The New Orleans Saints should be considering former LSU cornerback Tyrann Mathieu with the No. 75 overall pick in the NFL draft despite his past.
Mathieu is well known both on the field and off. He is known as the man who was kicked off the LSU team last year and has not played football in over a year thanks to a variety of marijuana arrests and an addiction to the substance that actually landed him in rehab (per ESPN).
Now on the path to redeem his image, Mathieu is widely viewed as a third-round pick in the upcoming draft. He has an intriguing skill set as a defender and on special teams when it comes to returning kicks.
While at LSU, Mathieu was a Heisman finalist despite being a defensive back. This was because of the plethora of turnovers he created via interceptions and forced fumbles, not to mention his elite kick and punt returning skills that will make him an invaluable asset at the next level.
For New Orleans, adding Mathieu should at least be an option if he falls to the third round.
It will not be a popular notion with fans, but Mathieu would fit well with the Saints. Yes, he is a bit under-sized at just 5’9″ and 186 pounds, but he makes up for it with his physicality and elite ball skills. He is an ideal slot corner who would fit well in defensive coordinator Rob Ryan’s 3-4 defense.
According to Les East, Ryan and Mathieu have been in touch recently, which may be a sign of what the Saints are thinking:
— Les East (@EastAdvocate) March 28, 2013
Ryan sees something in Mathieu that most Saints fans should. So do NFL draft experts like CBS’ Rob Rang, who compares him to former Minnesota Vikings elite corner Antonie Winfield:
Compares To: Antoine Winfield, CB, Minnesota Vikings — Like the 5-09, 180 pound Winfield, Mathieu has Pro Bowl potential due to his tenacity, instincts and physicality.
Like Winfield, Mathieu is a heck of a defender and is as explosive as they come on special teams.
New Orleans has a need in the secondary even with the great signing of Keenan Lewis. Patrick Robinson and the rest of the players on the roster were absolutely embarrassed last season as the Saints managed to have the worst statistical defense in NFL history.
At this point, adding a play-maker of Mathieu’s caliber is a no-brainer.
There is something to be said for Mathieu’s laundry list of off-field issues, but it is something that can be overcome with a strong locker room that can keep him in check. Look no further than how Adam Jones has turned things around with the Cincinnati Bengals over the past few years for inspiration on how the Saints could help Mathieu along.
The Saints are without a second-round pick and have a few holes to fill, but if Mathieu falls he has to be in consideration. The Saints desperately need play-makers in the secondary and adding Mathieu to the mix will instantly upgrade the rotation at cornerback.
It is a pick that has a lot of potential to backfire in the long-term, but it is not like you are going to find many former Heisman finalists in the third round. Mathieu is worth the gamble for that reason alone. Third-round picks do not usually pan out in New Orleans, but Mathieu has already shown what he can do and could take a dive to the third round anyway because of his past.
If the Saints organization believes Mathieu has truly turned things around off the field, then selecting him makes too much sense.
We want to hear what you think! Do you think the Saints should draft Tyrann Mathieu in the third round if he is available?