With the draft only a week away from today, this will be my last draft prospect preview for the year. I will be posting some more draft stuff ahead like a mock draft for the first round and other draft topics. Until then though I’ll give you a draft prospect preview to cap it off, and who better to end it with than Tyrann Mathieu, former defensive back for the LSU Tigers.
Playing down on the Bayou in “Death Valley”, Tryann Mathieu could be described in one word; playmaker. That is what he was, game after game in the biggest and baddest conference, making plays all over the field and making it look so easy. Now, since then he has been kicked off the team and out of LSU for his consistent positive drug tests and hasn’t played in a college football game since the 2011 season. Which leaves him to be described by most people in two words now; trouble maker. He will certainly be looking to redeem himself when he gets his chance in the NFL.
At LSU, Tryann Mathieu, formerly known as the “The Honey Badger”, could be rountinely seen on Sportscenter making highlight after highlight with his big play ability. His nose for the football and ability to cause turnovers made him a deadly weapon on LSU’s defense. He would only play two seasons at LSU before being kicked off the team due to failed drug tests.
In his two years he accumulated 4 career interceptions and 11 career forced fumbles, the forced fumbles became something he was known for. He was also well known for his fantastic punt return ability because any time he touched it he could take it to the house. Not a big guy, but quick and very elusive to make guys miss and look silly trying to tackle him. He would finish with 2 career punt return touchdowns and loads of yards. He would be a Heisman finalist in his sophomore season, being his peak in his career to this point.
A small defensive back at 5’9″ 186 lbs., Mathieu was invited to the NFL Combine where he displayed average speed running a 4.50 40 and not much strength only benching 225 lbs. 4 times. This was the alarming thing of the combine for him but he still had an overall solid combine in most scouts’ opinions. He also had a 34 inch vertical jump and a 117 inch broad jump. For someone that has been out of football for a year and in drug rehab, he certainly did well I think.
He is not the fastest guy out there but Mathieu is extremely quick and has great ball skills. His weakness is in man to man coverage but when the ball is in his area, he can make a play on it. He lacks in overall physical strength but did show time after time in college that he can break down and make a good form tackle. A guy that plays with a lot of emotion and sure will to do better than his opponent, Mathieu has that aura about him that he is just better than everyone else, not a bad quality for a defensive back, they kind of have to think like that to have a chance at being successful. His return ability makes him extra valuable because he proved time after time that he can be a dangerous return man, not to mention he could be a really good special teams player getting down the field and being the first to make the tackle. His main issues come with his character and his off the field struggles. He has to get these under control if he wants to have any chance in the NFL.
I would project Mathieu to go in the mid to late 5th round simply because teams are going to stay away from the possible headache that he can be and because he is not that great in man to man coverage. He does have excellent talent and intangibles and proved he can play at the highest level by thriving in the best conference in college football. If he can get his ship sailing straight, he could turn out good for someone. He could easily come in and play nickel corner right away and contribute on special teams right away as well. He has shown the ability to be great, now we’ll get to see if he can get to that potential, but he has to stay out of trouble to do that.