It’s never been a secret that Tyrann Mathieu’s versatility helps to make him valuable.
The defensive back who was chosen in the third round of the 2013 NFL Draft played cornerback in college, but has been a safety with the Cardinals.
Though, while he is listed as a safety, he spends a lot of time playing nickel corner, a position in which he excels.
Last season, before suffering a torn ACL toward the end of Arizona’s Week 15 win over the Philadelphia Eagles, he notched 89 total tackles to go along with five interceptions, one sack, 16 passes defensed and 11 tackles for loss.
Mathieu was a force, one who earned his first Pro Bowl nod and was in the running to be the NFL Defensive Player of the Year prior to the injury.
So really, it should come as little surprise that his name would come up when talking about the NFL’s most versatile defensive players. However, that he was named by three of the five NFL.com panelists who voted on the subject was, well, impressive.
From Heath Evans:
Early in his career, Tyrann Mathieu is comparable to some all-time greats
Mathieu has Ed Reed-type safety instincts combined with Kam Chancellor-type tackling security. People are always trying to find a weakness in his game, but there doesn’t seem to be one. The Cardinals can use him in so many ways because he’s good at all of the things you can’t teach, including instincts, recovery speed, vision, etc., which makes him more difficult to game plan for than even Troy Polamalu was. The kid is simply the best out there right now.
From Michael Robinson:
Honey Badger’s playmaking ability is unlike any other
I have to go with Tyrann Mathieu, but Khalil Mack is a very close second. Mathieu can play across the entire defensive backfield, and I just haven’t seen another player who can do that like he can. What makes him really special, though, is his ability to blitz and disrupt plays. He’s a huge playmaker for the Cardinals and every time the ball is thrown his way, there’s an opportunity for a change of possession. I think teams are starting to look for Mathieu-type players in the draft each year because they see how effective he is.
From Nate Burleson:
Cardinals’ safety can cover the NFL’s best skill players
This is a close one between two teammates, Arizona’s Patrick Peterson and Tyrann Mathieu, but I have to go with the safety. Mathieu’s ability to cover different positions proves his versatility. He can line up against some of the greatest offensive players in the league, from a dominant Rob Gronkowski to speedster Julio Jones to pass-catching running back Matt Forte. He’s able to do so much regardless of his size because of his speed and strength.
One of the folks who did not choose Mathieu was Eric Davis, though he kept it in the family with his choice.
Patrick Peterson succeeds at any position
This guy can do it all. He is a cornerback who can blitz, cover a receiver anywhere in the secondary, return punts and could possibly play wide receiver or running back. He has the quickness to do the tough work outside the numbers, but also has the build to go into the bike lane and deal with the banging. There are a lot of guys who can do one or the other, but Peterson can do both. He’s a huge talent for the Arizona Cardinals.
The only non-Cardinal to be named is the Texans’ J.J. Watt, as he was Shaun O’Hara’s pick. A three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year, four-time Pro Bowl choice and four-time First-team All-Pro who collected 17.5 sacks last season and has 69 over the last four seasons, chances are few would argue.
Still, there’s no doubt Mathieu is one of the most versatile defensive players in the NFL, with his varied skill set being a boon to both his career prospects and the Cardinals’ defense.
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