There is no questioning Tyrann Mathieu was a standout football player during his time at LSU. As one-time projected possible No. 1 overall draft pick, off-the-field issues clouded his collegiate success. After numerous arrests, Mathieu was dismissed from LSU and all but said goodbye to his chance at an NFL career. However, Mathieu began his chance at redemption during the NFL Combine and performed well above many people's expectations. How does the "Honey Badgers" draft stock look now?
If Mathieu did not perform well at the combine, his NFL hopes would be gone. He had to capitalize on the opportunity in order to be taken serious by teams. His first start at this football comeback began nicely in Indianapolis. His workouts could not have gone better. Mathieu first impressed at the 40-yard dash, posting a solid 4.5, putting him close to the top of the cornerback pack. He looked very agile during cone drills. He ran well in space and backpedaled during coverage drills with smoothness. He came in a little undersized, but appeared fit and in football shape.
"I feel like it has gone good. Everything I have worked for the past two months. To come out here and put it together, be on a football field, I am extremely blessed," Mathieu said.
His off-the-field baggage is what becomes the real issue for Mathieu. Even though he performed well on the field and claims to be over his past, teams must be ready to take the risk and trust that Mathieu has moved on. The potential to be heavily rewarded is there, but the amount is unknown.
Mathieu has the ball skills and size to line up across from some of the NFL's biggest playmakers in slot position, but with teams moving towards using larger tight ends, he may struggle due to his size. He proved his athleticism playing against some of the best players in the SEC, but struggled in big games. He is the kind of player that can play multiple defensive schemes that could benefit a team like Minnesota or Dallas who employee those principals.
If a team is going to draft Mathieu, they most be convinced he can immediately contribute. After sitting out of football for a year, can he play a role on special teams or a return coverage unit right away? They also must be convinced that Mathieu can keep his hands clean of trouble. Many players say what is in the past will stay in the past, but that does not alway end up ringing true.
Draft experts have Mathieu being taken in the third to fifth round, depending on how many cornerbacks are drafted early. Many expect that there will be a team that decides to take a risk on him, despite his known baggage.