Mathieu named to All-Rookie team

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Even though his season was cut short by a serious knee injury, Arizona Cardinals safety Tyrann Mathieu is beginning to reap the benefits from a productive rookie campaign.

On Thursday, the Honey Badger was named to Mel Kiper Jr.'s All-Rookie team at safetyInsider.

“He could also qualify at cornerback, or nickelback, but I put him here based on how the Cardinals used him. Great season, injury aside,” Kiper wrote.

He finished second on the team with 65 solo tackles, and had two interceptions, one sack and one forced fumble despite playing in just 13 games and starting in 11.

Mathieu said throughout the year that winning individual awards were important to show critics how far he’s come since dropping to the third round of the 2013 NFL draft, when he thought he may not get drafted. He would’ve had an outside shot at defensive rookie of the year had he not torn his ACL and LCL against the St. Louis Rams on Dec. 8.

In Kiper’s list of the top 30 rookies this season, Mathieu was ranked 12th while teammate Andre Ellington was 22nd, although the running back didn’t make Kiper’s All-Rookie team. All Ellington did was lead the NFL is yards per rush with 5.53. He finished with 652 rushing yards on 118 carries, and four touchdowns -- three rushing and one receiving.