Tyrann Mathieu says he’s best defensive player in NFL when healthy

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Arizona Cardinals safety Tyrann Mathieu has come a long way from the perpetually troublesome athlete he was at LSU. Now four years into his NFL career, Mathieu has become a formidable defender with a knack for finding the football. His only significant issue during his tenure with the Cardinals has been an inability to stay healthy.

In Mathieu’s mind, when he is at full strength he’s the league’s best defensive player.

“I’m feeling great, it will be a great year for us,” Mathieu said in London, via Nicholas McGee of the Sporting News. “Any time I’m healthy I feel like I’m the best defensive player in the NFL.

Mathieu has been incredibly productive for the Cardinals in his four years with the team. He made the Pro Bowl in 2015 and was named a first-team All-Pro after racking up five interceptions, 17 passes defended, 89 tackles, a sack and a forced fumble in 14 games. However, that season also represents the most games he’s played in a season. He missed three games in 2013 and 2014 and another six games last season. That doesn’t include games Mathieu played at less than 100 percent due to injuries either.

Mathieu’s greatest ability would seem to be his availability, which is something that hasn’t always been possible with Arizona. While Mathieu likely isn’t capable of out-classing defenders like J.J. Watt, Earl Thomas, Luke Kuechly and Von Miller even at his peak, he certainly is among the better secondary players in the NFL when healthy. Finding an ability to remain that way will be his biggest asset.