ESPN: Cardinals’ Tyrann Mathieu is most versatile defender in NFL
Jun 19, 2016, 5:04 PM | Updated: Jun 20, 2016, 11:24 am
(Adam Green/Arizona Sports)
He’s not called the Honey Badger without reason.
While Cardinals safety Tyrann Mathieu embodies the spirit of the honey badger, he also plays with the cleverness of the animal. Mathieu’s smarts help him to play multiple positions and in different coverages, but the combination of wit and ferocity is the key to his adaptability.
It’s why ESPN Insider’s Matt Bowen calls Mathieu the most versatile defender in the entire NFL.
The most versatile defender in the NFL, Mathieu lines up all over the Cardinals’ secondary. With his range, coverage ability, ball skills and toughness, Mathieu can play outside of the numbers, roll down over the slot or patrol the deep middle of the field. Oh, and he can blitz, too. He’s going to get dirty and make plays versus the big boys. He can do it all for the Arizona defense. And I absolutely love his tape: tons of production from a variety of positions and coverage schemes in the secondary. You want to play matchups? Then this is your guy. Mathieu is the Swiss army knife every coach in the league is looking for.
Mathieu can play cornerback, safety and nickelback. For that reason, his current contract negotiations with the Cardinals as he seeks a hefty extension have been complicated.
In the last year of a four-year rookie deal, Mathieu wants to make the money as a top-tier NFL cornerback. But seeing as he’s utilized as a safety — they are generally paid less — Arizona may not be willing to open the checkbook to his likely.
Before tearing his ACL last season in Week 15, Mathieu compiled 89 tackles (second-best on the Cardinals) and co-led the team with five interceptions.
He added a forced fumble and a sack.