The Arizona Cardinals’ 5 Most Intriguing Players of 2014

The Arizona Cardinals' 5 Most Intriguing Players of 2014

Arizona Cardinals
Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

Despite missing the playoffs, the Arizona Cardinals put together a very good 2013 season. The team finished 10-6 under first-year head coach Bruce Arians and finished in the top half of the league in total offense and defense. Arizona will look to build on its success from a year ago in 2014. The Cardinals' roster has a great deal of talent, but these five players will be the most intriguing to watch next season.

5. Jared Veldheer, OT

Jared Veldheer, Arizona Cardinals
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

5. Jared Veldheer, OT

Jared Veldheer, Arizona Cardinals
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Arizona signed free agent left tackle Jared Veldheer to a five-year contract during the offseason. The Cardinals hope Veldheer can recover from a triceps injury that cost him most of last season and be their franchise left tackle for years to come. In a division filled with excellent pass-rushers, Veldheer's ability to protect quarterback Carson Palmer will be crucial to Arizona's success.

4. Jonathan Cooper, OG

Jonathan Cooper, Arizona Cardinals
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

4. Jonathan Cooper, OG

Jonathan Cooper, Arizona Cardinals
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Jonathan Cooper is another lineman who will be intriguing to watch this season. The Cardinals used the seventh-overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft on Cooper. Unfortunately, he broke his leg during a preseason game and missed his entire rookie season. If Cooper can stay healthy, he will drastically improve the Cardinals' offensive line.

3. Deone Bucannon, SS

Deone Bucannon, Arizona Cardinals
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

3. Deone Bucannon, SS

Deone Bucannon, Arizona Cardinals
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Deone Bucannon was projected to be a second- or third-round pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. Instead, the Cardinals drafted the Washington State safety in the first round. Bucannon has a chance to start his rookie season if he plays with the same intensity and physicality he did in college. He could be a key component of the Cardinals' secondary.

2. Andre Ellington, RB

Andre Ellington, Arizona Cardinals
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

2. Andre Ellington, RB

Andre Ellington, Arizona Cardinals
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Andre Ellington performed surprisingly well for the Cardinals as a rookie. He rushed for 652 yards while averaging 5.5 yards per carry. Ellington also impacted games as a receiver, catching 39 passes for nearly 400 yards. Ellington will begin the season as Arizona's starting running back. It will be interesting to see how he adjusts to having a bigger workload in 2014.

1. Tyrann Mathieu, FS

Tyrann Mathieu, Arizona Cardinals
Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

1. Tyrann Mathieu, FS

Tyrann Mathieu, Arizona Cardinals
Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Tyrann Mathieu had a fantastic rookie season for Arizona before suffering a knee injury towards the end of the year. When healthy, Mathieu flew around the field wreaking havoc just as he had done at LSU. The Cardinals are hopeful the second-year pro will be ready for the start of the season. If so, Mathieu has a chance to become one of the NFL's best defensive backs in 2014.

 

Kevin Major is a Miami Heat writer for Rantsports.com. Follow him on Twitter @KevinMajor_Rant, “Like” him on Facebook and add him to your network on Google


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