When the Arizona Cardinals selected Tyrann Mathieu in the third round of the 2013 NFL draft, many wondered if it was a bit of a reach. At the time, it certainly seemed to be a bit of a gamble seeing as how he did not even play a single down the year prior after being kicked of the LSU Tigers football team for many off the field issues that plagued him throughout his college career.
Former LSU teammate Patrick Peterson perhaps persuaded the Cardinals brass to draft the troubled Mathieu. In spite of the fact that Mathieu was a big question mark off the field, it seemed as though Peterson and the Cardinals believed enough in his natural playmaking abilities on it.
The "Honey Badger" himself even admitted his wrongdoing, and just wanted to prove to everyone that he is a changed man. Thus far, he has done so, and it has become quite eminent in his Tenacious videos that can be seen on AZCardinals.com.
The second year safety is entering his second year as a pro still recovering from a serious knee injury he suffered last season on a kickoff return against the St. Louis Rams in week 14, but it was his 13 weeks before that play that ended his season, that had many raving about his remarkable potential.
Mathieu tallied 68 total tackles, two interceptions, one forced fumble, one sack and nine passes defended in just 13 games his rookie season for the Cardinals. It was enough to convince the team that he is for sure a part of their future, and persuade others of a potential pro bowl berth.
Even the NFL caught onto his amazing ball-hawking abilities, and has become the ninth most dynamic safety in the league, according to NFL.com's Bucky Brooks.
The "Honey Badger" is the prototypical nickel defender that every defensive coordinator covets. Mathieu is an athletic safety with corner-like cover skills and a knack for playmaking. He is comfortable aligning anywhere, but he's at his best when deployed near the line of scrimmage as a lurking extra defender against the run or a sneaky rusher on passing downs. He routinely creates turnovers and makes disruptive plays all over the field. Mathieu blew out his knee last December, but if he can return to form, the second-year man has the natural ability to continue revolutionizing how defensive coordinators use nickel safeties.
I could not have said it any better myself.
When Mathieu returns from his surgically repaired knee, he will be joining a refurbished secondary on the field led by the afar mentioned Peterson, along with a proven veteran in Antonio Cromartie. Both of whom have a combined six pro bowl appearances between the two. Plus, they added 2014 first round draft pick Deone Bucannon to the mix.
The whole secondary is full of playmakers and Mathieu happens to be one of the best of them, even in his young career.
- Arizona Cardinals training camp information: Seating, parking, autographs and more
- Arizona Cardinals 2014 training camp preview and coverage
- Michael Floyd could be better than Larry Fitzgerald this season, says Pete Prisco
- Arizona Cardinals stats: Numbers on running the ball on 1st down
- 2014 NFL training camp: Arizona Cardinals RBs really have only one roster spot open