Few players in this draft have gotten more mainstream exposure than Tyrann Mathieu. His feisty play has earned him the moniker "Honey Badger," while his off-the-field exploits have earned him plenty of headlines and negative press.
The tenacious defender seems dedicated to rebuilding his image off the field while finding success on it. He's currently a mid-round prospect, but expectations for him are high.
Let's get a better look at the controversial prospect.
Date of Birth: May 13, 1992
Hometown: New Orleans, LA
High School: New Orleans St. Augustine
Major: Sport Administration
Though technically a junior, Mathieu only played two seasons at LSU thanks to his dismissal from the team. Mathieu was born and raised in Louisiana and can now look forward to making a move to the NFL.
The one thing that stands out about Mathieu is his ability to create turnovers. He accounted for 21 turnovers in just two years at Baton Rouge, demonstrating an innate knack for forcing fumbles.
He is also a tackling machine, with 133 tackles in his two seasons. Statistically, Mathieu is about as good as it gets. The only thing missing is an obscene amount of interceptions.
Otherwise, his numbers are comparable to those of any corner in the nation.
All statistics courtesy of Sports-reference.com.
Weight: 186 lbs
Arm Length: 31.125"
Hand Size: 9.375"
40-Yard Dash: 4.50
Bench Press: 4 reps
Broad Jump: 117"
Vertical Jump: 34"
Three-Cone Drill: 6.87
20-yard Shuttle: 4.14
Mathieu had a mixed bag of a combine. He ran fairly well, as his 4.5 40-yard dash was about what was expected. The low point was definitely Mathieu's bench press, though. Four reps is completely inexcusable, especially considering that Mathieu had a whole year to work purely on his athleticism off the field.
That could be a red flag to teams who value work ethic.
Measurements and combine results courtesy of NFL.com.
Mathieu plays like a one-man wrecking crew, but he was actually raised in a large household with four siblings.
Mathieu didn't exactly come out of nowhere, but he wasn't a 5-star recruit. He was the fifth-ranked recruit from the state of Louisiana and the 13th-ranked cornerback (per Rivals.com).
His pre-college career was still successful, though, as he represented the United States in the inaugural Team USA vs. the World game.
On one hand, Mathieu is an electric playmaker and a high-energy difference-maker. On the other hand, he can be targeted by bigger receivers and is overaggressive.
There is no doubt that Mathieu was the biggest difference-maker among cornerbacks in 2011, but he was just as certainly not the best cover man. He's aggressive to a fault and is beaten by smart receivers and quarterbacks on a regular basis.
Rob Rang of CBS Sports validates this line of thinking:
Is a tenacious defender with strong, active hands to rip the ball away. Excellent ball skills. Minimizes his natural height disadvantage by timing his leap well in jump-ball situations and competing throughout the catch process, ripping away at the ball as he and the intended receiver are descending... Possesses the suddenness to make up for a miss-step but does not have the elite straight-line speed to recover against a well-executed double-move and accurate pass. Trusts his instincts too much and can put his teammates in difficult positions by drifting to where he anticipates the quarterback will be going with the football.
Nolan Nawrocki of Pro Football Weekly summarizes Mathieu well:
A high-risk, high-reward wild card, Mathieu is a talented, cocksure slot defender and instinctive ballhawk capable of infusing a secondary with swagger and playmaking ability.