Washington Redskins: Why They Should Take a Chance and Draft Tyrann Mathieu

Dilan AmesCorrespondent IApril 8, 2013

Tyrann Mathieu after LSU's SEC title game victory.
Tyrann Mathieu after LSU's SEC title game victory.Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

When it comes to Tyrann Mathieu’s football career, there has certainly been some twists and turns. 

Although he has a troubled past off the field, his play on the field speaks volumes. Following a strong combine performance and pro day, Mathieu has seen his stock steadily rise as we near the NFL Draft

While many franchises will be shying away from the former star come draft day, the Washington Redskins are a team that needs to take a good, hard look at the Honey Badger. 

When it comes to talent, Mathieu is definitely rich in ability and potential. He fills a need, too. As the days go by without a signing of targeted free agent Antoine Winfield, it is becoming more and more clear that Washington will have to address the need through the draft. 

Their first pick comes at 51st overall, and they will likely target a corner or safety at that spot, just not Mathieu. But, in the later rounds, he could be an absolute steal. 

The situation Mathieu would be coming into is definitely a favorable one for both sides, especially given the leadership on the Redskins’ defense. If they were to draft Mathieu, he would have several veteran defenders to look up to such as London Fletcher and Brian Orakpo. Even DeAngelo Hall, who has had his issues in the past, could be a positive influence on the young corner. 

While many may disagree with this pick if the Redskins do in fact choose the former Heisman finalist, you have to look at the big picture. Before his off-field issues and consequent dismissal from LSU’s squad, he was one of the best prospects in the country, a likely top-10 pick at one point. 

Of course they should be wary of his past struggles, but they are accustomed to straightening up players with off-field problems–just look at guys like Trent Williams and and Fred Davis

When the Redskins pick in the third and fourth rounds, there is a good chance that Mathieu will be there. If he is in fact still available, it is imperative that they pull the trigger. Looking at his game tape, he plays a lot bigger than he actually is.

At 5’9”, 186 pounds he is the average size for a corner, but can cover much bigger receivers with relative ease. He played in the SEC, so you know he is used to facing the top talent from all over the country.  

Here’s the kicker–he’s a dangerous return man. Although he runs a pretty quality 4.51 40-yard dash, he has an even faster game speed. With the departure of Brandon Banks and a bunch of unproven young guys as potential starting kick returners, Mathieu could be an extremely valuable asset on special teams. 

The former Chuck Bednarik award winner has all the potential in the world, and could be a great fit in Jim Haslett’s defense; he could easily be the steal of this year’s draft.

It’s not like the Redskins haven’t expressed interest either–they spoke with Mathieu during Senior Bowl week in January (per Ben Violin, Palm Beach Post) and later interviewed him the Saturday before the combine (per Mike Jones, Washington Post). 

When comparing the pros and cons of drafting Mathieu, it is no contest. If he does pan out, you have a very talented starter for years to come and for a cheap price. If the Mathieu project does not work out, then you won’t have lost anything more than a mid-round pick.