NFL

Former LSU Star Tyrann Mathieu Officially Declares for NFL Draft

NEW ORLEANS, LA - JANUARY 09:  Tyrann Mathieu #7 of the Louisiana State University Tigers reacts after breaking up a play against the Alabama Crimson Tide during the 2012 Allstate BCS National Championship Game at Mercedes-Benz Superdome on January 9, 2012 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Chris Graythen/Getty Images
Adam WellsFeatured ColumnistNovember 29, 2012

Former LSU cornerback and 2011 Heisman Trophy finalist Tyrann Mathieu has declared for the 2013 NFL draft, according to Yahoo! Sports' Jason Cole:

Tyrann Mathieu has hired agent Pat Lawlor, who reps fellow former LSU standout Patrick Peterson. Lawlor confirmed Mathieu going pro.

— Jason Cole (@JasonColeYahoo) November 29, 2012

UPDATE: Friday, Nov. 30 at 9:05 a.m. ET by Tim Daniels

Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk discussed Mathieu's draft status with sources yesterday after it was announced the CB was looking toward the draft. The NFL insider states he came away with the feeling "Honey Badger" was headed toward the fourth round.

"One evaluator said that Mathieu was a better college player and hype machine than pro prospect. He projects to be a reserve defensive back and a kick returner at the next level, with his return skills being regarded as more valuable than his coverage skills."

It sounds about right given the amount of risk involved in taking a chance on him. He has the potential to make a major impact at the next level, but he lacks polish after missing the college season and will need time to develop.

---End of update---

Mathieu was one of the most popular players in all of college football during his two seasons at LSU. He was known for his coverage skills, as evidenced by his 19 passes defended and four interceptions, as well as his special teams play as a sophomore in 2011. 

In addition to his ability on the field, which landed him the 2011 Chuck Bednarik award as the best defensive player in the country, Mathieu also had one of the best nicknames in all of sports, affectionately known as "Honey Badger."

There were sky-high expectations for Mathieu coming into the 2012 season, but his off-field problems prevented him from ever having the chance to reach them. 

On August 10, LSU announced (via ESPN.com) that Mathieu had been kicked off the team for "repeated violations of LSU's substance abuse policy for athletes." He was suspended for one game in 2011 due to a failed drug test. 

While Mathieu was seeking counseling for his off-field problems, he was arrested on Oct. 25 for possession of marijuana, according to a report from Thayer Evans and Pete Thamel of Sports Illustrated

Mathieu declaring for the NFL draft makes sense from his perspective, because the longer he waits, the longer it will have been since he played in a football game, and his skills are going to need serious refinement. 

But given all the excess baggage that Mathieu brings, you have to wonder how much, if any, faith NFL teams will have in his ability to stay out of trouble and contribute in a meaningful way on the field.

 

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