With the NFL’s top 100 well under way, we here at Real Sport thought we would give you our own version; The RS 100. Every writer here had the chance to vote for the 100 best players from the 2015 season. This ranking was done regardless of position value or salary cap cost. It was simply based on who had the best 2015 season. As a result you won’t see quality players like Jordy Nelson anywhere on our ranking as he didn’t play a single snap in the 2015 season.
Voting panel: Toby Durant, Remy Cabache, Cameron Tennyson, Rebecca Rennie, Daniel Hernandez, David Pruett, Ryan Tolster
Tyrann Mathieu, Defensive Back, Arizona Cardinals
(TD: #10, RC: #6, CT: #7, RR: #9, DH: #12, DP: #15, RT: #14)
The ‘Honey Badger’ may well be one regarded as one of the best players in the NFL in the coming years and is absolutely one of the best draft steals at least in recent memory. Whether he is a safety or a cornerback, he excels and he is one of the most versatile player-makers in the NFL, and this year was as good an advert for that as ever.
In the Cardinals vaunted defense, Mathieu stands out thanks to that versatility. Despite being ‘undersized’, Mathieu excels as a high safety in base looks, a slot corner in the nickel, a box safety and as a blitzer. In every game he came up big at least once, whether it was a broken up pass, a QB hurry, a tackle for loss or all of them.
Until his week 15 injury, he was a legitimate Defensive Player of the Year candidate. By the time his season finished, he had amassed 89 combined tackles – 80 of which were solo tackles – 1 sack, 22 passes defensed, 5 interceptions, 1 forced fumble and 1 defensive touchdown.
Perhaps the biggest testament to the Honey Badgers impact last season, was the fact that the Cardinals lost two of their four games without him, and just about squeezed a win in one of the others. Though he may not have won the Cardinals those games, he certainly would’ve made an impact, and could have kept them in it at least.
If he can fully recover from this torn ACL, all reports suggest he will, then the sky is the limit for Mathieu.