Former LSU defensive back Tyrann Mathieu remains one of the biggest question marks in this year’s NFL draft. And his performance on the bench press at the Scouting Combine may raise more questions.
Mathieu managed to bench 225 pounds just four times, an extremely low total for any NFL player — even a kicker. (The only kicker who benched at this year’s Combine, Arizona State’s Josh Hubner, managed 13 reps.) Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer said on NFL Network this morning that Mathieu’s bench press total calls into question whether he’s been working hard in the weight room.
“It does concern me, because if he was working, obviously — I can bench four times, probably,” Zimmer said.
Mathieu was out of football last year after getting kicked off the team at LSU, and his work ethic has been called into question in the past. It’s easy to scoff at the bench press as irrelevant to what a defensive back does on a football field, but an extremely low bench press is indicative of a player who isn’t working hard enough in the weight room.
At 186 pounds, Mathieu is one of the smallest defensive backs at this year’s Combine, but just being small isn’t an excuse for a weak performance on the bench. Adrian Bushell of Louisville weighed in at exactly the same weight as Mathieu and did 17 reps, and Jamar Taylor of Boise State is only six pounds heavier than Mathieu and did 22 reps.
Not being able to bench a lot doesn’t mean Mathieu can’t make it in the NFL. But it might mean he doesn’t have a good work ethic. And if he doesn’t work hard, he won’t make it in the NFL.