The list of candidates, in reality, is fairly short: Jerraud Powers or Justin Bethel. Another name or two may be added before training camp either through free agency or the draft, but either Powers or Bethel will likely be the starter.
While Bethel has been a hot name because of Bruce Arians’ comments last offseason that Bethel could be the best corner on the team at some point, former Cardinals defensive coordinator and current Jets coach Todd Bowles said don’t sleep on Powers.
“It’s going to be tough beating Powers out,” Bowles said Tuesday from the NFL annual meeting at the Arizona Biltmore. “Powers is tough. You keep forgetting about Powers. Powers is one of the best guys back there. He doesn’t get the credit. It’s going to be tough beating Powers out.”
Powers was one of Arizona’s starting corners opposite Patrick Peterson in 2013, Bowles’ first season in Arizona. Last year, with the addition of Cromartie, Powers played 590 out of 708 snaps in the slot, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
Bethel, in his third season, played 93 snaps last season. Despite his support for Powers, Bowles believes Bethel is close to being an impact player.
“Justin’s very talented,” Bowles said. “He has unbelievable talent. He just has to learn the game mentally a little bit. When he gets the mental part of the game down he’s going to be a very tough guy to beat. He’s just got to get the mental part down. Physically he’s very gifted. Very gifted.”
But Powers’ versatility could help earn him the starting job next season.
“Powers can play wherever you need him: corner, safety, nickel,” Bowles said. “Don’t underestimate him, please. He’s a tough guy.”