Joel Wilkinson is another of the AFL gang to seek fame and fortune, let us be honest, primarily fortune, in the National Football League. He will have an Australian ally as he tries to make the Arizona Cardinal’s 53-man roster in ex-Geelong Cats and current Cardinals’ punter Ben Graham.
Wilkinson, closer to Jarryd Hayne than either Graham, or another Australian punter, Sav Rocca, will be attempting to catch on at one of the more difficult positions in the game of gridiron, that of cornerback for the defense.
The positon of cornerback is inherently difficult, as the defensive player must react to speedy and athletic wide receivers who know where they are going on a pass route, while the cornerback can only guess. NFL rules favour the offensive player as well, prohibiting almost any contact with the receiver more than five yards beyond the line of scrimmage.
Graham is an ideal mentor. After 219 games with the Cats, he has played eight years in the NFL, including three with the Cardinals.
When the Cardinals begin Organised Team Activities, Wilkinson will be tested by one of the best receivers ever to play the game in Larry Fitzgerald. He will also compete with two top NFL cornerbacks currently on the Cardinals’ roster, Patrick Peterson and Justin Bethel.