LSU Football 2013 NFL Draft Profiles: Tyrann Mathieu

Kevin C. Cox

So, here's a news-maker...

Position: Def. Back/Punt Returner
Combine Height/Weight: 5-9, 186 pounds
LSU Listed Height/Weight: 5-9, 175 pounds
Hand Size: 9 3/8 inches
Arm Length: 31 1/8 inches
40-Yard Dash Time: 4.50
Bench-Press Reps (of 225 pounds): 4
Vertical Jump: 34 inches
Broad Jump: 117 inches
3-Cone Drill: 6.87
20-Yard Shuttle: 4.14

Strengths

Simply put, a dynamic playmaker...intensely aggressive and incredibly instinctive on the field...reads and reacts quickly with very fast reflexes, and is always around the ball versus the run and pass...outstanding hand-eye coordination for playing the ball in the air, with hand strength for ripping it loose from ball-carriers...plays like a much larger player, willing to lower his shoulder and deliver big hits in the running game, and willing to get in the face of receivers at the line of scrimmage...an eager player, willing to contribute in multiple ways on the field, including as a special teams gunner...tremendous footwork and agility in coverage...also a very instinctive blitzer that understands body lean and how to attack blockers...elusive punt returner with good vision...set a tone in the locker room and on the field -- was a player that teammates fed off of.

Weaknesses

Discipline issues are well-known: failed multiple drug tests that led to suspensions and ultimately, his removal from the LSU football team...lacks ideal height for a true corner, and was at his best in will slot or other positions rather than outside...can get frustrated by larger receivers, and outmuscled...can play recklessly at times, and will take unnecessary risks or sacrifice fundamentals to try and make a play...can get frustrated, and will act out if provoked.

Verdict

Mathieu has the widest range of any former Tiger in this draft. Some teams look at what he did on the field, and some will only see what he can't do, and that's not even taking his discipline issues into account. But while he may never be one of the top two corners on a team, Mathieu is a versatile weapon that can fit as a slot corner or even safety. His versatility more than makes up for his lack of size. A creative defensive coach could find multiple roles for him with his talents for attacking the backfield and playing the ball. And of course, he's an immediate upgrade to any team's special teams right away as a punt returner and gunner. There's no doubt that he struggled with his collegiate fame, but he appears to be a coachable player that wants to make up for his mistakes, and is willing to work hard. A fresh start away from some of the negative influences that followed him from New Orleans could go a long way, especially with as strong veteran locker room that could help mentor.

Reports indicate that there's a wide range on Mathieu's perceived value, but it's a safe bet he comes off the board somewhere in the third or fourth round. As for the reports of his interview statements from last Friday, to me, they scream pre-draft maneuvering, like from a team hoping that he actually makes it to the third or fourth round. They should have been dismissed far easier than they were.






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