It’s no secret that the Arizona Cardinals have bolstered their defensive secondary of late.
From drafting Patrick Peterson No. 5 overall in the 2011 NFL Draft and adding Tyrann Mathieu to signing Antonio Cromartie and drafting Deone Buchannon this offseason, the Cardinals have clearly made a commitment to stopping the pass.
A pair of analysts at NFL.com have taken notice.
In a poll of five NFL.com analysts on which team boasts the NFL’s top cornerback duo, two picked the Cardinals — Dave Dameshek and Elliot Harrison.
Both cited Peterson’s ability as a game-changing corner and the addition of an aging-but-still-talented Cromartie, and Harrison added that Mathieu’s presence gives Arizona one of the league’s best pass defense.
And Harrison’s take:
The NFL’s best pair of corners is Patrick Peterson and Antonio Cromartie. Russell Wilson and Colin Kaepernick are, no doubt, already aware of Peterson’s dominance in Arizona. In 2014, they’ll find throwing to the other side of the field significantly more difficult, thanks to the presence of Cromartie, whose best seasons came when he was paired with the league’s former (and future?) shutdown champ, Darrelle Revis. Throw in Tyrann Mathieu covering slot receivers, and throwing against the home team will be tough in the Valley of the Sun this season.
Easy choice. Give me those Cards: Patrick Peterson, Antonio Cromartie and some valuable flexibility in Tyrann Mathieu, who can play some free safety or walk down and cover the slot.
Peterson is Peterson, and although people need to hold off on fitting him for a gold jacket just yet, his potential is off the charts. Cromartie might be a hair older, but he can still run and always has had dimensions to lock up with the Y2K wideout. Although I’m kind of cheating here by bringing a third guy into play, Mathieu is too good to just ignore. Yes, he’s recovering from a serious knee surgery, but Cardinals GM Steve Keim just said the Honey Badger could be back for the opener. If he can indeed return to good health, Mathieu gives Arizona extraordinary depth in the coverage department.
Charley Casserly and Dan Hanzus said the New England Patriots have the best cornerback tandem in the NFL, while Bucky Brooks likes the Chicago Bears’ duo of Tim Jennings and Charles Tillman.
The Cardinals added Cromartie on a one-year contract this season that can be worth nearly $4 million. The veteran corner said Arizona is ‘on the verge of being a Super Bowl champion,’ and is expected to play a big role in the Cardinals’ attacking defensive scheme.