The NFL tolerates idiocy among its draft prospects, but when a certain line of stupidity is crossed, there’s a punishment. Alec Ogletree didn’t cross that arbitrary and often moving line when he was arrested on a DUI charge two days before the Scouting Combine. Neither did Janoris Jenkins last year when he was still very nearly a first-round pick despite multiple arrests.
Tyrann Mathieu did, though. His drug addiction and his reported distaste for the sport of football led to the conclusion that there may have been more than just a personal defect at play with him, and a reliance on substances that can be overcome. Instead, there was a fear among some that Mathieu had a deeper character fracture, and that his football passion was, at best, lukewarm.
More than anything, that’s what kept him from being a likely first-round pick, and possibly even in the top 10. And now tonight it’s what gave the Arizona Cardinals a steep third-round discount on a player who could be among the best in this cornerback draft class in the very near future. The Cardinals selected him with the seventh pick of the third round (69th overall).
Jerraud Powers was signed as a free agent last month to play alongside Patrick Peterson. But now when Mathieu is added to that secondary as likely a nickel corner at first, the athleticism and ball skills of this defensive backfield immediately spike. Suddenly, in a division where the playmaking of quarterbacks Colin Kaepernick and Russel Wilson can now be matched by Peterson and Mathieu, the Cards’ secondary could be very imposing, very soon.