Questions at cornerback still unanswered for Cardinals

I can sum up my answer to the first portion of this question in one word: No.

As for the two follow-ups, I’ll stick with my initial answer: No and no. To be fair, though, the Arizona Cardinals can’t bring back Jerraud Powers anymore. He signed a one-year deal with the Baltimore Ravens on Friday. But that still doesn’t change my mind on Antonio Cromartie. I don’t see that happening.

So, as I asked Friday, when I wrote about this same topic following the announcement of Powers’ signing, where does all this leave the Cardinals at right cornerback?

Not in a good place, that’s where.

Justin Bethel is slotted to be the starter after he recovers from foot surgery he underwent in April. But as I’ve been saying for months now, he’s not experienced enough yet to be a starting cornerback in the NFL. He has two regular-season starts and two playoff starts under his belt, but Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers picked on Bethel like he was his little brother last year in Week 16 and in the divisional round.

Bethel has the potential to become a good corner but he still needs time. He didn’t get into the Cardinals’ defensive rotation until last season -- his fourth in the NFL. He’s a Pro Bowl gunner. That’s his specialty. That’s what he’s perfected. Cornerback is a complex position that requires a lot of meeting room work, studying and field work to merge on the field. But that can take years. Bethel has the athleticism. He just needs more work, which he won’t get this offseason because of the surgery.

That, however, will leave the door open for a slew of other cornerbacks, but they share a trait with Bethel: They’re all inexperienced. Arizona drafted two cornerbacks who very likely won’t be ready to start Week 1. And there are reasons Cariel Brooks and Carrington Byndom didn’t play last year after Mathieu went down and Powers slid into the slot, which promoted Bethel to the starting lineup.

The Cardinals could’ve found an instant fix at cornerback by drafting an experienced corner in the first three rounds. Instead, they went with Brandon Williams, who played just one season of cornerback before getting drafted in the third round out of Texas A&M.

There’s still time, however. General manager Steve Keim has become known for adding veterans either right before or during training camp who have significant roles. It could happen again this year. The Cardinals need it.