You probably remember how the NFL Network, as it does every offseason, released its list of the Top 100 players as voted on by, well, the players.
There were three Arizona Cardinals named, with defensive end Calais Campbell coming in at No. 99, receiver Larry Fitzgerald at No. 68 and cornerback Patrick Peterson at No. 19.
Bill Barnwell of Grantland.com put out his own Top 100 players list, and in his version just two Cardinals made the cut.
The lowest Card ranked is Peterson, who landed at No. 47.
I’m as big a Patrick Peterson fan as anyone, but 2014 was a disappointing season for Arizona’s star cornerback. The Cardinals took him off punt-return duties after signing him to a lucrative contract extension, which was smart, but it also removed a way for Peterson to contribute to the team. He wasn’t responsible for the 226-yard bomb Demaryius Thomas laid on the Cardinals, as that was mostly Antonio Cromartie’s handiwork, but Peterson’s early-season struggles were noticeable, even as Arizona’s defense continued to play at a high level. An ankle injury couldn’t have helped, but Peterson also revealed after the season that he had been diagnosed with diabetes. With Peterson’s blood sugar now under control, he expects to play better in 2015.
Peterson’s struggles last season have been well documented, and it is believed the diabetes issue was a major factor in why he wasn’t the player many expected him to be. Even still, he finished the season with 46 total tackles, three interceptions, one sack and one touchdown.
Now healthy, Peterson has talked about feeling rejuvenated, and head coach Bruce Arians has hinted that he may give the Pro Bowler another shot at returning punts.
The other Cardinal to make the list is Campbell, who came in at No. 29. Barnwell took issue with the first-time Pro Bowler’s ranking in the NFL Network version, which saw him a good many places below fellow defensive linemen Gerald McCoy and Ndamukong Suh.
Campbell does not belong 71 spots below McCoy and 75 spots below Suh, that’s for sure. He missed two games because Julius Thomas took him out with an illegal block and still managed to lead a mostly anonymous Arizona front seven to the league’s sixth-best run defense.
Statistically speaking, 2014 was not Campbell’s best season, as he finished with 59 tackles, seven sacks and one interception in 14 games. However, the former second-round pick has firmly established himself as one of the best defensive linemen in football, and his 2014 was good enough to give him a sixth straight season with at least 50 tackles and six sacks, extending a franchise record.
As for Fitzgerald, Barnwell noted in Part 1 of his rankings that while he believes the receiver does not belong in the top 100, his low standing is probably in part because of shaky quarterback play.