Even though they have struggled over the past few weeks, the Arizona Cardinals are a team with some of the best young talent in football.
Out of 22 starters on offense and defense, 10 of them are 25 years old or under.
Arizona has a few players who are very underrated. They have a lot of great young players and are a good offseason or two away from being legitimate title contenders.
This Cardinals squad has several up and coming players. Over the next few slides we will take a look at five Arizona Cardinals that have an extremely bright future ahead of them.
The progression of linebacker Daryl Washington just goes to show you how good of a season you need to have to get any credit when playing in Arizona.
Washington went unnoticed in 2011 despite recording over 100 tackles and leading all inside linebackers in sacks.
In 2012 he is having a record setting season, but is still being overshadowed by players like Charles Tillman and JJ Watt.
The 26-year-old leads the league in solo tackles with 64 and his eight sacks put him sixth. He is on pace to break the NFL sack record by an inside linebacker. Charlie Clemons currently holds that record with 13.5 sacks back in 2001.
Washington has taken over as the leader of the Cardinals defense. He is locked up long term and will have a ton of success under Ray Horton.
This pick may surprise some people, but LaRod Stephens-Howling has a very bright future in the NFL. Whether it is with the Cardinals remains to be seen, but he will have a successful career.
At 25 years old, LSH still has a few good years ahead of him. He is a free agent at the end of the year and could move on to another team to play a similar role to that of Darren Sproles.
*Special teams play not included
Stephens-Howling has played in seven games this season. Through a full 16-game season, he would be at 647 total yards and six to seven touchdowns.
His numbers are virtually identically to Sproles’ and it is when, not if, he is given the opportunity to shine.
One of the biggest steals in the entire 2011 draft, fourth-round pick Sam Acho has been great for the Cardinals defense over the past year and a half.
Since joining the team, Acho has recorded 64 tackles, 10 sacks, five forced fumbles and an interception. He is one of the youngest players on the team and is improving every week.
Like Daryl Washington, Acho has a very bright future ahead of him and he will thrive under defensive coordinator Ray Horton.
The 24-year-old will also benefit greatly from playing behind Darnell Dockett, Calais Campbell and Dan Williams. These three draw a lot of attention from opposing offensive lines, giving players like Acho one-on-one opportunities.
Rookie first-round pick Michael Floyd started the year off slow and did not get much playing time. Some even went as far as calling him a bust. A few weeks later, however, those people are eating their words.
As Early Doucet continues to struggle, Floyd is getting more playing time and is making the most of it. 10 of his 18 catches have come in the past two games and those 10 receptions have totaled 116 yards.
The rookie has also been great in blocking situations, which is huge for a team that has its issues up front.
Floyd has already made a couple of acrobatic catches and has done well at getting open. He will have every opportunity to succeed in the NFL playing across from Larry Fitzgerald.
In just nine weeks, Patrick Peterson has gone from a special teams phenom to a legitimate No. 1 corner. He has yet to record a punt return touchdown, but is a threat to score every time he touches the ball.
On defense, the second-year man has three interceptions in just nine games, with two of those coming in his own end zone.
Peterson was clutch for Arizona in the return game during his rookie year and is now stepping up on the defensive side of the ball.
He still has some work to do, but at just 22 years old, Patrick Peterson has a very bright future ahead of him.