Honey Badger is headed to the draft, but, after a stellar college football career cut short by drug issues, his standing is in question among NFL draft experts.
Tyrann Mathieu was a defensive back at LSU, racking up the stats and personal accolades, when his career was derailed by drug problems. Shortly before this season started, he was dismissed by the Tigers for failing multiple drug tests.
Honey Badger seemed crushed by the development and, at the time, spoke about returning to LSU but got into more trouble in the fall. He had a falling out with the school during the season and, in October, was arrested for marijuana possession.
Honey Badger now decided to enter the 2013 NFL Draft instead.
“I am sorry that I was not able to complete my journey at LSU, but I will always support LSU in any way I can,” Tyrann Mathieu said in a statement. “To my teammates, you are my brothers. You havekept me going. I will do my best to make you all proud of me.”
As Sports Illustrated reported, Honey Badger’s draft status is up in the air:
“The last game that Mathieu played was the BCS national championship on Jan. 9, 2012, meaning that he’ll have gone more than a year prior to the draft without competing. That, plus his off-field red flags, should be more than enough to give teams pause when considering him as a prospect.
“Even without all of those issues, however, Mathieu’s draft stock may have been uncertain. He won the 2011 Bednarik Award, handed out to college football’s best defensive player, and was a Heisman finalist after a sophomore season in which he made huge play after huge play — Mathieu finished the 2011 campaign with 76 tackles, 11 interceptions, six forced fumbles, two defensive touchdowns and a pair of punt return touchdowns.”
Other players have done well in the NFL after dealing with “character issues” early in their careers, Sports Illustrated noted. The Rams suspended Janoris Jenkins in Week 10 for breaking team rules, but the rookie is still putting up a solid season including two interceptions returned for touchdowns last week. The Ravens also took a gamble on Jimmy Smith even though he failed many drug tests and was arrested for third-degree assault, but so far the team has had no issues with him.
Whether Honey Badger would have draft success is still in question, but NFL Draft analyst Drew Boylhart told Bloomberg News that the cornerback could fall due to the fourth or fifth round, not because of off-field issues but instead his poor coverage skills.