Tyrann Mathieu Thinks he can Cover Calvin Johnson, is Honey Badger crazy?

By Chris Katje
Derrick Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Former LSU defensive back Tyrann Mathieu has had his share of controversy. The former SEC Defensive Player of the Year was suspended last season for drug related issues by LSU and missed the entire season. Mathieu has had several off-field issues and remains a polarizing figure. Comments made by Mathieu after the NFL Scouting Combine won’t help any.

In an interview with former defensive back Deion Sanders, Mathieu had this to say about his small stature and being able to keep up with elite wide receivers, “I feel like if I was to check somebody like a Calvin Johnson, he’ll make his plays, but I’m definitely going to get mine, too. He’s going to catch his five balls, but I’m going to get my two turnovers, so we’ll be even.”

Mathieu gained the nickname “Honey Badger” for his small size and tenacious attitude. Does the 5’9” player who has missed an entire season of football really believe he could stop Megatron, the league’s current best wide receiver with a dominating 6’5” figure? Mathieu is likely counting on his athleticism and speed to offset his size, but I still think he’s a little off on being able to guard the game’s best.

Despite a 4.5 40 yard dash time at the combine, Mathieu is still not a great coverage cornerback, but will likely be taken as a slot corner or a safety by a NFL team. In the 2013 NFL Draft, Mathieu is currently projected to be a second or third round pick.

Earlier this season, I argued that the Detroit Lions should draft Mathieu if he is still around in the third round. The team will likely be playing it safe after recent off-field issues with several recent draft picks. However, the risk/reward ratio is too good for the Lions to pass up in the third round with Mathieu’s ability to play corner, safety and also return punts.

The Lions are in need of secondary as they have several key free agents that remain unsigned. The team will be relying heavily on young cornerbacks unless the team comes to terms with Drayton Florence or Chris Houston. At safety, the team still has not re-signed Ricardo Silva, Amari Spievey or Louis Delmas.

If the Lions were to draft Mathieu, he would have plenty of opportunities every day to prove he can guard Calvin one-on-one in practice.

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