Tyrann Mathiue is looking to work his way into the NFL. Not too long ago, he would not have had to work very hard. Now?
It is a different story all together.
As a member of the LSU Tigers, Mathiue was the toast of the town. His face was all over ESPN and he was a sure to be a late first, early second rounder whenever he were to make the decision to enter the draft. The MVP of the 2011 SEC Championship was riding a wave of momentum, and it looked as though nothing could stop his meteoric rise to the top of football fame.
Except his flight was stopped, his course altered, and he will be the first to tell you, it was a detour brought about by his own choices.
Mathieu liked to smoke marijuana. He liked to smoke it a lot. After repeatedly failing his mandatory drug tests, Mathieu was dismissed from the LSU football team for violating team rules. A stint in rehab led to him attempting to comeback to play once again, supposedly a changed person, but his comeback was short lived when he was caught with several other LSU players and was arrested for possession of marijuana.
The drug, one usually associated with a recreational habit, had taken control of his life, and his choices were muddled because of it. His choice was to smoke weed, rather than to leave it alone and focus on football. This choice cost him the rest of his college career.
Now the 2011 Chuck Bednarik Award winner is looking to prove to NFL teams that he is truly a changed man, and that he can return to the ways that won him the honor of being named college football’s best defensive player of the year. And there are going to be teams that will listen to him.
The Miami Dolphins are among the teams who took the time to talk to Mathieu during the week leading up to the Senior Bowl. The Dolphins defense proved to be one of the better units against the run, but were incredibly weak in the defensive secondary and so one of their main focuses this draft will be to find players to plug some of the holes that haunted them all season.
Mathieu would not be the entire answer should Miami decide to take a chance on him. At 5’9” and 180, the player once known as the Honey Badger for his ferocious style and ability to battle larger players, would be more of a special teams and nickel packages type player. While this would not stop the bleeding in South Beach, it would be a start, and the undersized Mathieu has proven himself to be a tenacious fighter on the field, which is something the Dolphins desperately need.
The biggest question then comes to his track record of substance abuse. The fact that his drug of choice was marijuana and not some other, more dangerous, habit-forming drug should help to get teams to look past his indiscretions, and evaluate the player they would be receiving. If Mathieu were to fall into the later rounds, Miami may feel confident enough in their locker room to bring the young man in and let the veterans get him heading in the right direction. As it is, Tyrann is being counseled by another LSU great, Patrick Peterson of the Arizona Cardinals, and he is receiving daily mentoring from the New York Jets Darrelle Revis. The Dolphins may very well feel like the risk is worth the reward.
An interesting thought here is that the Dolphins own five picks in the first three rounds. At this point, it is unlikely anyone has Mathieu going as high as the third, but if Miami does well early on, look for them to secure the feisty corner back with that fifth pick.
If such a scenario plays out, the Dolphins may just get the steal of the draft, after all, Mathiue has already proven that the only thing that can truly stop the Honey Badger is the Honey Badger.
Jeff Everette is a Featured Columnist for RantSports.com, covering the NFL and NBA. Follow Jeff on twitter @jeverettesports, like his page on FaceBook, or add his Google + to your circles for all of his latest articles, thoughts, and rants.