A theme the SB Nation NFL sites have been doing throughout this season is "Which [opposing team's] player would [your favorite team's] fans take?" With the Eagles set to take on the Cardinals this week, it's time to address the question.
The Cardinals have a number of appealing options to choose from. Their 3-4 defense is the highlight of the team's success, so we'll start there. Up front the Cardinals have a great set of defensive ends. Calais Campbell, all 6'8" of him, is a very good player. He gets done both as a pass rusher and a run stuffer. On the other end of the line is Darnell Dockett. He's a good starter as well.
In the way of linebackers, veteran John Abraham can get after the passer from the outside. Arizona's inside linebackers can play too. Karlos Dansby and Daryl Washington are a great pair of backers to have in the middle of the defense.
The secondary features a lot of talent as well. Rookie Tryann Mathieu, aka the Honey Badger, is having a great season. He looks like a steal of a pick for having been selected in the third round. Starting cornerback Patrick Peterson is also very talented. A former top 5 draft pick, Peterson in his third season.
On offense, the Cardinals don't have as much talent. Their offensive line is bad, and that's putting it kindly. What stands out on this side of the ball are the wide receivers. Larry Fitzgerald is a man who needs no introduction. His younger counterpart, Michael Floyd, is also coming on for the Cardinals. Andre Ellington is showing some ability as a rookie, but the Eagles are already set at running back.
So with all of this said, what makes the most sense for the Eagles? Considering the Eagles' offense is playing well, it's tempting to ignore this side of the ball and focus on improving the defense. The Eagles are solid up front with Fletcher Cox and Cedric Thornton, so I can't pick Campbell or Dockett. Philadelphia's inside linebackers could be upgraded upon but I don't think they're the biggest weakness of the defense. A desirable area to upgrade upon is the cornerback position.
The clear choice then is either Patrick Peterson or Tyrann Mathieu. Plugging in either of these guys at cornerback, ideally opposite of Bradley Fletcher, instantly improves the defense. There's no wrong choice between the two, but Mathieu is my pick. He's the more valuable player. Not only can he play on the outside, but he can also play in the slot. He covers well, but he also tackles well and can be used as a blitzer. Having him return punts and kicks is also an option. He's just a play-maker. And the Honey Badger moniker is too fun not to like. I'm all for adding guys with cool nicknames to the team.
Mathieu is my pick. Many will lament the Eagles decision not to draft him, but remember he was the 68th overall pick. He was passed on 67 times before the Cardinals finally selected him. There were some character issues surrounding him, having been dismissed from the LSU football team due to drug issues. The Cardinals were the ones to take the risk and so far it's paid off.
Who would you take?
- Nick Foles wins NFC Offensive Player of the Month Award
- Chip Kelly Previews the Arizona Cardinals
- Chip Kelly Made the Right Quarterback Decisions All Along
- The Linc - Are the Eagles Contenders?
- NFL Power Rankings 2013, Week 13: Eagles Compilation
- Eagles Injury Update: Everyone Except Earl Wolff is Healthy