Now that the NFL has begun to release its Top 100 Players as they do every offseason, Pro Football Focus has done the same thing, although they look at it in terms of ratings and graded performance, and they do the top 101. The Arizona Cardinals had three players on that list of top players, but one player is notably absent -- receiver Larry Fitzgerald.
The three players that made it among the best are all defensive players -- cornerback Patrick Peterson, linebacker Daryl Washington and defensive end Calais Campbell. Peterson is number 83, Washington is 74 and Campbell 29.
Peterson was unranked coming into the 2012 season. PFF wrote this:
After the rookie year of Patrick Peterson there were plenty of plaudits and much excitement. But most of it stemmed from what he could do as a returner. As nice as that was for Arizona he was drafted to be one of the best cornerbacks in the league, and thankfully for the Cardinals faithful this was the year he took steps toward being that. The six touchdowns he got beat for remain an area to improve, but when you're tasked with going man-to-man with some of the best receivers in the game you can't expect to win them all. Peterson, who himself had seven interceptions and seven more pass defenses, more than held his own.
Washington, currently in the middle of a mess of an offseason, was also unranked heading into 2012.
The Cardinals' Washington obviously earned a lot of acclaim for his perfectly timed blitzing that saw him walk away with nine quarterback sacks and a further four hits. The downside was that he did miss 17 tackles and was susceptible to giving up some plays in coverage. A true impact player though who has made himself integral to the Arizona defense.
Campbell was ranked 57th coming into 2012. He made a huge jump and impact.
In the past we've viewed Campbell as someone who does his best work rushing the passer. Consider that evaluation changed as the Cardinals' defensive end really upped his game to become a complete player. Despite missing time he still finished third in our 3-4 defensive end rankings and was a guy opposing offensive coordinators paid a lot of attention to. A real destructive player.
Fitz would have made the list had he not had a disaster of a season. He was a Pro Bowler, but that was more about career respect because his 2012 stats did not merit it.
Coming into 2013, do you expect these three to maintain their status? Who will we be adding in a season? Fitz? Someone else?
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