NEPD Editor: James Christensen
The Honey Badger. Tyrann Mathieu’s nickname helped earn him an invite to the Heisman Trophy ceremony, but also hinted at an underlying problem. He just didn’t care.
Does he care enough to get his house in order for the 2013 NFL Draft?
WHY THE PATRIOTS SHOULD STAY AWAY
There are lot of things to pick on with Mathieu – size, scheme, off the field problems, et cetera. I wouldn’t be surprised if ten or more teams took him completely off their draft boards for the 2013 NFL Draft.
Let’s get one thing straight – this is not another Janoris Jenkins situation. Jenkins has twice the coverage skills and speed profile of Mathieu, even though some might say their off-field issues are similar in gravity. Bottom line, Jenkins is the superior player at the NFL level.
Tyrann Mathieu is not a prototype cornerback in today’s NFL – a league that needs covets with size, speed and physicality. Measuring in at 5’9″ and only 180 pounds, you have to wonder whether he can last as an every down player with his physical style of play.
His long speed is also questionable – he will probably run in the low 4.5 range during the pre-draft process which might eliminate him from contention as an outside corner in some schemes.
That said, his main problems have come off the field. Our friends at BuffaloBillsDraft.com said it best:
Everything fell apart for him this offseason though as Mathieu was dismissed from LSU’s football team after failing multiple tests for drugs. Mathieu who didn’t have it easy growing up vowed to be better and to get himself on the right track. He took the entire year off from football and concentrated on school and getting his head straight.
For a while everything indicated that not only was Mathieu living up to his word but that he was flourishing with the changes in his life. There was talk that he would return to LSU in 2013 and resume his place as a terror on the LSU defense. Unfortunately on October 25th Mathieu was arrested along with three former LSU teammates on possession charges. This arrest likely ended any chance Mathieu had at returning to LSU next season and probably prompted his decision to forgo his eligibility and enter the 2013 NFL Draft.
NFL teams seem pretty tolerant of marijuana use, as long as the player is able to control it. I’m not sure that Mathieu can do that.
WHY THE PATRIOTS SHOULD TAKE A CHANCE\
Like Mathieu’s namesake the Honey Badger, Bill Belichick doesn’t care either. He doesn’t care what others think. He only cares about creating the best team in the league and winning championships.
Drafting Alfonzo Dennard and Aaron Hernandez, signing Randy Moss and Corey Dillon, trading for Aqib Talib – all decisions that (at least so far) look like great values.
While there are always going to be situations like Albert Haynesworth and Chad Ochocinco, the Patriots are relatively quick in jettisoning under-performing parts before they infect the entire system.
If Mathieu is picked up for a day three pick or as an undrafted free agent, what is the risk? The Patriots look like they will only need a few rookies to make the team next year anyway, as they are one of the youngest teams in the league, so missing a late-round pick wouldn’t set the team back.
The risk / reward calculation is one thing, but is he worth the pick as a player?
Watching the Patriots struggle to cover the slot over the last few years has been maddening for New England fans. That is Mathieu’s specialty, getting physical with receivers in small areas and making it difficult for them to gain a clean release.
Mathieu also excels at blitzing off the corner – Belichick has often sent Kyle Arrington on blitzes from the “star” position in the past – and creating turnovers.
Highlight reel punt returns and a knack for making tackles on special teams really help round out Mathieu’s game.
As much as the Patriots defense has thrived on winning the turnover battle and gaining field position (and points) with explosive returns, you’d think that Matt Patricia and company would find a way for him to contribute.
Day three pick? In a heartbeat.