Could CB Tyrann Mathieu be a draft-day option for Redskins?

By Ryan Wilson | CBSSports.com

The 2013 NFL combine kicks off Wednesday, and with it, the unofficial start to draft season. Over the next nine weeks, much analysis will be done of 40-times, 10-yard splits and cone-drill breakdowns, not to mention a month's worth of pro days all leading up to a three-day event in late April that will determine the fate of some 250 NFL hopefuls.

NFL analyst Mike Mayock, got things rolling on Presidents Day with a two-hour conference call with reporters that, well, pretty much covered everything. There are plenty of intriguing storylines: Which quarterbacks are worthy of a first-round pick? Where will Manti Te'o end up?

One storyline that's been lost in the shuffle since the college football season ended involves former LSU cornerback Tyrann Mathieu and what his NFL future may hold.

Mathieu, nicknamed "Honey Badger," earned 2011 SEC Defensive Player of the Year honors but was dismissed from the team in August 2012 for violating team rules. Mathieu checked himself into a treatment facility and re-enrolled at LSU but was later arrested on marijuana possession charges. Needless to say, getting booted from your college team and a subsequent drug-related run-in with authorities isn't the best way to ingratiate yourself with 32 potential employers.

But Mathieu will be in Indianapolis this week taking part in the combine in the hopes that he can convince coaches, scouts and front-office types that he's earned another chance.

In a question about upgrading the Redskins' secondary, Mayock was asked at what point the organization will look at a player like Mathieu.

"Tyrann Mathieu is a really interesting wildcard this weekend," Mayock said during the conference call. "My gut tells me he's a better football player than he is an athlete. He's small (note: Mathieu's listed at 5-foot-9, 178 pounds). I'm not sure he's going to run real well. So I think teams are going to look at him as kind of a nickel and a kick returner.

"I don't think he's going to run better than the 4.5 or 4.55," Mayock continued. "If he does, that will help him. So most teams that I've talked to have him more in the fourth round because they don't think he's very big and he's not going to run very fast, and he's had off-the-field issues. That could change with a good time, but he's an intriguing guy."

As for cornerbacks Mayock thinks will help the Redskins, he lists Marc Anthony (Cal), Robert Alford (Southeastern Louisiana), and B.W. Webb (William & Mary) as second-round options.

But cornerback isn't Washington's only position of need in the defensive backfield; there's also safety, which explains why we pegged the 'Skins to be in the Charles Woodson sweepstakes. Mayock highlighted which college safeties could be available when Washington goes on the clock with the 51st pick.

"I'm a big believer (Texas' Kenny) Vaccaro is going to be gone in the top 20," Mayock said. "I think (Florida's) Matt Elam is kind of a late one to mid-two, and I think Jonathan Cyprien from Florida International is a guy you ought to be looking really closely at. He had a great Senior Bowl week. I've got him as my number three safety. I think he's a guy that's going to be around somewhere in that middle to end of the second round. I think he could start immediately for the Washington Redskins, and he makes a ton of sense.

"After those three, there is a little bit of a drop off," he said. "So I think the guy you ought to be looking at is Cyprien as a guy that could be available. He can play both, but I like him at three."

The Redskins' first-round pick (22nd overall) belongs to the Rams as part of the trade that allowed Washington to draft Robert Griffin III last April.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, like us on Facebook, and subscribe to the Pick-6 Podcast on iTunes. You can follow Ryan Wilson on Twitter here: @ryanwilson_07.

 
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