Photo of Tyrann Mathieu
Grade
73.0 ?
  • 4.50 SEC
    Top Performer
  • 4 REPS
    Top Performer
  • 34.0 INCH
    Top Performer
  • 117.0 INCH
    Top Performer
  • 6.87 SEC
    Top Performer
  • 4.14 SEC
    Top Performer
  • 5'9" Height
  • 31 1/8" Arm Length
  • 186LBS. Weight
  • 9 3/8" Hands

Overview

Mathieu (like “Matthew”) earned the nickname “Honey Badger” during his time at LSU because his small stature and tenacious attitude are similar to the African animal carrying that name. That feisty attitude made Tyrann (Ty-run) one of the biggest playmakers in college football on defense. For his efforts, he garnered the 2011 Bednarik Award as the nation’s best defender, first-team All-SEC notice from league coaches and media, consensus All-American honors, and became the rare defender who became a finalist for the Heisman Trophy.



He was dismissed from the Tigers in August 2012 for multiple violations of team rules, however, and is now working through treatment for substance abuse in Houston while being mentored by former NBA player and drug rehab guru John Lucas. He did not play football in the 2012 season.



The New Orleans area native grew up living with his grandparents and then his aunt and uncle (who adopted him), as his mother was often absent and his father has been in jail throughout most of Mathieu’s life for robbery and then murder. His family was also uprooted due to Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Despite that rough beginning, he excelled enough in high school to get a scholarship offer from LSU, who overlooked his lack of size -– unlike many other regretful major programs.



Mathieu began showing his playmaking skills as a true freshman. He played in every game but only started one due to the team’s talent at that position (he played behind eventual top ten picks Morris Claiborne and Patrick Peterson), yet still ranked fourth on the team with 57 tackles (7.5 for loss) and intercepted two passes while breaking up seven more. He also ranked fifth in the nation with five forced fumbles and garnered the Cotton Bowl Most Outstanding Player for his work (INT, sack, two forced fumbles) in the win over Texas A&M.



The first thing NFL scouts see when they look at Mathieu is his size, or lack thereof. Sometimes physical attributes must be overlooked for players who can make something happen on defense while also turning the tide on special teams (fourth in the nation with 16.2 yards per punt returns in 2011, one of two scores coming in the SEC Championship Game). The issue for Mathieu is how much teams will be willing to believe his off the field troubles are in the past.

Analysis

Strengths

Fiesty turnover machine who lines up outside, in the slot and at safety when needed. Instinctual player with very good read-and-react ability, always seems to work his way into position to make a play on the ball. Does whatever it takes to make a stop, fights through blocks using hands and quickness, goes low or high and doesn’t let up after initial contact. Brings enough force despite his size to get ballcarriers off balance with a glancing blow. Constantly rips at the ball while making a tackle or when others have secured the stop. Fights for jump balls with taller receivers downfield. Regularly used as a blitzer due to his feel, quickness and tenacity. Very good vision and short-area quickness as a punt returner, can make the first man miss and cut back effectively against the grain. Will go outside if the space is there but also slalom through traffic up the field when necessary. Also has balance and strength to get through arm tackles. Will also be a strong tackler on coverage units if required.

Weaknesses

Mathieu’s issues with substance abuse will be the primary focus of NFL teams whenever he decides to pursue a career in professional football. Possesses below-average size for the position. Usually brings down ballcarriers of any size, NFL veterans might prove a bigger challenge. Quicker than fast, though his effort often masks average straight-line speed for his size. Must prove his ability to stay with larger receivers and tight end in man coverage, as they use their length advantage to separate and frame to shield him from the ball. Will take chances as a punt returner, grabbing the ball on a bounce or inside the 5-yard line.

NFL Comparison

Cortland Finnegan

Bottom Line

The 2011 Bednarik Award winner as the nation’s top defender was dismissed from LSU for multiple violations of team rules. Subsequently, he decided to enter a drug rehab center and ultimately ended up declaring for the draft instead of transferring. When on the field, the undersized but ultracompetitive turnover machine (six forced fumbles, two interceptions in 2011) brings the physicality of a bigger player in his tackles, no matter where he plays. Mathieu is also a game-changer as a punt returner, ranking fourth in the country last year with 16.2 yards per attempt and scoring two touchdowns.
C
Grade Title
9.00-10 Once-in-lifetime player
8.00-8.99 Perennial All-Pro
7.50-7.99 Future All-Pro
7.00-7.49 Pro Bowl-caliber player
6.50-6.99 Chance to become Pro Bowl-caliber player
6.00-6.49 Should become instant starter
5.50-5.99 Chance to become NFL starter
5.20-5.49 NFL backup or special teams potential
5.01-5.19 Better-than-average chance to make NFL roster
5.00 50-50 Chance to make NFL roster
4.75-4.99 Should be in an NFL training camp
4.50-4.74 Chance to be in an NFL training camp
No Grade Likely needs time in developmental league.
NFL News
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