There seems to be one of these types of players every year in the NFL Draft. One that is talented, but has a myriad of off-field issues that both cause his stock to drop and seem to potentially overhype that player's talents. Last year it was Janoris Jenkins, and this year it's another defensive back formerly of the SEC who was kicked off of his team because of disciplinary issues--Tyrann Mathieu.
"The Honey Badger" has been on a path to rebuilding his reputation since being kicked off of the LSU Tigers and basically out of football since the conclusion of the 2011 season. After an impressive Combine in February, which also included a poor performance in the bench press, Mathieu continues to impress scouts with his performances. The latest example was at his Pro Day on Wednesday.
Mathieu continued his uphill climb by looking fluid and strong in position drill this week and his stock continues to seemingly be on the rise. Bucky Brooks of NFL.com said of the workout:
"He continues to build a case for being one of the most intriguing nickel corner prospects in the draft," NFL.com's Bucky Brooks said from Baton Rouge, La.
NFL executives told Brooks they love Mathieu's versatility, his ability to go inside and his kick-return skills.
"Somewhere in that second day -- maybe top of the third round," Brooks said, "is where Tyrann Mathieu is going to come off the board. I think people will look at the playmaking ability, the fact that he created so many turnovers, made so many big plays for LSU in 2011, that they're going to take a chance on him somewhere in the third round," Brooks said.
Recently, Brooks also says that he views Mathieu as a second round talent that should drop a round or two because of the character issues. Interestingly enough, when making his case for Mathieu's stock, Brooks tabbed the Bengals as one of three teams that would be a good fit for the youngster.
The fit could make sense, as there are indications that the Bengals are interested in the troubled defensive back. First, Mathieu tweeted about a special teams session with the team about a week ago. There was then a follow-up report that Mathieu visited the team on an official basis to confirm their interest.
"The Honey Badger" could fill a need at both cornerback and safety for the Bengals. The Bengals have some question marks behind Leon Hall and Adam Jones and while Mathieu didn't play safety at LSU and his size may not scream of a prototype at the position, his free-lancing playmaking ability could be used as a center fielder type for a club. One could envision him being used as Bob Sanders was in his heyday for the Colts, or as a smaller Troy Polamalu type. He also, of course, would provide great return ability as well.