For some players, pro days are little more than a formality, one last chance to don their college colors and show off their skills for NFL suitors in a controlled environment before April's draft.
For others, however, pro days can take on quite a bit more significance, and after a lost 2012 season. Such was the case with LSU cornerback Tyrann Mathieu.
However, draftniks and scouts who were hoping to see more of the "Honey Badger," who was kicked off the team at LSU after a series of failed drug tests and off-field incidents, at the Tigers' Wednesday pro day were left somewhat disappointed.
Mike Triplett @MikeTriplett
Neither Barkevious Mingo nor Tyrann Mathieu running the 40 today at #LSU pro day. They were impressive enough at combine.3/27/2013, 6:12:32 PM
Essentially, Mathieu felt that his numbers from February's NFL Scouting Combine were good enough that it didn't help his cause to try to better them in Baton Rouge.
ESPN CollegeFootball @ESPNCFB
#LSUProDay on ESPN3 - @Mathieu_Era 2013 NFL Combine results: http://t.co/CnIJ5T16vM3/27/2013, 5:43:14 PM
That isn't to say that Mathieu just spent the day standing around, though.
New Orleans Saints @Saints
At #LSU Pro Day - Joe Vitt chatting with DB Tyrann Mathieu & DE Barkevious Mingo http://t.co/nZYmlQtY933/27/2013, 9:34:55 PM
OK, so maybe he sort of spent the day just standing around, but it was productive standing.
Joe Vitt and the Saints weren't the only team talking with Mathieu on Wednesday, and at least one more NFL team is reportedly bringing the 5'9", 186-pounder in for a private workout.
John McClain @McClain_on_NFL
Texans hosting FB Greg Jones today. I can confirm report they'll bring in Tyrann Mathieu at some point before draft.3/26/2013, 1:54:35 PM
And with good reason. Heading into the 2012 season. Mathieu was considered a potential Heisman Trophy favorite due to his playmaking ability, both on defense and in the return game.
Then Mathieu's affinity for marijuana became an issue, and his junior season ended before it began.
Mathieu's talent, combined with his checkered past, has left his draft stock very much in limbo.
On one hand, the NFL Network's Mike Mayock told Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk that the vibe he's getting is that Mathieu won't be drafted before the third round at the earliest.
“I don’t think he’s going to go in the first two rounds, that’s my gut, and from talking to teams, it’s kind of a third or fourth-round pick. That’s what I’m hearing,” Mayock said of Mathieu.
On the other hand, the opinion among many draft experts appears to be that Mathieu would be a bargain at that spot in the draft.
Bucky Brooks of NFL.com calls Mathieu "one of the most intriguing prospects in the 2013 NFL draft," and he feels that the former Bednarik Award winner as college football's top defensive player merits consideration in the second round.
He is an exceptional playmaker capable of making an impact as a defender and returner. However, character concerns and his diminutive stature will make it hard for a team to consider taking him at the top of the draft. I believe Mathieu is a second-round talent with the potential to develop into a Ronde Barber-like playmaker in the secondary.
Bleacher Report NFL Draft Lead Writer Sigmund Bloom also makes mention of Mathieu's diminutive frame in his scouting report, but Bloom also feels that the "aggressive, physical defensive back" could hear his name called in the second round of April's draft.
Sigmund Bloom @SigmundBloom
ICYMI: My Tyrann Mathieu scouting report: http://t.co/77mGL5I6l7 - just feels right for the #seahawks to take him in the late 2nd3/26/2013, 2:23:19 PM
The private workouts that take place between now and then could play a large role in whether it's Mayock or Brooks and Bloom that end up being correct.
Not only will those workouts give NFL teams one more chance to put Mathieu through the paces, but it will also give them a chance to once again grill Mathieu about his past missteps.
To his credit, Mathieu was frank about those mistakes at the combine, according to Don Banks of Sports Illustrated.
"I'm not totally asking them to trust me right now, but I am asking for them to give me an opportunity to play the game again, I've had a lot of time to reflect on it, especially without football. It's really given me a different outlook on life and really being the right kind of person. I hold myself accountable for everything I've done this past year. It's been tough, but at the end of the day, I want them to know I'm a football player. I want to be a great teammate, and I want to be the same leader on the field that I know I can be off the field.''
If Mathieu can continue to allay concerns about his past, then the NFL team that takes a chance on Mathieu may be getting one of the 2013 NFL draft's real bargains.
Because if Mathieu can keep his head on straight, the talented youngster certainly appears to have a very bright future.
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