Prior to the 2013 NFL Scouting Combine Tyrann Mathieu was anywhere from a mid-round selection to potentially going undrafted.
Measuring at 5'9", 186 pounds, Mathieu needed to impress at the combine for a chance to increase his draft stock. After a decent performance in Indianapolis Mathieu also fared well in position drills, displaying solid lateral quickness, agility and maintaining speed when redirecting. If anything, that exposes reliable body control and balance to make plays in the secondary.
And although he managed just four reps on the bench press, Mathieu still clocked 4.50 seconds on the 40-yard dash, 4.14 seconds on the 20-yard shuttle and 6.87 seconds on the three-cone drill.
Not bad for a guy who missed an entire season.
Everyone knew the guy had immense talent, because his 2010 and 2011 seasons for Les Miles and the LSU Tigers were incredible. During this span Mathieu accounted for 133 tackles, six sacks, four interceptions, 19 defended passes and 11 forced fumbles.
Unfortunately, the subsequent year put questions on the table.
According to ESPN.com's Joe Schad last November:
Former LSU defensive back Tyrann Mathieu announced Thursday he is entering the next NFL draft.
Mathieu was arrested last month on a possession of marijuana charge. He also was dismissed from the football team in August for failing a drug test and entered a treatment program run by former NBA player John Lucas.
"I am committed to tackling my personal issues and will work to better myself every day as a man first and only then as a football player."
So, Mathieu had much proving to do on and off the field this draft process.
Without question he must get stronger to contribute at the cornerback position. The bigger and more powerful receivers won't get consistently jammed at the line of scrimmage until he bulks up, so anticipate Mathieu as a nickel/dime back early on.
His playmaking skills and instincts will also allow Mathieu the potential to earn time at safety. Whether it's rolling down in zone, blitzing off the edge or sitting back in Cover 1 or 3, Mathieu does possess the athleticism to make tackles and create turnovers.
It's getting off blocks and defending consistently against the run that will be the toughest challenge in transition to pro football. Factor in the windfall that occurs from playing in the NFL and off the field will test him as well.
On the bright side, Deion Sanders believes in him, which unquestionably is high praise.
Mesh all the elements of a great on-field career for the Bayou Bengals, a sound combine and earning some positive evaluations, and Mathieu has Round 2 potential.