Former NFL cornerback and current NFL Network analyst Dieon Sanders is only rivaled by fellow analyst Mike Mayock when it comes to evaluating talent especially when it comes to defensive backs. But Sanders surely has the edge when it comes to that by not just what he sees on tape, but what he feels when he speaks to them.
Sanders recently spent some time in with former L.S.U. cornerback Tyrann Mathieu when he was training in Florida with former teammate, Arizona Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson. What Sanders took away was not a troubled youth but somebody who is ready to be a “dog” in the NFL.
The term wasn’t used to be a downgrade but a compliment to Mathieu as to his dedication to coming back from a college career that was marred with violations for substance abuse and his eventual arrest on marijuana charges.
Mathieu has been adamant that he wants to leave the “Honey Badger” moniker behind him and move on. Sanders even said that the nickname was almost like an alternate personality that at times got Mathieu into trouble off the field as much as it helped him on the field.
Mathieu’s performance at the NFL Scouting Combine didn’t start out well as he only did 4 reps on the bench press test which some took as a sign he hasn’t been hitting the weight room like he should. He also posted an official 4.50 in his 40-yard dash which while wasn’t blazing, isn’t showing the whole picture according to Sanders or even Mayock.
Both agree that Mathieu is quick and instinctual when it comes to football and Mayock commented that he is more of a football player than he is an athlete, hence the numbers that aren’t just jumping out all over the place.
Sanders also made another bold prediction that even though Mathieu is sloted by mock drafts to go somewhere in the 4th or 5th round, he feels that the once troubled cornerback will go in the early rounds and will be an every down player possibly even the outside corner position and not just play the nickel spot as others think he will.