Bell: Tyrann Mathieu suits up, says he's all business
Jarrett Bell, USA TODAY Sports9:53 p.m. EDT April 11, 2013
(Photo: Chris Graythen, Getty Images)
Ex-LSU cornerback is visiting 10 NFL teams in hopes of improving his draft stock
Mathieu is showing up to each meeting wearing a business suit and being honest about past troubles
So much about putting a value on Tyrann Mathieu's NFL draft stock involves getting a grip on his past. Two weeks before the NFL draft, the rehabbing former Louisiana State cornerback is in the midst of a 10-stop, cross-country tour with a few more face-to-face chances to sell the notion that he can be trusted after marijuana derailed his college career.
Six teams down, four to go. Mathieu will be in the desert Friday visiting the Arizona Cardinals. On Monday, he'll meet with the Cincinnati Bengals. Sit-downs with the Houston Texans and Seattle Seahawks follow.
On each visit, Mathieu is wearing a suit and tie, hoping to send a not-so-subtle message that he's all business.
"This is his job interview," agent Patrick Lawlor told USA TODAY Sports. "It's just a matter of presenting himself as a professional."
And distancing himself from his turmoil. Mathieu, 20, once known for his nickname, Honey Badger, repeatedly has declared he's been clean since October, when he was arrested on possession of marijuana charges after being booted off the team.
During one visit, Mathieu was asked how many drug tests he failed before he was suspended in college.
According to an assistant coach for the team, Mathieu responded: "I quit counting at 10. I really don't know."
The coach, who spoke to USA TODAY Sports on the condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to comment about the evaluation, doesn't dump all of the blame on Mathieu. He points a finger at LSU.
"If he flunked 10 tests before they suspended him, it shows that he got no kind of help," the coach said.
Mathieu (5-9, 186 pounds) isn't regarded as an elite athletic talent but is potentially a special prospect. As a sophomore, he was the first defensive player in 14 years to go to New York as a finalist for the Heisman Trophy. He has impressed NFL teams with his chalkboard knowledge during these weeks of close-contact scrutiny and has long wowed evaluators with his football instincts.