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A glance into Tyrann Mathieu’s football and NFL future

File photo of Tyrann Mathieu in Baton Rouge

Louisiana State University cornerback Tyrann Mathieu walks off the field after his team defeated Western Kentucky in Baton Rouge, Louisiana in this November 12, 2011 file photo. Mathieu has been dismissed from the Tigers for violating team policy, head coach Les Miles announced August 10. Mathieu was one of the team’s top defensive playmakers for a team that went undefeated during the regular season. Multiple reports have said that the Heisman Trophy finalist failed a drug test. REUTERS/Sean Gardner/Files (UNITED STATES)


2011 Heisman Trophy finalist Tyrann Mathieu was dismissed from the LSU football team on Friday for disciplinary reasons. ESPN’s Chris Low has reported Mathieu was booted for repeated violations of LSU’s substance abuse policy.

Like Janoris Jenkins a year ago, Mathieu is pursuing options at the FCS level, formerly known as Division I-AA. He has already visited McNeese State. Jackson State and Prairie View A&M are reportedly also on Mathieu’s radar. Check out CFT for the latest on Mathieu’s college future.

As an NFL-oriented site, PFT’s concern is with Mathieu’s future as a big-league, pro player. Listed at 5-foot-9, 175 pounds by LSU, Mathieu is an undersized but versatile defensive back with a knack for taking the football away from opponents. In two seasons at LSU, Mathieu forced 11 fumbles, intercepted four passes, recovered eight fumbles, and recorded six sacks. Also a dynamic return specialist, Mathieu scored twice on 2011 punt returns.

Last month, I broke down five of Mathieu’s sophomore-year games. He roamed all over LSU’s defensive formation, playing 36 percent of his snaps at slot cornerback, 32.5 percent at outside corner, and 10 percent at safety. On 21 percent of his plays, Mathieu operated primarily as a pass-rushing linebacker. He was a “joker” in LSU’s defense, wreaking havoc and causing collisions. He is a relentlessly physical defender. And while common perception might lead you to believe differently, I didn’t find Mathieu to be a liability in coverage.

Bang it here for that five-game breakdown.

Mathieu appears headed for one year of FCS ball, and the NFL draft in 2013. While NFL teams will surely red flag Mathieu for character concerns and internally debate his next-level position fit, they’re going to be impressed with his college game tape. Jenkins and Mathieu are different kinds of players, to be sure; Jenkins is a coverage corner, while Mathieu is a weapon with which a defense can attack an offense. But they are both former SEC stars who dropped down a level due to off-field issues, and it wouldn’t be surprising if they ended up being selected in the same draft vicinity.

The Rams made Jenkins the 39th overall pick in April’s draft.