Tyrann Mathieu: 5 NFL Teams That Could Gamble on the Honey Badger in 2013 Draft
The Honey Badger was a Heisman Trophy candidate a season ago, but recurring off-field issues led to his dismissal from the Tiger program and ultimately got him expelled from the university.
After missing the entire 2012 season, let's take a look at five teams that could still take a chance on the super-skilled cornerback and return man in April.
With Leon Hall, Terence Newman, Reggie Nelson, Nate Clements, Adam Jones and 2012 draftee Dre Kirkpatrick, the Bengals don't necessarily have a pressing need in their secondary, but that doesn't mean they wouldn't roll the dice on Mathieu.
Cincinnati wasn't afraid to sign Arizona State linebacker Vontaze Burfict as an undrafted free agent this offseason, a guy with tremendous skill but a troubled past.
Currently, he has the second-most tackles on the team as the starting weak-side linebacker.
The team picked up Pacman Jones after repeated run-ins with the law, as well.
The former Tennessee Titan has been a valuable commodity this year.
With Newman and Clements in the twilight of their respective careers, there could be some shuffling in the Bengals' defensive backfield this offseason, thus making room for the dazzling LSU star.
After losing Cortland Finnegan in free agency, the Titans secondary hasn't been the same.
Only the Oakland Raiders allow a higher average QB rating than the 101.7 that Tennessee has given up this season.
Cornerback Jason McCourty signed a five-year, $43 million extension in late August (h/t Rotoworld), and although he hasn't been spectacular in 2012, he's the team's franchise defensive back.
Alterraun Verner is vastly underrated across from McCourty, but the team lacks talent on the inside, allowing many teams to spread out against the Titans and utilize smaller and more nimble receivers to get open.
Mathieu, at 5'9'', would ideally fit as a nickel corner at the next level. That's exactly why Mike Munchak and the Tennessee front office could take a long look at him in April.
The Ravens may come as a surprise as a team that could take a chance on Mathieu, but they actually would be a good fit for the immature yet talented defensive back.
Clearly, the LSU standout needs to develop in a strong, established and mature locker room as a professional.
With guys like Ray Lewis, Haloti Ngata, Terrell Suggs and Ed Reed, he'll get that in Baltimore.
Here's what Mathieu had to say regarding his future, according to ESPN's Joe Schad:
Tyrann Mathieu: "I am committed to tackling my personal issues and will work to better myself every day as a man first..."— Joe Schad (@schadjoe) November 29, 2012
Tyrann Mathieu: "...and only then as a football player. I will always consider myself an LSU Tiger."— Joe Schad (@schadjoe) November 29, 2012
Remember, the Ravens took a chance on intriguing Colorado cornerback Jimmy Smith in 2011 despite some off-field red flags.
There aren't many who question Mathieu's talent, and for a team that could use some secondary depth, the Ravens might take a shot on the Honey Badger.
The Lions, as a collective group of players, have dealt with plenty of off-field problems over the last year.
However, none of these problems have stopped guys from getting onto the field when suspensions have been lifted or after fines have been issued.
While some may not agree with the way Jim Schwartz has handled his team during his tenure in Detroit, if he's brought back in 2013—which seems likely—Mathieu is a legitimate possibility for the Lions.
Detroit is still visibly susceptible through the air and undoubtedly could use some depth in its secondary.
New England Patriots
To date, the Patriots have forced the second-most turnovers in the NFL (32) and have reeled in the fifth-most interceptions (14).
The turnovers have been integral to New England's current five-game winning streak and will likely lead to yet another AFC East division title.
With that being said, the Patriots have allowed 289 yards through the air and a 93.0 QB rating per game in 2012—numbers Bill Belichick would probably like to see go down.
We aren't sure about the long-term future of Aqib Talib in New England, but Patriots headquarters is certainly a place in which a childish yet talented player has a good chance to blossom into a star.
These clubs could realistically consider Mathieu, but didn't make the cut:
Oakland Raiders: Need drastic help in the secondary. Have traditionally held athleticism and speed in high regard.
Philadelphia Eagles: Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie will be a free agent.
Chicago Bears: Strong locker room atmosphere. Aging corners. Love ballhawks.
Atlanta Falcons: (See: Bears, Chicago)
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