When my source first called me from the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala. with this news yesterday, I was numb. Could the New York Jets possibly stay on the front page of the newspapers with more off-the-field news? Seriously, wouldn’t they just be better off having a reality TV show rather than actually attempting to play football? I think the first thing I said was, “I know he returns kicks and plays cornerback, but can he play offense?”
Former LSU star cornerback Tyrann ”Honey Badger” Mathieu was at Senior Bowl practice Monday, not as a player, but to market himself to NFL teams as he attempts to prove that his checkered past is in fact a thing of the past. Mathieu, who was was dismissed from the LSU team last August for failing a drug test, was arrested in late October along with three other former LSU players – including quarterback Jordan Jefferson – after police said they found marijuana at Mathieu’s apartment. Subsequently, Mathieu announced he would enter the 2013 NFL draft.
The former 2011 Heisman Trophy finalist and winner of the 2011 Chuck Bednarik Award given to the year’s best defensive player in college football, Mathieu earned the nickname “The Honey Badger” for his tenacious ability to play football against much larger opponents, as well as his knack for making big plays. Mathieu had been training for the NFL combine in South Florida and was most recently spotted in Arizona training with Pro Bowl cornerback Patrick Peterson, a former LSU cornerback now with the Arizona Cardinals.
While Mathieu didn’t have any formal meetings set up with NFL teams before he arrived, he did get generate quite a buzz when he arrived and had no problem acquiring the forum speak to NFL scouts, coaches and executives. Mathieu spoke with a number of teams, but most notably, Mathieu generated interest from the New York Jets, Washington Redskins and Miami Dolphins. Incidentally, Mathieu is a friend of RotoExperts and we wish him well no matter where he ends up…
There are two items of note here that make the Jets stand out in terms of interest more than other teams.
1) Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis is one of the NFL players known to be counseling Mathieu. One would think that Revis is be able to give thoughtful insight and a quality recommendation into the matter.
2) We have confirmed that the Jets had contact with Pat Lawlor, the agent for the cornerback / returner. Lawlor is also the agent for one of Mathieu’s mentors, Patrick Peterson.
At just 5’-9”, 174 pounds, Mathieu was able to wreak havoc not only in the secondary, but in the backfield of opposing teams at the college level. Given the fact that Mathieu’s knack for the big play is legendary, one would think that adding him to a secondary already including cornerbacks Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie would have defensive minded Jets head coach Rex Ryan salivating. The other thought here is that the Jets need so much offensive help, that if they could convince other teams that Darrelle Revis is fully recovered from injury, the Jets might be able to trade Revis for multiple players and replace him with Mathieu.
Someone is going to draft Mathieu, the question is, what round & pick is the risk/reward worth it? While the Jets obvioulsy aren’t the only team interested in “The Honey Badger,” because of Rex Ryan, they are clearly viewed as the front runner to “reach for him” and draft him at a higher position than anyone else. One would think that new Jets GM John Idzik would go out of his way to make a point of changing the culture of the Jets locker room, only bringing in conservative personalities who do not make off-the-field headlines. I think it’s safe to say that if the Jets “reach” for Mathieu, it will be clear that Rex Ryan and not John Idzik is making the Jets draft picks.