In 2011, the Arizona Cardinals made a big turnaround, starting 1-6 and rallying to finish 8-8. They even had a shot of making the playoffs late in the season. Their performance was led by four players in particular. Larry Fitzgerald, Calais Campbell, Adrian Wilson and Darnell Dockett are the unquestioned leaders on the team. They also are among the NFL's top 100 players in the league, according to CBS Sports writer Pete Prisco.
As you can imagine, Larry Fitzgerald was atop the list of the Cardinals.
After being rated 18th a year ago, Fitz finds himself now at number nine. Wrote Prisco:
He once again put up big numbers, despite little help on the other side and so-so quarterback play.
Defensive end Calais Campbell, now with a bright and shiny new contract, comes in at 58 after not making the list a year go.
The Cardinals rewarded him with a big contract last week for a reason. He was their best defensive player last season.
Safety Adrian Wilson, playing all season with a torn biceps muscle, fell from a season ago despite having one of his finest seasons. He was 44th in 2011, but 70th now.
He's been one of my favorites for a long time and bounced back from a subpar 2010 season to play at his usual high level. The amazing thing is he did it with a torn biceps tendon. Wow.
Darnell Dockett also fell from a season ago. He was 73rd, but now is 92nd.
He wasn't as good as Campbell last season, but he's still one of the better down lineman in the league. Dockett plays with a nasty streak.
In this, Prisco will find some criticism. Dockett did not have the stats that Campbell had, but Campbell got his in part because of the attention that Dockett got from offensive linemen. Schematically, Dockett was asked to do more containment, rather than get to the quarterback.
As for the validity of the rankings, they could go a few numbers up or down. These are certainly the four players on the team that should have been there.
You can talk more Cardinals over at Revenge of the Birds.
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