With that, the PFF Top 101 is complete and five Arizona Cardinals found their names on the list of best football players in the NFL.
Evan Mathis (98), Calais Campbell (89), Carson Palmer (40), and Patrick Peterson (32) find themselves joined by Tyrann Mathieu. That means that Larry Fitzgerald missed the list of best players in the NFL.
18. Tyrann Mathieu, DB, Cardinals
Whether you want to call him a safety or a cornerback, Tyrann Mathieu is one of the league's best defensive backs. He is a true playmaker on defense and has the ability to move around and cause matchup problems for offenses, putting them on the back foot for once in a league that usually forces defenses to react, not the other way around. Last season, he was having a Defensive Player of the Year kind of impact before missing the final two games of the regular season and the playoffs, leaving a big hole that the Cardinals weren't really able to fill. He is a versatile playmaker, capable of excelling in the run game, in coverage, and generating pressure on the blitz, and regardless of what position he gets labeled as, he's just a fantastic player.
Every Arizona Cardinals fan is nodding their head reading through the Mathieu summation. It is bittersweet to acknowledge his brilliance, and realize that we've yet to see it materialize on the biggest stage because of injury (whether that be in '14 because of not being back to 100% or '15 because of the injury).
I've made the comparison that Mathieu is the Bob Sanders of this Arizona Cardinals defense, the heart and soul of the team, but perpetually nicked up. Sanders never played in 16 games in a season, but his one completely healthy season, 2007 when he sat the last game with the rest of the Indy starters, the Colts made their loan Super Bowl run to a win.
Sanders was also Defensive Player of the Year that year. If Mathieu can be healthy for the entire run, I can see the same thing occurring, that's how important he is to this team.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Please leave the complaints about who did not make the 101 off this thread, I promise there will be a spot for it soon.