The news that former LSU Tigers’ cornerback Tyrann Mathieu has declared himself eligible for the 2013 NFL draft garnered a lot of attention in NFL circles. Mathieu was dismissed from the Tigers this past August after failing multiple drug tests. His troubles continued with an October arrest for possessing drug paraphernalia in his apartment. He hasn’t played a down of organized collegiate football during the 2012 season, so there’s no telling what kind of football shape Mathieu is in.
Washington Redskins’ head coach Mike Shanahan has a reputation for acquiring quality character players. He could have acquired talented but aging wide receivers Randy Moss, Chad Johnson, Terrell Owens, or Plaxico Burress. However, they all come with different baggage. Instead, Shanahan decided to acquire Pierre Garcon and Josh Morgan to add depth to the Redskins’ roster. While Morgan had a mini meltdown Week Two against the St. Louis Rams, neither her nor Garcon are known for causing off field distractions.
Washington should make every effort to draft Mathieu, if he’s available. The Redskins’ secondary is in need of an overhaul. Starting cornerback DeAngelo Hall has made a few plays, but not nearly enough to make a difference. Opposite Hall in the starting lineup is cornerback Josh Wilson, who still can’t cover a table with a tablecloth, let alone an NFL wide receiver. Safety Brandon Meriweather is probably the best player in Washington’s secondary. However, he has played in only one game in 2012 due to injuries, which has severely limited how effective the secondary can be.
Mathieu is a proven playmaker at the cornerback position, evidenced by his 20 passes defensed, 11 forced fumbles, and four interceptions in his two years at LSU. At five foot nine, Mathieu doesn’t have the ideal size for an NFL cornerback. However, playmakers of his caliber are hard to come by. Besides, the Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants, and Philadelphia Eagles all feature premier wide receivers capable of big plays every time they catch the football. Washington’s 30th ranked pass defense reflects their need for a big play cornerback.
Although the Redskins have the need for Mathieu, it’s likely they won’t be able to draft him. First, he’s been out of football for a year, so there’s no telling how effective he would be as a football player at the highest level. In addition, Washington may not be able to draft Mathieu because they have a limited supply of draft picks in 2013. Washington doesn’t have a first round pick in 2013 because they traded it away for the right to draft quarterback Robert Griffin III. Washington will not select until pick 45 of the second round. By that time, Mathieu might be off the board.
That’s the price the Redskins must pay for years of bad personnel decisions. But if Mathieu is somehow still available, Washington needs to go ahead and select the man that could become a franchise cornerback. It would go a long way towards rebuilding their defense.