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Arians on playmaking Mathieu: 'He's all over the field'

Back in early September, Arizona Cardinals coach Bruce Arians raved about defensive back Tyrann Mathieu as the happiest draft choice he and general manager Steve Keim have ever made.

It's easy to see why Arians is so thrilled with Mathieu, who has been the NFL's best all-around defensive back this season.

"He's all over the field. We ask him to do so much," Arians told SiriusXM NFL Radio on Tuesday. "People don't realize how good a blitzer he is. He's a powerful little guy. He's got a little bull-rush to him. And he's slippery. He gets his hands on balls. I just love the passion he plays with."

After playing "with one arm and one leg" last season -- as Arians explained in May -- Mathieu has emerged as a litmus test for football analysts over the past two months. Those who have watched him play week-in and week-out understand he impacts the game as much as any defensive back, showcasing rare instincts, a high football IQ, toughness, top-notch ball skills, excellent range and natural ballhawking tendencies.

A versatile playmaker who free lances near the line of scrimmage, Mathieu currently holds the top spot among cornerbacks in coverage, run defense and pass rush, per Pro Football Focus' grades. We have never seen one defensive back with a clean sweep in all three of those categories.

The best compliment we can give the "Honey Badger" is that he plays like a combination of undersized but fierce former Vikings cornerback Antoine Winfield and disruptive free lancing former Steelers safety Troy Polamalu.

Mathieu was a no-brainer choice for Around The NFL's quarter-season All Pro team and will remain so next week on the midseason All-Pro squad. In a year without a clear frontrunner for the Defensive Player of the Year award, Mathieu should be considered for that honor as well.

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