NFL coaches will soon learn that Tyrann Mathieu is a once-in-a-lifetime football player.
Put aside all of his off-field issues for just a second. Forget about the bad reputation that Mathieu has developed this past year. Instead, look directly at his skill set.
Despite being a noticeably undersized cornerback at the next level, Mathieu possesses the technique and raw natural ability to make plays around the football.
Heck, he was undersized at LSU, and in his sophomore season, he had a Heisman-worthy type season. It was a lot better than Manti Te'o's Heisman campaign last year, that's for sure.
Mathieu is an incredible player with abilities that you just can't teach. These are his incredible abilities that will surely wow coaches at the next level.
Mathieu is a fumble-causing machine.
It only took him two years to grab LSU's school record for most forced fumbles of all time. How many did he force in those two years? Mathieu forced a humble 11 fumbles.
That's right, 11. The 11 forced fumbles is tied for the seventh-highest total in NCAA history. Just think of how many forced fumbles he'd possess right now if he played his junior season.
Whoever decides to draft this guy is going to inherit a player who has knack to snatch the football away. That's never a bad thing.
Mathieu's punt return skills might be the best facet of his game.
Think about this for a second. Look at what Patrick Peterson did in the NFL as a punt returner with the Arizona Cardinals. He shattered the punt return record as a rookie.
Keeping that in mind, one could argue that Mathieu was a more spectacular punt returner at LSU. He not only made the shifty moves in open field, but he gave the entire team life when the offense was not moving the football.
As a sophomore in 2011, Mathieu ranked fourth nationally with a 15.6 yards per return and had two touchdowns. Tell me a special teams coach who wouldn't want that.
You can't teach instincts. You just can't.
You either have them or you don't, and it's glaringly obvious that Mathieu does. His forced fumbles, interceptions and breath-taking punt returns attest to it.
But it's not the flash that makes him the most instinctual player heading into the NFL draft. Rather, it's Mathieu's awareness and ability to always be around the ball that make him unique.
Mathieu is undersized. We all know that. But, hey, he was undersized against SEC competition too...
Ask any LSU fan what he or she missed most last year.
You'll get several different answers, but the answer that may come up the most would probably be Mathieu's blitz off of the edge. It was a game-changer for LSU.
Time and time again, defensive coordinator John Chavis would line up Mathieu on the outside and send him on a pass rush. More times than not, Mathieu got to the quarterback and caused a turnover.
The same can be done at the next level. Coaches can use Mathieu in special packages that allow him to get after the quarterback and create a turnover for their club.
Don't be fooled—"The Honey Badger" can be a leader on an NFL club.
Though it was done mostly through trash talking, Mathieu had a way to fire up his club and have it playing with a chip on its shoulder for four full quarters.
That swagger that Mathieu helped give his team was noticeably absent one year ago with him no longer an LSU Tiger. Mathieu had a way to identify with his teammates and get them fired up to play in big moments. LSU did it all season in 2011.
So maybe he has a bad reputation. The last time I checked Janoris Jenkins had a bad rep heading into the NFL draft last season, and he nearly won NFL Defensive Player of the Year.