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Cardinals Still Have Need at CB; Alabama's Patrick Surtain II Sells Himself as NFL-Ready

The 2020 SEC Player of the Year studies former Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson's tape.
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The Arizona Cardinals addressed the glaring need for a cornerback last week, agreeing to a one-year contract with 31-year-old Malcolm Butler. 

He would pair with Robert Alford, 32, on the outside as the roster is currently constructed, with third-year slot corner Byron Murphy Jr. as the nickel. 

With two corners past 30-years-old on one-year contracts, solidifying that position group through the draft is still a strong option. Alford has also missed the last two seasons with different injuries, and there is little depth on the roster behind him. 

One possible target for Arizona is former Alabama cornerback and 2020 SEC Defensive Player of the Year Patrick Surtain II. NFL Draft Bible's Ric Serritella had Surtain falling to pick 18 on his Monday mock draft, but many others have him sprinkled throughout the top 10. 

Should he fall to the Cardinals at 16, he could become a defensive anchor for years to come with the likes of 2020 first-round pick Isaiah Simmons and 25-year-old safety Budda Baker, who signed an extension through 2024.

Alabama head coach Nick Saban is bullish on the corner's ability to make the leap to the next level. 

"The guy's got really good skills to play the position; he's very instinctive," Saban told the media on Monday. "He's got great length, he's got great size. He's a good cover guy, got really good feet, is smart. He understands the game, he understands the offense and what they're trying to do. He's always very well prepared."

Saban said that Alabama assigns scouting report assignments to players, and Surtain always presents the best one. 

Being prepared is key for Surtain, as he said his success starts in the film room. Understanding receiver and quarterback tendencies as well as the route tree helps Surtain get a leg up. 

Physically, he has an NFL body at 6-foot-2, 202 pounds, and he ran a 4.42 40-yard dash during his Pro Day. Surtain believes he has the physical skills and mental awareness to be a shutdown corner in the league. 

"I'm physical, got great technique, can play off and in man coverage, plus my IQ is off the charts," Surtain said Monday. "So, I just feel like those things could translate into the NFL very well. Playing the position for a long time, I think my experience level . . . will help me elevate my game to the next level."

In press coverage, he mentioned how his combination of wherewithal and physicality come into play. 

"When it comes to press, eyes on the hips, feet, and hands," Surtain said. "Just patient at the line of scrimmage and force the receiver to release and dictate where he's going to go."

When asked which cornerbacks he studies, mentioned former Cardinals stalwart Patrick Peterson. Surtain said he reviews the tape of players with similar body types and who he sees as having similar skill sets. 

For the first time in a decade, the Cardinals won't have Peterson line up for them this year, as he signed with the Minnesota Vikings during free agency. Perhaps they could draft someone reminiscent of the former All-Pro's game at 16.