NFL Draft 2013 Prospect Profile: Tyrann Mathieu, CB, LSU

Chris Graythen

The controversial defensive back known as the Honey Badger when he roamed Death Valley. Would he be a good pick for the Titans?

Before I did any indepth study on Mathieu, I was really high on him. I got to see all of LSU's home games in person in 2011 and also got to see him play against Oregon in Cowboy Stadium every time I watched, he would out do himself each game. It seemed like he would always make a big play when the team needed it most. Anyway, here we go.

Measurables:

  • Height: 5'9"
  • Weight: 175 lbs
  • 40 time: 4.51 seconds

Games Watched:

SEC Championship Game 2011 (LSU vs UGA)

BCS National Championship 2012 (LSU vs. Bama)

LSU vs. Arkansas 2011


LSU vs. Oregon 2011

LSU vs. West Virginia 2011

LSU vs. Tennessee and Florida 2011


Positives:

As a DB: Good open-field tackler, doesn't miss. Can go from sideline to sideline to make plays and tackle. He is very aggressive, bumps receivers off of their routes and disrupts timing. Extremely versatile. Plays every single position in the secondary and plays them all well. I might like him a bit more at FS, but can but not limited to covering the slot receivers of the NFL (Harvins, Welkers). Would rather see him used in a rover role like he was used at LSU. Great closing speed, as shown against Florida when tackling RBs in backfield.

Reads the QBs eyes exceptionally well and is at his best when the play is in front of him. Fluid hips, can redirect very well, also recovers well if he gets beat. Plays much bigger than his size indicates, takes down Lacy with ease, in the open field. Very good in run support as well, and takes good angles to the ball carrier. When he is in bump and run coverage, does very well against all sizes of wideouts, for example in national championship game, the one time he hits the TE right off the LOS, he ends up with a pass breakup. Always affects the play as a pass rusher, whether or not he gets a sack, he always disrupts the pocket/ QB. Better at rushing against a lineman than a RB, but if we are using Williams' complex blitzes more, the RB has to decide whether to take on Mathieu or a LB/DL and in that case its pick your poison, especially if its Zach Brown blitzing.

Uncanny ability to strip the ball, really really amazing ability here, he has a violent ripping motion that is very compact. Ability to make big plays at crucial parts in the game, whether it be a KR, FF, Sack, Int, etc.... After a turnover, he turns into an offensive weapon, almost Ed Reed-esque. Plays with and edge/swagger/mean streak. Lots of energy, almost palpable, seems to just love playing the game, every down is played like its his last. Feisty, much like Finnegan, jaws at others and under the opponents skin, i.e. Tennessee game, draws an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty after the receiver throws the ball at his face. Very good at coming over to help make a tackle, even if he's coming from the other side of the field from the CB spot. Diagnoses plays extremely well, must watch a lot of film, for example his int in the WVU game, was just him knowing exactly what was being run and then making a heck of a play. Much faster on field than his 40 time would indicate.

As a KR: Mathieu has simply incredible vision he can weave in and out of traffic with ease as shown in the UGA game. He is very shifty/quick, but also has great straight line speed. While he doesn't seem to know what a fair catch is, he seemingly always gets positive yards. Watch his returns against UGA. The 2nd one is more impressive and yet he doesn't return it for a touchdown, its spectacular because he makes 8 UGA players whiff.

Negatives:

Can occasionally get washed out of run plays by big linemen. Footwork needs some work, backpedal in particular. Its apparent against bigger wideouts, and needs to be corrected with coaching. Sometimes reads receiver instead of the QB and gets burned when he does that, does this when he gets beat off of LOS due to awful backpedaling footwork, seems to trip over himself. Can sometimes give up a few extra yards when going for a strip instead of tackle. The backpedal is horrid. If this gets fixed he'll become a much better player. Small, so can't match up with some of the bigger receivers in the next level. Some off the field issues, I think this is/will be corrected, but it shouldn't be overlooked.

Off field issues:

ESPN sums it up pretty well in this blurb:

Hard worker. Solid student. Seemingly endless amount of energy. Highly confident. Scouts will need to closely evaluate maturity level. Served a one-game suspension (Auburn) in 2011 for 'violating the team's drug policy'. In August of 2012, dismissed from team for violation of team policy (drug-related) and entered a drug rehab center in Houston. Maternal grandfather, Lorenzo Mathieu, helped raise him until he died of complications from a heart attack when Mathieu was 5. His biological mother, Tyra Mathieu has five children, and Tyrann was the only one she didn't raise, leaving him to live with a maternal uncle and aunt his adoptive parents (Tyrone and Sheila Mathieu) after his grandfather's death. His biological father, Darrin Hayes, is serving a life sentence in the Louisiana State Penitentiary for murder.

He seems to be very remorseful and I fully expect him to turn his off field life around.

Stats:

In two years, only 1 as a full time starter he had 133 tackles, 16 of those for a loss, 6 sacks, 4 Ints, 19 passes defended, and a whopping 11 forced fumbles. The FF stat is absolutely unbelievable. He also had 2 returns for TDs.

Conclusion:

What Mathieu lacks in size, he makes up for with stunning athletic ability and heart. In my opinion he was the best player on LSU's team in 2011, above Claiborne, Mingo, Montgomery, Reid, Minter, the whole lot. What LSU missed most this year was his timely playmaking. Tyrann will be a force in the NFL as a DB and as a KR. Getting turnovers is what he is best at, and that is always a welcome addition to any defense. The footwork, as I said before needs to be coached up for him, but otherwise I find him to be a really solid prospect. If he was 2 or 3 inches taller, we'd be talking about a first round (top 15) selection before the off field issues, which I believe are over. Mathieu is definitely worth our 3rd round pick if he's still there, and I would be elated if the Titans take him.

Tyrann Mathieu 2011 Highlight Reel

Other Scouting Reports:

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