The Arizona Cardinals announced today they have signed former AFL player Joel Wilkinson as a corner back. Wilkinson is the second player from Australia in recent years to get a chance at the NFL level without playing in the college ranks after Jarryd Hayne signed with the 49ers last year.
Wilkinson who is 24, retired from the Australian Rules football back in July 2015 to pursue an NFL career. He first was with the Gold Coast Suns of the AFL, before moving on to the Northern Blues of the VFL. He has been working hard in Arizona to hone his skills to get a shot at the NFL and after two workouts the Cardinals singed him.
Wilkinson will have to compete in a very strong defensive back field that the Cardinals already have, as I am sure Hayne discovered the competition for positions and reps in the pre-season is fierce.
At Arizona, Wilkinson will be following in the footsteps of two other Australians in punter Ben Graham and less known defensive end Colin Scotts who both played with the Cardinals.
Last pre-season we saw a high of 7 Australian’s on rosters during the period that NFL teams can carry 90 players, the 2015 season is looking like we could even go above that number. We will just have to wait and see how it all pans out.