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Tyrann Mathieu drafted by Arizona Cardinals at No. 69

NEW YORK -- Tyrann Mathieu is heading west, and he has a friend waiting for him in the desert. The Arizona Cardinals took the artist formerly known as the Honey Badger off the board with the No. 69 overall selection in the 2013 NFL Draft, ending months of speculation regarding Mathieu's readiness for the NFL.

The Cardinals surely were more comfortable taking a risk on Mathieu because of the presence of Patrick Peterson, Mathieu's friend and mentor.

"Just these last six months (Peterson's) just been a big brother," Mathieu told the Cardinals' official website in March. "He's really been a teacher for me."

(Also making the Cardinals' brass feel better: Mathieu told NFL Network that he will take a weekly drug test for the Cardinals.)

Mathieu isn't the biggest or fastest cornerback out there. But he displayed great instincts and playmaking ability at LSU before substance abuse problems got him kicked off the team. In the end, it didn't hurt his draft stock that much. He still got taken before big names like quarterbacks Matt Barkley (USC) and Ryan Nassib (Syracuse) and defensive end Damontre Moore (Texas A&M).

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Mathieu had a defiant attitude heading into Friday's second and third rounds.

"It's not about what round I go in or how much money I get, it's about when I get back on the football field and prove everybody wrong," he told ESPN's Josina Anderson. "They basically made me seem like a liar. I've been 100 percent honest with everybody I've ever talked to this entire draft process. It's just about what I'm going to do when I get back on the field. It's not even about getting drafted or anything like that anymore."

The Cardinals had a meat-and-potatoes start to their draft with guard Jonathan Cooper (No. 7 overall) and linebacker Kevin Minter (No. 45). And now they have added some sizzle to their secondary and return game with Mathieu.

UPDATE:Cardinals coach Bruce Arians announced that Mathieu will play free safety, not cornerback, according to The Arizona Republic.

Follow Gregg Rosenthal on Twitter @greggrosenthal.

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