Was Tyrann Mathieu too big a risk for the Cardinals in the third round of the NFL draft? If Mathieu is as talented as Cardinals General Manager Steve Keim thinks, then the real risk would have been passing on an opportunity to add him in the third round.
Keim told Albert Breer of NFL Network that Mathieu was such an extraordinary playmaker on both defense and special teams at LSU that he has the potential to make an impact in a way that no other player in this year’s draft could have.
“I don’t know if I’d go out on a limb and say he could become the best corner in the draft,” Keim said. “What I would go out on a limb and say is, he could be the best playmaker in the draft. He just has such unique skill, with instincts and getting his hands on the ball. He’s so opportunistic on the field.”
Of course, Mathieu also got kicked off the team at LSU after failing more drug tests than he could count, and Keim acknowledges that there are real risks associated with bringing a person like Mathieu into the locker room. But Keim thinks the Cardinals have the kind of locker room that can handle him.
“It goes back to the fact that if you have 53 guys in your locker room, and if 25 of them are character risks, you’d have a real problem,” Keim said. “We feel like we’ve done a good enough job drafting and going through free agency to build some character — not characters — in our locker room, so that we can surround a few guys who may have had some issues in the past that deserve a second chance and an opportunity to succeed. You look at your locker room, and you have to feel like you have some stability in place, so you can take a chance here or there.”
And taking a chance became a lot easier after the Cardinals fell in love with Mathieu’s talent.