As the preparations for next season continue, it looks increasingly likely that the Arizona Cardinals may have captured a real gem with the signing of Tyrann Mathieu in the 2013 NFL Draft.
Dez Bryant of the Dallas Cowboys believed Mathieu was the best player in the draft after comments he made in April. And judging by the further praise Mathieu has been receiving in recent days, it seems he was right.
As Mathieu entered training camp, general manager Steve Keim applauded his new recruit for an "outstanding" offseason.
And now one week later, he has been described by one scout as "pound-for-pound, the best player on the field". Not bad for a 21-year-old.
Mathieu has often been regarded as a big future talent, but the LSU cornerback was often let down by some poor decision making, a trait that subsequently saw him banished from the LSU Tigers prior to the 2012 campaign.
But with Mathieu showing real signs of maturity, the results witnessed by the Cardinals are causing real excitement among staff at the franchise, with an offensive assistant stating his arrival is "going to change the team".
His pre-season form is also encouraging the Arizona players, with quarterback Carson Palmer impressed with what he has seen.
"Tyrann is getting his hands on a lot of balls. He's so quick and explosive in and out of breaks and reading concepts and knowing coverages and weaknesses in where we're trying to throw the ball," he said.
The Cardinals took a big risk when they made Mathieu their third round selection during the draft. But if recent reports are anything to go by, and Mathieu can keep his head down and focussed on football, it will certainly prove to be a risk worth taking.
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