Let me preface this post by saying this--I am an Alabama Crimson Tide fan. I hate LSU, and I hated the Honey Badger, Tyrann Mathieu. But Tyrann Mathieu is a risk well worth taking for an Oakland Raider team deprived of talent, heart, and a secondary.
Mathieu was a Heisman Trophy Finalist before marijuana scandals plagued and eventually destroyed his collegiate career. He entered the draft today, and immediately received backlash for entering. Not only did the marijuana scandal plague the minds of many NFL GMs, but his height is WAY MORE than less than ideal. At only 5'9", his ability to produce at an NFL level is in serious doubt. He was burned in college from time to time by bigger, stronger receivers, like Marquise Maze in the 2012 BCS Championship.
But that was at cornerback. My proposal is that the Raiders select Mathieu and start him at free safety, for these three reasons: instinctive playmaking, current CBs, and the size issue.
Mathieu obviously earned the name "The Honey Badger" by taking what he wanted on the field, causing several fumbles, huge hits, and big plays. He has incredible flexibility and lateral movement, two things current FS Matt Giordano can only dream about. He also returns punts well, and his ability to return punts and Jacoby Ford's ability to return kickoffs would officially make Oakland's special teams unit the most explosive. Mathieu's ability to go for the ball is reminiscent of Ed Reed, a guy well worth mentioning later in the article.
Secondly, I know I will receive massive backlash for this, but Oakland's current group of corners is pretty solid. Mike Huff gets better every week as a converted safety, Ron Bartell is playing better finally, after recovering from an injury, and Joselio Hanson has been a major brightspot as the nickel cornerback. Combine that with a solid veteran or Chimdi Chekwa in 2013, Oakland's Corner Core is good enough to win football games. But safety is extremely thin. Not only are the Raiders below the minimum number of usual safeties at 3, but two of them have glaring flaws. Matt Giordano, simply, is TERRIBLE. Like I said with flexibilty and lateral movement, Giordano pulled a hammy trying to cover Mike Wallace. And Mike Mitchell really is a smaller, faster linebacker, or at least that's how he plays. Free safety is really the gaping hole in the secondary, that when patched, could do wonders.
And finally, Mathieu would best be served at corner because of his size. He could simply not cover Vincent Jackson, Demaryius Thomas, Dwayne Bowe, and others. But, at 5'9", his size would be definitely small, but marginal at free safety. Ed Reed is the ideal size for a safety, and he's 5'11". That's right. Only two inches. But Mathieu won't be Ed Reed. He'd be a solid welcome as a guy like Michael Huff was for all these years. A position you don't have to worry about filling.
I'm fully aware that many despise Mathieu for making bad choices, but in all honesty, I don't see marijuana use as as big a crime as everyone else. I feel it's similar along the lines to alcohol (I live in Colorado, though), and he's a college kid. At a party school. Where there will be marijuana. And it will make you happy. He's made some dumb mistakes, and he's certainly no Rhodes Scholar, but neither is Morris Claiborne, and he's making plays in Dallas. At this point, with this team, I'd have no trouble seeing Oakland trade back and take Mathieu in the 2nd Round. But he will fall to the early 3rd round, where this pitiful, injury-ridden team will be picking, and I'd hope to see the Honey Badger's name called.