFL is one that contains loads of the unknown.
Starting at Florida as a true freshman, Wilson would burst onto the scene in Gainesville as another addition to the long list of lockdown corners the Gators produced in the 2010s.
Making a name for himself with 34 total tackles and 10 pass breakups as a freshman, Wilson would enter year two with high expectations for his future, slated as a future first-rounder.
However, tearing the ACL in his left knee against Kentucky in 2018, a major setback to his progression would occur. Struggling to fight back from his second ACL tear — tearing his right knee during his junior year of high school — Wilson could not return to his previous form in the remainder of his career at Florida.
Undergoing his most difficult year at UF in 2020 — finding himself out of position at a high frequency and playing in his own head — Wilson bounced back with a stellar pro day performance to catapult his stock into the fourth round of the NFL draft.
Being selected by the Cardinals, Wilson sees an opportunity in the secondary alongside talented veterans, allowing him to make mistakes early on and learn from the experienced lineup the roster withholds.
Slated to operate beside Butler, Robert Alford and Budda Baker, Wilson is set to enter a unique situation immediately upon his entry to the professional level, likely to see early time on the outside of the Arizona defense in moderation.
Looking back to Wilson’s early days as a Gator, the Fort Lauderdale native has showcased an impeccable athletic profile, displaying a chiseled frame with desirable speed for an outside corner.
Playing with that elite athleticism, Wilson brings a high potential for playmaking ability to Arizona, something they will be missing in the absence of Peterson. Unlikely to see the success of Peterson, Wilson’s athletic attributes alone pit him as a vital piece to Peterson’s replacement in Glendale.
Leaving a sour taste in the mouths of Gators fans, Wilson’s move to the NFL brings new life to each party. Containing the battle-tested nature and foundational skillset to provide youthful energy to Vance Joseph's defense, the former American Heritage prospect projects higher than many may think.
While the days of throwing shoes leave a black mark on his career at Florida, the former freshman standout looks to overcome his shortcomings in blue and orange as a special teams player and an early rotational piece on the outside of the Cardinals secondary.