One of those meetings with a prospective professional suitor yielded a shocking admission from Mathieu. An NFL assistant coach, who spoke to USA Today on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to comment about the evaluation, told Bell that Mathieu was asked how many drug tests he had failed in college. Mathieu's response was, "I quit counting at 10. I really don't know."
UPDATE: Friday, April 12 at 4:37 p.m. ET by Kyle Vassalo
In the meantime, Jim Kleinpeter of Nola.com provides this statement from Mathieu, criticizing USA Today for reporting such privileged medical information:
It is irresponsible and shows a lack of integrity for anyone to disclose medical information regardless of how it was gathered. I would expect that conversations regarding my drug testing history during the course of my medical treatment would be private.
LSU has a strong drug testing program and LSU went to great lengths to help me in my treatment and recovery. I understand that many people enjoy reading about the negative side of sports, but to publish those second-hand comments without being given a chance to address that comment prior to the publication of the article is irresponsible.
---End of Update---
That frequent use of marijuana ultimately led to his dismissal from Les Miles' powerhouse program, but the specifics weren't public knowledge until now.
The 20-year-old Mathieu has been out of football for an entire year and is a polarizing prospect due to his off-field issues and obvious talent between the white lines.
At just 5'9" and 186 pounds, Mathieu doesn't possess ideal size for a top-flight cornerback.
However, he did line up on the outside, in the slot and even at safety for the Tigers, as Mike Mayock of NFL Network points out. That type of versatility and aptitude for multiple positions should help make up for any slightness in stature.
Bell's report confirms that Mathieu has impressed those who have interviewed him with his football smarts, and his natural instincts have always been a source of buzz for scouts.
The assistant coach who informed Bell of the gravity of Mathieu's situation at LSU blames the school for having relatively poor oversight over his situation.
Mathieu should fall somewhere within the second or third rounds, depending on how willing teams are to take a risk on a player with such a history of drug use. It will be interesting to see how Mathieu's game translates to the pros, and how the heightened attention will affect his behavior.