The shocking announcement Friday afternoon that the LSU football team would dismiss its best player—defensive back and return man Tyrann Mathieu—left the college football world reeling. Mathieu was the best player on an LSU team that came up just shy of a national championship in 2011 and enters 2012 as the No. 1 team in the country.
While there are many great people covering what this means for LSU, what does this mean for Mathieu?
That's pretty accurate, as Mathieu defies conventional scouting measurements and ideals. He's not big, listed at just 5'9" and 175 lbs but thought to be much smaller, and he doesn't possess what you would expect to be a very low 40-yard dash time based on his short strides.
Mathieu isn't great in coverage, but he's solid on the inside and is someone who can rush the quarterback, drop into coverage and make punishing hits over the middle. He's also a relentless pursuer of the football and one of the best punt returners in the game.
Mathieu's play on the field was good enough that NFL teams would have overlooked or downplayed his previous failed drug tests if he could stay clean. A late first-round grade is where Mathieu was placed when evaluating the 2013 NFL draft class, and one NFL scout told me, "If Tim Tebow can go first round, Mathieu could go top-10."
The issue now is that Mathieu may not be able to play in 2012 based on NCAA bylaws on transferring while under a disciplinary action. Depending on which team rule Mathieu broke, he may be barred from moving to an FCS school like North Alabama, a move Janoris Jenkins made after being dismissed from Florida.
Many have compared Mathieu and Jenkins, and rightfully so, but Jenkins' play and image were not rehabilitated through the season; he made his impact at the Senior Bowl. That's a luxury Mathieu, a junior, would not be afforded.
It's also worth noting that Jenkins was drafted in the second round of the 2012 NFL draft because he has a lock-solid position and is a traditional cornerback. Mathieu isn't, and will never be, a traditional outside cornerback, and that will hurt his stock when the 2013 class rolls around.
The best-case scenario for Mathieu is that he is able to transfer to an FCS school where he can play and rehab his image while staying clean and out of trouble for the entire year. If that happens, Mathieu could push himself back into the late third-round or early fourth-round range when the 2013 draft rolls around.