LSU Football: Where Will Tyrann Mathieu End Up in This Year's NFL Draft?

Sean MerrimanCorrespondent IApril 26, 2013

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - FEBRUARY 26: Tyrann Mathieu of Louisiana State University looks on during the 2013 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 26, 2013 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

It's the glaring question on everyone's mind heading into this year's NFL draft.

Who will take a risk and draft former LSU standout and Heisman Trophy candidate Tyrann Mathieu?

In fact, it could be argued that there's never been this type of hype surrounding a player not projected as a first-round draft pick.

So, we ask, why all the hype?

Well for starters, it is no secret that Mathieu is one of the most talented players in this year's draft class. He served as a nickelback during his freshman season, Mathieu went on to have one of the most storied seasons in LSU football history during his sophomore campaign.

In addition to being a Heisman Trophy finalist in 2011, Mathieu was also named the Bednarik Award winner, a first-team All-American defensive back, a first-team All-American as a return specialist and the SEC Defensive Player of the Year.

Mathieu, or "the Honey Badger," as he was called during his time at LSU, was obviously one of the most decorated players over the past decade in college football. And then, it all came crashing down.

Mathieu was dismissed from the team before the start of the 2012 season for team violations and multiple instances of substance abuse. He spent the year working on improving himself and his image, and now, one year later, is ready to pursue his dream of playing in the NFL.

The talent is certainly there, but the off-the-field issues are a major concern for Mathieu, which is why he has seen his name thrown all across the board when it comes to NFL mock drafts.

Some NFL teams may weigh the positives over the negatives, when in reality, how Mathieu is going to respond in the NFL remains to be seen.

According to a recent CBS New York report, Mathieu told the publication that he "expects to go in the first round."

When asked if he felt like he could replace the recently departed Darrelle Revis in New York, Mathieu responded, "I feel like I'm the guy to do it."

It's pretty obvious that Mathieu dosen't lack self confidence, that's for sure. But where he ends up in this week's NFL draft is really anyone's guess at this point.

Would it be shocking if Mathieu heard his name called in the second round? Yes, no doubt about it. But is it out of the question?

Absolutely not.

In this day and age, the vertical passing game is becoming more and more prevalent in the NFL, which means that teams are searching for any playmaking defensive backs to help put a stop to these explosive passing games.

Not to mention, Mathieu is also an exceptional return specialist, a spot where he could make an instant impact for any NFL team.

Just like it is for the fans, the NFL draft is a waiting game for the players involved as well. It’s 364 days of predicting, and one day of asking yourself how Todd McShay and Mel Kiper Jr. can be so wrong with their predictions, but still be in charge of this job year-in and year-out.

It's unpredictable...just like Mathieu himself.