After selecting a guard and a linebacker with their first 2 picks in the 2013 NFL draft, Steve Keim and the rest of the organization decided to take a big risk in the 3rd round at number 69 overall, and took Tyrann Mathieu, defensive back out of LSU.
Tyrann Mathieu arrived at LSU in 2010 and made an immediate impact as a true freshman. Mathieu placed fourth on the team with 57 total tackles and led the SEC with five forced fumbles. Mathieu followed that up with a stellar sophomore season. Mathieu led the team with 76 total tackles and led the entire SEC with six forced fumbles and five fumble recoveries. Mathieu scored four total touchdowns his sophomore season, two on defense and two on punt returns. Mathieu was named a Heisman Trophy finalist, while finishing fourth in the voting. Mathieu was also named the Chuck Bednarik award winner as the nation’s top defensive player, while also being named SEC defensive player of the year, and a unanimous first team All-American.
After his amazing sophomore campaign, expectations were through the roof for Mathieu going into his junior season. But, after failing multiple drug tests, Mathieu was kicked off the LSU football team. Rather than transfer to a smaller school, Mathieu decided to sit out the season, and rejoin LSU for his senior season. But another failed drug test in October destroyed any opportunity Mathieu had of being reinstated at LSU, so Mathieu decided to declare for the 2013 NFL draft. While attempting to turn his life around, in addition to multiple rehab stints, Mathieu moved in with the parents of Arizona Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson.
Peterson and Mathieu had a very strong bond from their days of playing together at LSU. Mathieu then came out to Arizona, and began working with Peterson to be ready for the NFL combine, and the upcoming draft.
Mathieu had a strong showing at the NFL combine, running a 4.5 40-yard dash, and showing great movement in his positional drills. Many draft experts felt that Mathieu had first round talent, but would drop because of all the baggage (Mathieu reportedly told teams he failed upward of 10 drug tests while at LSU).
The Cardinals banked on Mathieu’s relationship with Patrick Peterson, and an already strong veteran presence in the locker room to help Mathieu stay on the right path. Mathieu’s size is still a concern, but Mathieu possesses great ball skills, which help him make up for his lack of size. The Cardinals will play him at the free safety position and will look for Mathieu to be an immediate impact player in the secondary. Because of the strong veteran presence in the Cardinals locker room, including Patrick Peterson, I think Mathieu will be able to stay on the right path and be a playmaker for the Cardinals.
Therefore, I give this pick a B+.