The Arizona Cardinals have a ton of undrafted free agents to know, so over the next couple of weeks we will be highlighting some of those players and give you an inside look.
We will start with Sojourn Shelton, the undersized cornerback from Wisconsin.
Jake Kocorowski of Bucky’s 5th Quarter was kind enough to stop by and drop some knowledge on the Wisconsin grad.
1. What are Shelton's biggest strengths as a CB?
B5F Though he's 5'9 and weighed a shade under 180 in Indianapolis at the scouting combine, Shelton really held his own against next-level competition, including the likes of No. 5 overall pick Corey Davis in the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic, Penn State's Chris Godwin in the Big Ten Championship Game, and LSU's wide receivers in 2016. You can attribute that to a variety of factors.
Off the bat, he's just confident. In 2016, he was coached under 10-year NFL veteran Jim Leonhard in the secondary, and this aura of confidence was seen throughout the season (it was seen in 2015 as well, but last year was taken to the next level, in my opinion). He also trained with former 11-year vet Tyrone Carter up in the Twin Cities in preparation for the combine. Carter was particularly impressed with him, telling me Shelton is "5’9 with a soul of a 6’4 cat." Yeah, he's undersized, but his work ethic and drive have him set up to play at the next level.
Shelton showed he could get physical with his receivers and frequently displayed quick hips and the ability to break on the ball quickly--so much so with the latter trait that Carter himself was impressed when we spoke with him in February.
Lastly, he's versatile with where he can play in the secondary. He acknowledged at Pro Day many teams were looking at him as a slot nickel back, but he can play on the outside or be slotted inside. That's how Leonhard played him back there to get the best match-ups for the defense last season, and I think Arizona could use him in both areas depending upon match-ups.
2. Has he played safety, do you think he could?
I think the Cardinals could use him multiple ways in both the slot and possible even outside corner. From what you've told me in our Q&A, along with hearing a few things on my end, his strengths could very much be utilized in multiple defensive back sets.
Safety is interesting, because I never saw him play back there in his time at UW and was always on the corner covering receivers on the outside. I'm not an expert at scouting defensive backs in the least, but I think I could see him playing that position but it'd probably may be a match-up problem against bigger tight ends. He appeared willing to tackle in his time at UW. Yes, he won't in all likelihood stop a Marshawn Lynch or bigger back on a third-and-one stop, but he did record 31 tackles last season.
3. What type of special teams contributor is Shelton?
Along with starting a school-record 51 games in four seasons, Shelton also played special teams during his time in Madison. To be honest, I don't recall exactly which positions he played or how many units he was used on during his career, but he for sure caused a forced fumble back in 2015 and returned three punts that season as well.
With covering him the last four years at B5Q, I can guarantee you he'll make every effort to make the roster at the next level. That includes putting himself out there in that critical third phase of the game. I can see him contending for spots on the kickoff and punt coverage units.