Arizona Cardinals Rookie Watch: Tay Gowan

Cornerback Tay Gowan could be a sixth-round steal for the Arizona Cardinals after not playing in 2020 because of COVID-19
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The Cardinals minicamp ended Thursday, but it was an important time for the team’s rookies to get a lot of work with the veterans.

This is the fifth in a series that looks at 2021 rookies and the third of the team’s seven draft picks: Central Florida cornerback Tay Gowan.

The story includes a video analysis of Gowan from Ric Serritella of NFL Draft Bible.

The Skinny: Gowan is a long athlete with good eyes, displaying nice overall spatial awareness to make plays on the football. There are natural ball skills to make plays at the highest point with high regularity. Gowan is a flexible mover who can easily redirect in space. His combination of length, instincts and ball skills place him in the mix to make an immediate impact.

What They’re Saying: "When you look at the big picture, you realize that he hasn't played a ton of football, yet still looks that good on tape, still looked that good in his workout, you'd like to think he's another guy with a high ceiling and another guy who can come in here, learn under some really good veterans. The sky is the limit, in my opinion, or him." – Steve Keim, Cardinals general manager

What Gowan Said About Opting Out: “Going through my 2019 season, I dominated, and I knew that the 2020 season would have put me either in the first or second round based off my 2019 season. COVID hits, I have a premature daughter born at two pounds, and I got COVID and gave it to her, her mom, my mom. My mom was actually hospitalized for COVID, no one really knows that. I went through a rough time with COVID and at the time I feel like I needed to protect my family, so I made the decision to put football aside even though I’ve been playing since I was 5-years-old. It was one of the hardest decisions of my life, but at the end of the day, I’m a family man and will always put my family first no matter what.”

Tidbit: Selected by the Cardinals with their second pick of the sixth round (223rd overall) in the 2021 NFL Draft out of Central Florida. Became the first UCF player ever drafted by the Cardinals.

Background: Began his college career at the University of Miami (Ohio) in 2017 before transferring to Butler (El Dorado, Kan.) Community College where he played the 2018 season. Transferred to Central Florida in 2019. In three seasons (2018-19) at Miami, Butler CC and UCF, played in 24 games and totaled 59 tackles, eight interceptions (one returned for a TD), 12 passes defensed, three tackles for loss and a fumble recovery. Opted out of the 2020 season due to the pandemic.

How He Fits: Gowan is a long athletic player on the back end who has the ability to play a variety of coverages in the secondary. With defensive coordinator Vance Joseph placing a high value of emphasis on press-man coverage, Gowan has a chance to emerge as an integral part of the secondary on the boundary.

By the Numbers: The 6-foot-1, 186-pounder played in 24 games (20 starts) during his collegiate career. He started at Miami in 2017 and played one game there before playing 11 contests at Butler Community College in 2018. At Butler, he had a team-high six interceptions. After transferring to Central Florida in 2019, Gowan played in 12 games (nine starts), collecting 31 tackles and two interceptions and was named second-team all-conference by Pro Football Focus.