The New England Patriots now have eight picks to use in the 2013 NFL Draft, and one wonders if they will decide to use a third-round- or even a second-round- choice on former LSU Tigers star defensive back Tyrann Mathieu. The character concerns are pronounced, and the concerns of where he plays at the pro-level are also pronounced. There are some scouts who don’t even think Mathieu should be drafted, so the question of how his playmaking skills in college translate to the NFL is a pressing one.
Peter King was asked on Mut & Merloni today a variety of questions relating to the New England Patriots in the 2013 NFL Draft, and he was asked about Tyrann Mathieu. The famed Sports Illustrated NFL writer said on Mathieu, “I think Bill [Belichick] is exactly the same way. If Bill loves this guy, he’ll take him, and he’s not going to let all these things stand in the way of him taking him. But … if you’ve got a bunch of B+ guys, A guys, who never had any trouble and who are the equal as a corner of Mathieu, maybe not the playmaker, certainly, that he is, but if you’ve got all these really good players at the position who you’re not going to have to worry about at 10 on a Friday night, why would you not pick one of them instead of Tyrann Mathieu? That’s where I would fall on this. You’ve got enough things to worry about when you build your team. This is a guy who absolutely consistently got in trouble in college, consistently. When you have to transfer from a football factory, which I’m sure he got 93 chances to turn his life around and he didn’t do it, do you really want to take a chance on that guy? Again, Bill Belichick can handle it because he’s done that over the years. If you’re given the choice, why do it? I think there are cover guys who are his equal who are still left on the board.”
This is all very true. If there is any team in the best chance to sap the best of Mathieu’s abilities, then it would be the Patriots. However, I’m not sure where he fits. I view him as an ideal slot cornerback who would struggle on the outside (if the Pats view him as a potential outside CB, then that’s significant) and would be awful at safety. Mathieu has the upside of a guy like Cortland Finnegan, but he has the downside of a guy who is out of the league after his rookie year. The Patriots already have a solid slot CB locked up in Kyle Arrington, and he isn’t much of an outside corner himself.
Mathieu could be a quality pick for the Patriots in like the third round, but it all depends on how sold the Patriots are on him. I’m not exactly high on Mathieu, but I’ll trust Bill Belichick and the Patriots front office on this issue. King’s insight to this issue is invaluable, and I would recommend following the link above to WEEI and checking out the other thoughts he poured on the 2013 NFL Draft.
You can follow Joe Soriano on Twitter @SorianoJoe.