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PFF names two Cardinals on first release of top players

Arizona Cardinals defensive end Calais Campbell (93) celebrates a defensive stop against the Green Bay Packers during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 27, 2015, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

Pro Football Focus is releasing its ranking of the NFL’s top 101 players, and two Cardinals were on the first section of the list, released Monday.

The first of the two was guard Evan Mathis, a reigning Super Bowl Champion with the Denver Broncos. Before his lone season in the Mile-High City, Mathis was a two-time Pro Bowler and 2013 First Team All-Pro with the Philadelphia Eagles.

98. Evan Mathis, G, Cardinals

PFF’s affinity for Evan Mathis has been no secret over the years. He is a player that has consistently graded well when he has been on the field, and even this past season when carrying injuries and splitting time in Denver, he was one of the best-graded guards in the league, and the highest-graded run blocker. Pass-blocking has always been the weaker side of his game, though, and 2015 was the first season from him to earn a negative grade, surrendering three sacks and 22 total pressures over 1,010 total snaps (including the playoffs). At his age, it’s possible we have seen his best play, and in a passing league, he needs to pick that part of his game up to appear higher on this list in a year’s time. As a run-blocking guard, though, there is likely still nobody better. Even if he doesn’t bury his man, nobody wins as consistently as he does in that area.

Mathis has registered 130 NFL games, and is coming off a season in which the 34-year-old played 16 games for the Broncos. After signing a one-year pact with Arizona in the offseason, he sits just a spot above the Colts’ Andrew Luck on the PFF list.

Defensive end Calais Campbell came in at No. 89 after his second straight Pro Bowl season. He enters his age 30 season, having spent his entire career with Arizona. Campbell has 48.5 career sacks in eight seasons, with five of them coming last year with 46 tackles.

89. Calais Campbell, DE, Cardinals

Calais Campbell may not be the most explosive player in the NFL, but in terms of consistent production, there aren’t many better. While his ceiling may be some way short of J.J. Watt or Aaron Donald, he is still a major impact player on defense and capable of screwing up an offense’s plans almost single-handedly. He has four straight seasons of strong grades as both a run-defender and pass-rusher, and seven straight years of excellent pass-rush grades.

Like Mathis, Campbell is set to become an unrestricted free agent after next season.


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