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While he won’t be draft eligible for one more season, LSU cornerback and Heisman Trophy finalist Tyrann Mathieu may have been the biggest faller after Monday’s contest.
All season, Mathieu has been a highlight-reel mainstay, and for good reason. From the forced fumbles to electric punt returns, Mathieu has made some incredible plays and has been one of the most exciting players to watch in years.
The honeymoon had to end, though, and Monday showed the real player that Mathieu is.
Listed at 5'9"/175, the “Honey Badger” is not a big guy and has excelled this season solely on athleticism and willingness to make gambles.
On Monday, Alabama’s offense took him out of the game by forcing him to play his position and not this hybrid ballhawking blitzer that we’ve seen. Numerous times throughout the game, Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron put Mathieu out on an island in one-to-one coverage and had no problem passing all over him. When matched up against bigger wideouts, Mathieu struggled to bring them down and looked nothing like the playmaker we saw all season.
Without question, Mathieu is still a tremendously gifted athlete and will be one of the NFL’s most dynamic playmakers the second he joins the league. After Monday, though, I really question whether he can be a fraction of the player LSU alum Patrick Peterson was this season for the Arizona Cardinals.
2013 Draft Projection: Late First Round