Defensive back and special teams specialist Tyrann "Honey Badger" Mathieu was once one of, if not the, most electrifying players in Division 1 college football at LSU. However, his failed drug tests and pot-related arrests led to a monumental fall from grace and dismissal from the football program.
He has resurfaced at the combine, and impressed many there with his words. Speaking on his legal issues and consequent time away from the football field, Tyrann spoke about introspection and hopes of redemption with an NFL team:
"I hold myself accountable for everything I've done," he said on Sunday. "This past year has been tough, but at the end of the day, I want them to know I'm a football player. I'm not totally asking them to trust me right now. But what I am asking is for them to give me the opportunity to play the game again. I've had a lot of time to reflect on it, especially without football. It's really given me a different outlook on life." (Quote from YahooSports.com)
Mathieu in his prime with LSU in 2011
According to the same article, Mathieu worked with former NBA player and coach John Lucas to overcome addiction problems, and is currently working with Patrick Peterson and Corey Webster, both former LSU standouts and current NFL stars, to work towards a successful career as a pro.
Somewhat overshadowed by his off the field problems is how good Mathieu once was. Like Peterson, he was a Chuck Bednarik Award Winner, given to the best defensive football player in college football, following his unreal 2011 season at LSU (see highlights below). That would prove to be his finest moment and season at LSU, as he was dismissed from the program in August of 2012 for a failing a series of drug tests. He was arrested again for marijuana possession that fall. This, which Mathieu described as rock bottom, was followed by a stint in rehab during which he faced his demons head on.
"I thought [the] bottom was when I got kicked out of school. When I got arrested in October [for marijuana possession], that was a different bottom. So, I decided to go to rehab. I just wasn't going to it for publicity or because my school told me to go. I actually wanted to get my problem corrected."
Last year's draft had a number of troubled players who went on to have fantastic rookie years, most notably Janoris Jenkins of the Rams, Alfonzo Dennard with the Patriots, and linebacker Vontaze Burfict, who was signed as an undrafted free agent by Bengals despite once being considered one of his classes top linebackers.
All this being considered, it will be interesting to see who is willing to take a chance on Mathieu, and at what stage of the draft. The Patriots took Dennard in the 7th round, a move that paid off it the short term but is now looking like a situation that is taking a turn for the worst as the young corner is facing jail time. With an ailing secondary in need of playmakers, would they take a late-round handout this year on Mathieu? Some think he could go in the 4th round. I doubt the Pats would take him that early. But if he hangs around until the 5th, 6th, or 7th round? I think he would be worth the pick. He is an instinctive player with a nose for the ball and a knack for creating turnovers, and a rare special teams talent. Players like that are hard to come by.
What do you guys think? Should the Pats take a chance on the Honey Badger? Vote below, and let us know what you think in the comment section below or on Twitter: @PatriotsLife and @LiamPCunningham.