Plenty of people said they thought the Cardinals had one of the steals of the draft when they took Tyrann Mathieu in the third round last April and those that didn’t are probably wishing they had after watching his play for the first two months.
Mathieu has made a smooth transition from collegiate cornerback in 2011 to starting NFL free safety in 2013 and was named October’s defensive rookie of the month as a result of his strong play. Mathieu hasn’t been quite the gamebreaker he was at LSU, but the team’s probably thrilled to see him handling his job well at the back end of a strong defense all the same.
Mathieu had 20 tackles, a sack and an interception for the Cardinals this month as they went 2-2 to remain in the mix for a playoff spot in the NFC. Even if the erratic offense finds some firmer footing in the second half, the defense is likely to be the thing that keeps them there so Mathieu’s quick transition to professional life is a big help on that front.