• Kent and Bob talk new NFL rules and wide out depth

    Kent and Bob talk new NFL rules and wide out depth

  • Arians Family Foundation Fundraiser at Top Golf

    Arians Family Foundation Fundraiser at Top Golf

  • Report card on Cardinals QB Blaine Gabbert

    Report card on Cardinals QB Blaine Gabbert

  • Watch out for Dodgers; Cards CBs apply for job

    Watch out for Dodgers; Cards CBs apply for job

  • What Deone Bucannon's injury means for Cardinals

    What Deone Bucannon’s injury means for Cardinals

  • David Johnson No. 1 on NFL Players Association list

    David Johnson No. 1 on NFL Players Association list

  • No throws for Cards QB, cheap shot in NBA?

    No throws for Cards QB, cheap shot in NBA?

  • Kaepernick blackballed? Greinke now trade bait?

    Kaepernick blackballed? Greinke now trade bait?

  • Kent Somers talks Cardinals rookies

    Kent Somers talks Cardinals rookies

  • Kent Somers talks Daryl Washington departure

    Kent Somers talks Daryl Washington departure

  • Cardinals rookies take to the microphone

    Cardinals rookies take to the microphone

  • Cardinals release linebacker Daryl Washington: Somers and Bickley discuss

    Cardinals release linebacker Daryl Washington: Somers and Bickley discuss

  • Shot Clock: Gabbert a terrible fit for Cards

    Shot Clock: Gabbert a terrible fit for Cards

  • Somers sits down with Arians on Cardinals' offseason

    Somers sits down with Arians on Cardinals’ offseason

  • Bruce Arians talks about his annual fundraisers

    Bruce Arians talks about his annual fundraisers

  • Daryl Washington-Cardinals meeting: What happened?

    Daryl Washington-Cardinals meeting: What happened?

  • Jim Hart to be inducted into Cardinals Ring of Honor

    Jim Hart to be inducted into Cardinals Ring of Honor

  • Shot Clock: Cards picks make instant impact?

    Shot Clock: Cards picks make instant impact?

  • Shot Clock: Tap brakes on Haason Reddick pick?

    Shot Clock: Tap brakes on Haason Reddick pick?

  • Sights and sounds from Cardinals draft party

    Sights and sounds from Cardinals draft party

  • Somers talks Reddick and possible 2nd and 3rd round picks

    Somers talks Reddick and possible 2nd and 3rd round picks

  • Kent Somers and Bob McManaman talk Cardinals draft of Haason Reddick

    Kent Somers and Bob McManaman talk Cardinals draft of Haason Reddick

  • Cardinals' top first round NFL draft picks since 2000

    Cardinals’ top first round NFL draft picks since 2000

  • Can Cardinals afford to be patient with another first-round pick?

    Can Cardinals afford to be patient with another first-round pick?

  • Cards face choices with draft, Daryl Washington

    Cards face choices with draft, Daryl Washington

  • What to know about the Cardinals' draft party

    What to know about the Cardinals’ draft party

  • Shot Clock: Cardinals trade up for QB?

    Shot Clock: Cardinals trade up for QB?

  • Top 5 special teams players of 2017 NFL draft

    Top 5 special teams players of 2017 NFL draft

  • Keim, Arians striking gold in draft's third round

    Keim, Arians striking gold in draft’s third round

  • Larry Fitzgerald, Chandler Jones talk about Celebrity Softball Game

    Larry Fitzgerald, Chandler Jones talk about Celebrity Softball Game

  • Cardinals looking for 'football character' in NFL draft

    Cardinals looking for ‘football character’ in NFL draft

  • Kent Somers talks with Cardinals DT Frostee Rucker

    Kent Somers talks with Cardinals DT Frostee Rucker

  • Cardinals DT Frostee Rucker on expectations, adding Karlos Dansby

    Cardinals DT Frostee Rucker on expectations, adding Karlos Dansby

  • Top 3 games in Cardinals schedule

    Top 3 games in Cardinals schedule

  • Cards playing dangerous game with RB Johnson?

    Cards playing dangerous game with RB Johnson?

  • Bruce Arians wants to know date of London game

    Bruce Arians wants to know date of London game

  • Keim on Cardinals' NFL draft prep

    Keim on Cardinals’ NFL draft prep

  • Shot Clock: New face of Cardinals franchise?

    Shot Clock: New face of Cardinals franchise?

  • Larry Fitzgerald holding 7th annual charity softball tournament

    Larry Fitzgerald holding 7th annual charity softball tournament

  • Larry Fitzgerald 1-on-1 with Kent Somers

    Larry Fitzgerald 1-on-1 with Kent Somers

  • NFL meetings in Phoenix: On Bruce Arians, new rules, the draft

    NFL meetings in Phoenix: On Bruce Arians, new rules, the draft

  • NFC coaches take questions at NFL owners meeting

    NFC coaches take questions at NFL owners meeting

  • Kent Somers talks with Bruce Arians at NFC coaches breakfast

    Kent Somers talks with Bruce Arians at NFC coaches breakfast

  • Bob McManaman talks to AFC coaches

    Bob McManaman talks to AFC coaches

  • At the NFL owner's meetings: AFC head coaches meet the media

    At the NFL owner’s meetings: AFC head coaches meet the media

“Opposite Patrick Peterson.”

It’s a phrase Cardinals fans have heard for the past two years and until the team actually finds a reliable cornerback it can trust to play – say it together now – opposite Patrick Peterson, it’s going to remain a familiar refrain.

Brandon Williams and Justin Bethel, for starters, would like you to refrain from that refrain. Privately, they will tell you that they are the best man for the job and that between the two of them, one will ultimately win the No. 2 starting cornerback spot by the time the 2017 season begins.

And yet there are no guarantees. Neither one of them could hold it down a year ago. Williams, then a rookie, got the first shot but lost it after just two games to veteran Marcus Cooper. Bethel was still dealing with lingering issues from a foot injury, was called a “failure in progress” by coach Bruce Arians, and at the tail end of the season eventually found a role as a “slot” corner.

Since Cooper left the team upon signing a free-agent contract with the Bears after parlaying his productive efforts across from Peterson, Arians has said “Brandon is ready” and “Justin is going to be much, much better.”

MORE: Cards WR John Brown prepared for key season

In the same breath, of course, Arians also said “the draft is loaded with corners.”

It was, but the Cardinals didn’t draft one until the sixth round, trading both of their seventh-round selections to the Raiders to move up and select Rudy Ford from Auburn. Ford has intriguing potential, but it’s difficult to imagine him challenging for a starting spot in his first season.

Meanwhile, the Cardinals passed on a slew of capable corners in the first three rounds. A handful of NFL-ready prospects were available early, including Alabama’s Marlon Humphries, who went 16th overall to Baltimore, and USC’s Adoree’ Jackson, who went 18th to Tennessee. They could have had one of these highly ranked corners, too – Florida’s Quincy Wilson (46th to the Colts), his former Gators teammate Teez Tabor (53rd to the Lions) or Connecticut’s Obi Melifonwu (56th to the Raiders).

PODCAST: Latest episode from ‘The Bird’s Eye View’

“I wasn’t sure what they were going to do, but at the end of the day, for me it doesn’t really matter,” Bethel told the team’s website recently. “If they brought in somebody, that’s good because we’ve got another young guy that we can build up over time that’s going to help the team. And if not, I’m still going to do what I’ve got to do on the field and work my ass off to try and get the position I want.”

Williams told azcentral sports that he’s ready for the challenge and that he likes his chances after digesting his first full NFL season. He was a running back until his final year in college at Texas A&M and it’s taken time to learn all the nuances of playing cornerback.

“It’s year two, man,” Williams said. “I’m more confident in what I need to do and I’m not going into a situation blind. I know what to expect out of OTAs. I know what to expect out of training camp. I know what to expect out of myself. That’s basically it.”

Autoplay

Show Thumbnails

Show Captions

It’s now, Williams said, when the Cardinals are about to “get the player they drafted.” Arizona selected him a year ago in the third round, where they routinely have found success under the current regime. They saw enough of the raw, natural talent to believe he could develop into a top-tier corner at some point. Williams dazzled so well in training camp as a rookie, though, that they handed him the keys to the job opposite Peterson.

Like Bethel the season before, however, opposing teams kept picking on that side of the field. Quarterbacks rarely throw in Peterson’s direction and when they do, Peterson usually makes them pay for it.

But with the window of opportunity supposedly closing on this current Cardinals roster, can the organization risk not having a dependable and at least semi-shutdown second cornerback in place in case Bethel or Williams can’t cut it?

ARIANS: Receivers group is his best ever

“Brandon Williams feels ready,” Williams said, adding he paid no attention to the draft and he isn’t worried about the competition from Bethel. “My concern is what I did, how I prepare myself and how I put myself into position to win. All that other stuff, man, it doesn’t concern me.

“I’m only concerned with myself. I can’t control what the other man does. I’m not worried about the competition. I wasn’t concerned about the draft, either. I’m focused on Brandon Williams.”

Of the nine cornerbacks presently on the roster other than Peterson, the one with the most NFL experience is Jumal Rolle, who was signed to a one-year deal as a free agent this offseason. He’s appeared in 19 games – 18 of them with the Texans – and missed all of last season because of an Achilles injury.

RELATED: David Johnson taking steps to NFL greatness

Rolle might not be the last veteran the club brings in to compete for the job. If for any reason the Cardinals feel they still need to address the position, be it due to injury or inconsistency, they might not hesitate to reach out to any number of notable unsigned free agents such as Brandon Flowers, Sam Shields, Alterraun Verner or Darrelle Revis.

So even if the No. 2 corner is here, it doesn’t mean he can’t or won’t be replaced.

Williams, for one, doesn’t think that’s necessary.

“I’m ready to show everyone what I can do,” he said. “I can’t wait.”

Reach McManaman at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @azbobbymac and listen to him live every Wednesday night between 7-9 on Fox Sports 910-AM on The Freaks with Kenny and Crash.

Autoplay

Show Thumbnails

Show Captions