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Carson Palmer compares Tyrann Mathieu to Troy Polamalu

New Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer bestows a huge compliment on Arizona's rookie defensive back. Whether it's slanted hyperbole remains to be seen.

Stacy Revere

Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer certainly knows enough about Steelers safety Troy Polamalu to render an opinion.

The pair roomed together while at USC in 2002, and were both first round draft picks the following year - Palmer No. 1 overall by the Cincinnati Bengals and Polamalu No. 16 overall by the Steelers.

Polamalu even flattened Palmer on an interception return in 2005.

His familiarity with Polamalu all these years excuses what seems like hyperbolic homerism with Palmer told Sports Illustrated's Peter King recenty Cardinals rookie defensive back Tyrann Mathieu reminds him of Polamalu.

"He reminds of Troy Polamalu with his closing speed,'' said Palmer. "He might not be the fastest guy out there, but he can change directions and get to the ball really fast, like Troy."

Certainly high praise for the controversial Mathieu, a third round selection by the Cardinals after he was thrown out of LSU for repeated failed drug tests and an arrest.

Mathieu, a cornerback in college, would be among the smallest safeties in the NFL in terms of height and weight. While very athletic, size appears to be a major factor in his ability to see the field. That athleticism, though, is what has brought him this far, and perhaps the Cardinals are looking to find a role for him in an emerging secondary.