Tyrann Mathieu Needs Strong Showing at LSU Pro Day to Improve Draft Stock

John RozumCorrespondent IMarch 27, 2013

August 7, 2012; Baton Rouge, LA, USA;  LSU Tigers cornerback Tyrann Mathieu (7) during LSU football media day at the Charles McClendon Practice Facility.  Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Tyrann Mathieu possesses Round 2 potential in the 2013 NFL Draft. He can solidify that position with one dominant display at LSU's pro day.

Continuing to display fluid hip motions between back pedals and breaking on the ball needed. Not so much anticipation, but instant reaction to quickly close the distance.

It's how playmakers are able to capitalize on turnover opportunities, which becomes a distinct competitive advantage in pro football. Given his size he won't be asked to play a lot of press coverage, so unveiling solid lateral movement and reliable hands is to Mathieu's favor.

We've already seen how well he can impact on the field, because 133 tackles, six sacks, four picks, 19 defended passes and 11 forced fumbles are the makings of a true playmaker. He also gained 429 yards on punt returns in 2011, two of which went for touchdowns.

Mathieu's efforts ultimately made him a Heisman Trophy finalist that season.

There is no doubt this defensive back possesses plenty of talent. However, a major concern came about prior to and throughout last season. According to Joe Schad of ESPN.com in November of 2012, Mathieu dealt with issues off the gridiron:

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.

Since then, Mathieu has clearly been on the correct path.

At the combine, Mathieu hit 4.5 seconds in the 40-yard dash, 4.14 seconds in the 20-yard shuttle and 6.87 seconds in the three-cone drill.

The quickness remains, and when combining that with consistent plays made on the field, Mathieu's instinctive talents are a competitive advantage. Although he was measured at 5'9", 186 pounds, his current potential sits as a nickel/dime back and/or safety.

His immediate impact will be expected to create turnovers, limit yards after the catch and help with perimeter run support. Depending on whether Mathieu lines up near the intermediate level or safety, though, his contributions will vary with the coverage look.

He's certainly capable of isolating man-to-man, as well as getting physical in zone. Mathieu's knack for finding the ball is better suited for safety, however, because it's a constricted limit of responsibilities by comparison.

A defense can simply let him read in Cover 1 or 3 and react accordingly. When needed, featuring Mathieu near the line or inside the box will help disguise the coverage and blitz packages.

Also, in an article by Jim Kleinpeter of the New Orleans Times-Picayune, coach Les Miles stated of Mathieu:

"Here's a guy who's worked awfully hard to be a part of us and is deserving to work out in a place where he participated in ball," Miles said last week.

"I talked to him. His traditions are here. I wouldn't want him to have to go someplace else. I'm satisfied he's taking positive steps toward his future."

Entering his pro day, Mathieu is a solid third-round selection, but if he continues to build from his combine mid/late Round 2 is a realistic possibility.