Arizona Cardinals’ Patrick Peterson and Michael Floyd rank high on ESPN’s list of top under-25 players
Wednesday, ESPN/Football Outsider’s Scott Kacsmar ranked all 32 NFL teams in terms of under-25 talent.
The Arizona Cardinals ranked high, coming in at number six on the list.
Thursday, Mike Sando and Mel Kiper Jr. put together an ESPN Insider piece ranking the Top 25 individual players in the league under the age of 25.
Once again, the Cardinals were well-represented.
Cornerback Patrick Peterson is ranked fifth.
Peterson went to three Pro Bowls and was a two-time first-team Associated Press All-Pro selection before his 24th birthday. He has not been a dominant punt returner since setting records as a rookie, and his play at cornerback has yet to become consistent. You won’t find a better all-around athlete, however. Peterson has all the tools to become a great defensive back, and he’s already good. Peterson checks in at No. 5 because he has played well already and has the size, speed, athletic ability, recovery speed and versatility to be great over the long haul.
Peterson has started all 48 games at cornerback for the Cardinals since they made him the fifth overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft out of LSU. In his three seasons, he has intercepted 12 passes and recovered nine fumbles.
Wide receiver Michael Floyd, whom many believe is poised for a true breakout season, came in at number 23.
It’s tempting to wonder how much longer Larry Fitzgerald will be the unquestioned best receiver in Arizona. Fitzgerald has worked so hard on all aspects of his game, and it shows in his consistency as an all-around player, including as a blocker. Floyd is just getting started, but he quickly earned quarterback Carson Palmer’s trust on 50-50 balls. That trust helped Arizona win in Seattle last season as Palmer found Floyd for the winning 31-yard touchdown late in the game.
Floyd, a first-round pick (13th overall) out of Notre Dame in 2012, eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark for the first time in his career last season, snaring 65 catches for 1,041 yards and five touchdowns. His 91-yard touchdown reception against the Jacksonville Jaguars was the second-longest in the league in 2013.
A couple of other Cardinals — guard Jonathan Cooper and defensive back Tyrann Mathieu — also received recognition from Sando and Kiper, but didn’t crack the Top 25.
Incidentally, Indianapolis quarterback Andrew Luck topped the list, followed by St. Louis defensive end Robert Quinn, Carolina middle linebacker Luke Kuechly and New York Jets defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson.