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Arizona Cardinals’ 2019 Secondary School

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Arizona Cardinals Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images

Under new defensive coordinator Vance Joseph, the Arizona Cardinals are bringing back the base 34 defense. Joseph has made the priorities of his defense clear: stop the run, create a fierce and relentless pass rush and play sticky press man-to-man coverage with the expectation of creating a high volume of turnovers.

Come training camp in a couple of weeks, Vance Jospeh and his defensive back coaches will be conducting their 2019 secondary school, as they continue to teach and install the 34 base and the various forms of Joseph’s nickel.

The current enrollment in the Cardinals’ secondary school stands at 16. Most likely, 9 or 10 of these defensive backs will make the 53 man roster. So let’s take a look at this year’s classes:

Seniors

23 Robert Alford, CB, 5-10, 186, 30, 7, Southeastern Louisiana---veteran CB who had 9 tackles and an 82 yard pick six of Tom Brady in Super Bowl LI---but struggled through leg injuries within a depleted Falcons’ secondary last year. Looking for big bounce back season as the starting RCB.

20 Tramaine Brock Sr., CB, 6-0, 188, 30, 10, Belhaven College---had his best seasons with the 49ers. He played last year for the Broncos as a spot starter and nickel CB and earned the trust of Vance Joseph, Marcus Robinson and Greg Williams.

21 Patrick Peterson, CB, 6-1, 203, 29, 9, LSU---suspended first 6 games for PED and coverup violations---remains one of the elite cover CBs in the NFL and can help mentor the younger players.

27 Josh Shaw, S, 6-1, 200, 27, 5, USC---journeyman nickel CB/S who brings good size and experience.

36 D.J. Swearinger, S, 5-10, 205, 27, 7, South Carolina---brings alpha mindset and physical style of play to a secondary that needs to be more aggressive.

Juniors

32 Bubba Baker, S, 5-10, 195, 23, 3, Washington---made Pro Bowl as ST player as a rookie, looking to bounce back from injury marred, inconsistent sophomore season. Has All-Star potential.

30 Rudy Ford, S, 5-11, 204, 24, 3, Auburn---speedy and aggressive STs gunner who has yet to find his niche on the defense.

26 Brandon Williams, 6-0, 200, 26, 4---solid STs gunner who has consistently struggled as a cover CB.

Sophomores

25 Chris Jones, CB, 6-0, 200, 23, 1, Nebraska---has been receiving praise thus far from the coaches for his quick feet and attacking style.

28 Deatrick Nichols, CB, 5-10, 189, 25, 2, South Florida---undrafted college ballhawk who was activated from PS late last season and hopes to make a charge up the ranks this season.

42 Jonathan Owens, S, 5-11, 210, 23, 2, Missouri Western St.----physical and energetic player who spent last season on the IR after impressing coaches early on in workouts.

Freshman

41 Nate Brooks, CB, 6-0, 182, 22, R, North Texas---undrafted small school standout who brings good size and fluid hips.

33 Byron Murphy, CB, 5-11, 190, 21, R, Washington---the Cardinals’ 2nd round pick (#33) whom the Cardinals had rated in their overall top 10, by virtue of his dynamic level of play in the PAC 12.

39 Tyler Sigler, S, 6-2, 215, 23, R, Wheaton---undrafted small school star who could be a standout on STs and a backup at SS---could be this year’s STs surprise a la Zeke Turner and Dennis Gardeck last year..

35 Deionte Thompson, S, 6-1, 195, 22, R, Alabama---ballhawking All-American FS the Cardinals were ecstatic to draft in the 5th round. Should have an immediate niche as a nickel cover 2 FS.

** Jalen Thompson, S, 6-0, 195, 21, R, Washington St.---5th round pick in supplemental draft pick who has quick feet, ball skills and a 33” vertical which he uses to his advantage in hounding WRs in the slot.

Depth Chart (excluding Patrick Peterson until Week 7) Projection:

LCB1---Byron Murphy; LCB2---Tramaine Brock; LCB3---Deatrick Nichols

SS1---D.J. Swearinger; SS2---Josh Shaw; SS3---Jalen Thompson; SS 4---Jonathan Owens; SS5---Tyler Sigler

FS1---Budda Baker; FS2---Deionte Thompson; FS3---Rudy Ford

RCB1---Robert Alford; RCB2---Chris Jones; RCB3---Brandon Williams; RCB4---Nate Brooks

NCB1---Byron Murphy; NCB2---Tramaine Brock; NCB3---Jalen Thompson; NCB4---Josh Shaw

NC2S1---D.J. Swearinger; NC2S2---Deionte Thompson; NC2S3---Rudy Ford

53 Man Roster Prediction (Week 1):

CB (5): Alford, Murphy, Brock, J. Thompson (nickel), Jones

S (5): Swearinger, Baker, D. Thompson, Shaw, Ford