Despite the New York Giants reputation as one of the most upstanding organizations in the NFL, general manager Jerry Reese is not above taking a chance on a player with off the field issues. For example, safety Will Hill saw some significant playing time in 2012 after sitting out the entire 2011 season. In fact, the team has won two Super Bowl's with the likes of Mario Manningham, Plaxico Burress and Ahmad Bradshaw playing major roles. So while it's hard to predict whether former LSU cornerback Tyrann Mathieu will be on the draft board by the time the Giants' second-round pick comes around, his character issues may not deter Big Blue's interest as much as one may expect.
Mathieu is 5'9" and 175 pounds. If he were two or three inches bigger and 15 pounds heavier, he would be the most talented cornerback in the 2013 draft. His instincts are unparalleled and he's always around the football. Mathieu's physicality allows him to play "bigger" than his modest frame would normally dictate, and he rarely gets beat over the top. As a team with the second worst pass defense in the NFL in 2012, the Giants could use a physical slot cornerback.
However, Mathieu also presents value as a roaming safety as well. With the impending loss of Kenny Phillips, the Giants are going to lose an over-the-top presence that very few athletes out there have the capability to replace.Mathieu does not have the stature to start as a safety in the NFL, and if Phillips does leave in free agency, Stevie Brown is going to be his replacement. However, Mathieu is a ball-hawk who is physical enough to play against the run, while still being athletic enough to play over the middle of the field as well. Overall, the Giants would be able to move him from slot cornerback, to safety and use him in a variety of packages.
As a potential second round pick, Mathieu may not present great value. He's more of a complementary player that has the ability to make the others around him better. However, he is not big enough to play as a traditional cornerback in the NFL. He can guard well over the the middle of the field and he will create turnovers with his elite instincts, but Mathieu will likely become a rotational defensive back rather than a bonafide starter. Second round picks are supposed to develop into impact starters, and Mathieu's size will likely inhibit him from becoming that.
However, undersized cornerbacks have had success in the NFL before. St. Louis Rams cornerback Janoris Jenkins is just one inch taller than Mathieu and showed promise that he has the ability to become a premier cornerback in the NFL one day. That doesn't mean that Mathieu will as well; however, he's still a talented football player that can be used in a variety of roles to help the Giants improve their pass defense.
With Jayron Hosley and Prince Amukamara already on the roster, Mathieu would give the Giants a formidable trio of defensive backs. If Terrell Thomas can return to NFL form, then the Giants would have four cornerbacks capable of contributing in 2013. This would allow Jerry Reese to shed over $9 million of salary cap space by releasing Corey Webster. So not only would drafting Mathieu (or any other talented cornerback) make sense from a tactical standpoint, it would help the team relieve some of the salary cap issues that will undoubtedly plague them this offseason.
Regardless of his talent level, Tyrann Mathieu must prove to NFL teams that he has truly learned from the substance abuse issues that tarnished his college career. As a former Heisman Trophy finalist, Mathieu is a game changing talent that has the ability to make an impact in a variety of ways. However, he still has a lot to prove before any team invests a second-round pick in him. The Giants have a history of turning around the careers of troubled athletes, and Mathieu would be a project. However, his upside is undeniable and he offers a unique skill-set that could help diversify the secondary. It's questionable whether he presents good value as a second-round pick, but there would undoubtedly be a lot of excited Giants fans if Tyrann Mathieu is in Blue next season.
Also…Ahmad Bradshaw, burress, Football, Jerry Reese, LSU, Mario Manningham, mathieu, New York, New York Giants, NFL
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