As off-the-field headlines dominate the 2013 NFL Draft, perhaps no scandal has a bigger impact than LSU Football‘s decision to dismiss Tyrann Mathieu from the team, forcing the Honey Badger out of college football before he was ready. Sure, Manti Te’o had a fake girlfriend, but Mathieu’s controversy could actually affect his future team if his poor decisions continue to plague him professionally.
Tyrann Mathieu went from being one of the best cornerbacks in the country and a cornerstone of the LSU defense to a mid-to-late round draft pick with one failed drug test. After an impressive NFL combine, the man formerly known as the Honey Badger is back in the mix as one of the first cornerbacks taken in the draft. Is Mathieu a top-round draft selection despite his off-the-field issues and year removed from college football?
If a senior that graduated with a clean record on one of the top football programs in the country put together the accolades that Mathieu did with LSU, there would certainly be talk of a possible first or second round draft pick. A Heisman Trophy finalist, Mathieu capped off an outstanding year with the LSU Tigers as MVP of the SEC Championship Game in 2011. The Honey Badger had 77 tackles and minimized some of the biggest and best receivers in college football on his way to being named winner of the Chuck Bednarik Award for defensive player of the year.
Still, drug problems detract from Mathieu’s draft stock. During his impressive 2011 season, Mathieu was suspended one game for violating the school’s drug policy before he was ultimately kicked off the team before the 2012 season. He is going on two years removed from being an LSU standout, and he is forced to answer for his poor decision making away from the football field.
Beyond his drug problems, Mathieu is undersized. Though his nickname was afforded to him for his ability to tenaciously defend much taller receivers, the NFL could prove to be too physical for the 5’9”, 180-pound cornerback.
Still, why not take a chance on Tyrann Mathieu with a second-round draft pick? The team that takes this risk pulls in the former defensive player of the year, a Heisman finalist, an All-American, an MVP and an immediate contributor on special teams. It’s risky, but it could pay off in the end.