Tyrann Mathieu has impressed the Cardinals at safety. In OTA practices, players don’t wear pads, and they’re supposed to stay on their feet with minimal contact. When I watched the other day, Mathieu, working with the first unit for part of the practice, made a diving pass break-up of a Palmer throw and was buzzing around plays all through the workout. The first thing you notice about Mathieu is his size — at 5-9, he’s probably three inches shy of what’s optimal for the position — and the second is his instinct. He’s clearly at home on the practice field, pointing out coverages pre-snap and changing direction smoothly. “He reminds of Troy Polamalu with his closing speed,” said Palmer. “He might not be the fastest guy out there, but he can change directions and get to the ball really fast, like Troy.” So far so good for the 69th pick in the draft, but June, obviously, isn’t the time to make any judgments on rookies.
While Mathieu is short for a safety, it didn’t stop former NFL safety Bob Sanders from being a great player. I think he’ll be just fine.
At the end of the day, Mathieu will figure out ways to make big plays.