Even in a league populated by physical freaks, Arizona Cardinals defensive end Calais Campbell is an anomaly.
With his combination of height, muscle and agility, Campbell is consistently a matchup concern for opposing offensive coordinators.
Now, he’s landed on ESPN insider Field Yates’ list of the the league’s biggest defensive matchup nightmares. Campbell, who is entering his seventh season with the Cardinals, is seventh in Yates’ pecking order.
Campbell’s numbers are very good, but it’s best to evaluate him by throwing out the stats. His combination of a thick build and length (he’s 6-foot-8 and 300 pounds) allows him to play practically anywhere along the defensive line. Campbell can line up as an edge rusher; he can anchor the middle of the line; he can play in a 3-4 or a 4-3 — no matter where he is, he’s bound to generate pressure. His long arms allow Campbell to ward off double-teams at the point of attack and wield leverage against stockier offensive linemen. He has a Watt-like feel for when to get his hands up in the passing lane, too.
Campbell is the third defensive end on the list, behind only Houston’s J.J. Watt (first overall) and St. Louis’ Robert Quinn (second overall).
In 2013, the former Miami Hurricane registered 58 total tackles and a career-high nine sacks for a defense that took great strides under first-year coordinator Todd Bowles. Campbell also forced one fumble, recovered two others and knocked down six passes.