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Mayock: Honey Badger A Combine 'Wildcard'


On Tuesday, NFL Scouts will see the individual workouts of Tyrann "Honey Badger" Mathieu; the 2011 Heisman Trophy finalist looking to rebuild his once-bright NFL future.

The real question for NFL scouts and draft experts is figuring out how to balance obvious football talent vs. red flags of character, commitment and legal troubles.

In 2011, he was named the Bednarik Award winner, First-Team All-American at cornerback, First-Team All-American at returner, National Defensive Player of the Year, SEC Championship MVP, four-time player of the week, and Walter Camp National Defensive Player of the Year winner.

On Aug. 10, 2012, Mathieu was dismissed from training camp for a violation of team rules, which was later revealed as a drug charge. After leaving the university, he was again arrested in October for possession of marijuana.

After attending drug rehab, Mathieu says he is a changed man and had no concerns waking up at 4 a.m. on Sunday morning for his Combine drug test.

For Mathieu, the next few days will be devoted to showing teams that he can be the playmaker he showed at LSU, without all the baggage.

"I want [NFL teams] to be able to trust me," he told Judy Battista of the New York Times. "I hold myself accountable for everything I've done, and in this past year it's been tough. At the end of the day, I want them to know that I'm a football player.

"I want to be a great teammate, and I want to be the same leader on the field that I know I can be off the field."

That will be easier said than done, as Mathieu will only have 15 minutes with each interested team to change their minds about his character.

If anyone is still skeptical, he understands. All he wants right now is an opportunity.

"I'm not totally asking them to trust me right now," he said. "What I have asked is for them to give me an opportunity to play the game. I've had a lot of time to reflect on it, especially without football.

"It's really given me a different outlook on life, and it's just about being the right kind of person."

NFL Network draft guru Mike Mayock has Mathieu listed under "Combine wildcard" this week, and expects teams like the Redskins to have a tough choice to make in an area of need.

For Mayock, character isn't the only thing to consider when considering the Honey Badger.

"My gut tells me he's a better football player than he is athlete," Mayock said of Mathieu. "He's small. I'm not sure he's going to run really well. So I think teams are going to look at him as kind of a nickel and kick returner."

Mathieu was known at LSU for his savvy and agility, but Mayock doesn't expect him to light up the stop watches in tomorrow's 40-yard dash.

"I don't think he's going to run better than the 4.5 or 4.55. If he does, that will help him," he said. "Most teams that I've talked to have him in the fourth round because they don't think he's very big and he's not going to run very fast, and he's had off-the-field issues.

"That could change with a  good time, but he's an intriguing guy."

The Redskins lack a first-round pick and have other areas of need that could be addressed throughout a reportedly deep draft pool.

If Mathieu is not available or is not wanted by the Redskins, Mayock says there are other corners that may help with the void in size in the Redskins' secondary.

"There are five guys there that are going to go in the second or third round that some of them are longer, outsider corners," Mayock explained.  "Guys like Marc Anthony from Cal, Blidi Wreh-Wilson [from] U-Conn., and two small-school kids that I love: Robert Alford from Southeast Louisiana, B.W. Webb from William & Mary, and Logan Ryan from Rutgers.

"Some of them are quicker, shorter, inside slot guys. But they're going to fall in that range from 50 through the end of the third round."




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