We knew him as the “Honey Badger” a hard-hitting, electrifying defensive back for the LSU Tigers during the 2011 season. The last game he ever played would be in the 2011 BCS National Championship, only months later he was dismissed. Now a year later he is trying to erase the the honey badger name and the problems that came with it. He is doing whatever it takes to play in the NFL, this time as Tyrann Mathieu.
5′ 9″ 175 lbs.
One of my favorite things about Tyrann Mathieu is how much he relishes contact and being physical. He loves to come up at the line and just beat the receiver down and throw him out of the play. When Mathieu does come up to the line you can expect him to come angry, he attacks his opponent and uses his hands and upper body strength to wear him down and knock him off his route. When Mathieu attacks the ball carrier, he claws his way in to try to punch the ball out. Delivering hits like a boxer he will deliver shots to the ball as his teammates hold the guy up. He may lack size, but he more than makes up for it with his physical style of play.
Not only does Mathieu play a physical style of football, he also plays with a passion and love for the game. The second he walks on to the field he is ready for battle, like a gladiator willing to fight to the death. When he makes a big play he will let you know about it, and when his team needs that extra boost of motivation he provides them that. While you can question Mathieu’s size, the one thing you can’t question is his heart. Coaches want a player who will do anything to get better and whatever it takes to win, and that is exactly the player Tyrann Mathieu is.
Mathieu also excelled as a return man when he was at LSU, returning 2 punts for touchdowns in 2011. His vision and quick burst let him find holes and explode past the defense. Mathieu also returned 2 fumbles for a touchdown, displaying his skills as a playmaker on defense. While he may not have blazing speed, his ability to come off a corner blitz or take a punt back for a touchdown, show the type of playmaker he can be in the NFL.
While Tyrann Mathieu may have impressed some people at the NFL Combine, you can’t ignore that he hasn’t played contact football in over a year. Ever since he was dismissed by LSU he has gone back and forth between rehab and hitting the gym. Mathieu hasn’t strapped on shoulder pads to hit people, he has been a year away from working with a playbook and dealing with the grind of football season. When he is drafted and makes it to training camp it will be an even bigger challenge than it is for most players. He needs to get back in football shape, get his endurance up and at the same time learn an NFL playbook. Mathieu has a long road ahead of him and may not be ready as early as most rookies.
Another issue that you have to consider with Mathieu is his ability to find trouble off the field. LSU dismissed their star player after multiple failed drug tests among other issues. He admits that some of his issues were because of the “Honey Badger” and that side of him always wanting to go out and party, while Mathieu wanted to stay home. Even after he was dismissed and went to rehab, just a few months later he was arrested for marijuana possession. Mathieu may be clean now but NFL teams will have to do thorough background work and see what type of recovery he has made.
Finally, NFL teams will consider Mathieu’s size and how that will translate to playing corner at the next level. While Mathieu claims he can cover Calvin Johnson, that seems far fetched. Johnson is 8 inches taller and weighs 60 lb. more than Mathieu. I appreciate Mathieu’s confidence but I think he will struggle with tall receivers in the NFL.
In the right situation, Tyrann Mathieu could be a key contributor for a defense. Coming down on a blitz to get after the QB or breaking up a running play in the backfield, there will be a role for him. Mathieu also is a skilled return man, and could start for several teams in the NFL. However, the concerns about off the field issues, a year away from football and his height take his draft stock down into the bottom of the 4th Round.
Tyrann Mathieu Highlights