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Tyrann Mathieu earns praise at Arizona Cardinals camp

Perhaps Dez Bryant knew what he was talking about when he declared in April that Tyrann Mathieu was the best player in the 2013 NFL Draft.

Entering training camp, general manager Steve Keim complimented Mathieu on an "outstanding" offseason.

A week later, it's obvious that the NFL game already is slowing down for Mathieu. One scout told Ron Wolfley of Arizonasports.com that Mathieu has been "pound-for-pound, the best player on the field." An offensive assistant added that the third-round draft pick is "going to change the team."

Translation: The "Honey Badger" is undersized but still highly impressive.

Draft analysts praised Mathieu for his natural football instincts, so it should be no surprise that he's already comfortable at cornerback, safety and nickelback in coordinator Todd Bowles' defense.

"Tyrann is getting his hands on a lot of balls," quarterback Carson Palmer said recently. "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."

The early signs suggest the Cardinals might have the steal of the draft. Mathieu has the look of an NFL-ready playmaker, which should lead to a major role in a secondary that lost Adrian Wilson, Kerry Rhodes and Greg Toler from last season's roster.

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