The NFL Players Association often puts out a list of the top 50 players who sell the most merchandise; Larry Fitzgerald has been on that list multiple times. But the NFLPA also annually puts out a "Rising 50" ranking, which rates players based on last season's performance, fantasy popularity, demand from sponsors, and new faces in strong markets that would bode well for the future for those players.
The Cardinals have three players on the latest list, with a slight surprise as the highest ranked (No. 11 overall): Running back David Johnson.
It's not that Johnson shouldn't be that high. But safety Tyrann Mathieu is 14th and cornerback Patrick Peterson is 29th, which is the surprising part. Both those guys already have a high national profile, but it's Johnson that gets the nod over both.
The list is interesting to peruse. Rams running back Todd Gurley is top ranked; Washington QB Kirk Cousins and Seahawks RB Thomas Rawls round out the top three. There are plenty of rookies drafted last weekend on the list, and interestingly, 49ers QB Blaine Gabbert is actually on the list.
It is safe to say this: Johnson is poised for a big year in 2016, in how the Cardinals use him, in the numbers Johnson could potentially pile up after his excellent stretch as a starter late in his rookie season, and how his profile should grow in front of what should be one of the NFL's better teams. I am curious to see how Johnson might embrace such a rise. He's a pretty quiet guy and is about the last person that will be looking for the spotlight. Then again, the spotlight might come looking for him.