EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

April 25, 2013

LSU's Mathieu an absolute must for Pats

On Pro Football
Hector Longo

---- — I’m begging Bill Belichick and Nick Caserio.

Make one phone call before you pull the trigger tonight. Call Mark Richt at the University of Georgia and utter the words, “Honey Badger.”

If Richt doesn’t fall into a shock-induced traumatic state, he will tell you exactly what you want to hear.

As far as cornerbacks go, Tyrann Mathieu is the real deal. As a big time playmaker, he is the anti-Manti.

Unlike the Notre Dame linebacker, he stepped up in the biggest games at LSU, made plays that harkened to one of his predecessors there, Patrick Peterson, and dominated as few corners can or ever have.

The New England Patriots pick 29th in the first round of the draft tonight, which kicks off on both the NFL Network and ESPN at 8 p.m.

The mock drafts and expert opinions nationwide predict that Mathieu’s name won’t be called until rounds 2 or 3, which are Friday night.

But he was booted from the team this fall. It’s widely believed that Mathieu repeatedly failed drug tests.

Mathieu is a third-rounder in name only. He brings the goods, when he’s on the football field.

And therein lies the conundrum for Belichick and Caserio.

How long can they push the pick until one of the other 31 teams start feeling a little frisky about Mathieu?

Mathieu has spent much of the last six weeks on the road, trying to ensure as many NFL execs that he has turned his life around.

That hasn’t stopped him from boastfully hosting a “First Round Draft” party at the SL Nightclub for friends and family tonight in New York City.

Sorry, I love the brashness. And I hope Belichick does, too.

As I stated yesterday, the Patriots needed a legitimate big-play wide receiver out of this draft. With the depth at the position in the draft field, that new receiver can come anywhere in the first three rounds.

I’m warning Pats fans now. I wouldn’t be shocked if the likes of Mike Mayock and Mel Kiper Jr. scream bloody murder if the kid comes here at No. 29.

But the Pats have to get it done. The Honey Badger has to be here.

Certainly, Belichick has had plenty of input from outside sources on Mathieu.

Old friend Nick Saban saw plenty of him back in 2011.

Few athletes move gracefully like Mathieu. Again, check the highlights and watch the hips.

Ty Law’s hips come to mind. He flows with the receiver. You can see the dynamic nature on his punt and pick returns.

I truly don’t care that he could only bench 225 four times.

You think Ty Law was a bench press whiz? Nope, but he’ll be in Canton someday. And my money says Mathieu will be, too.

When is the last time Bill Belichick drafted a corner with true ball skills.

We thought Devin McCourty had them after one season.

Turns out, he just got lucky with a handful of soft, tipped balls that fell into his hands.

This is not a draft to stockpile talent or chips. This is a draft to be special.

And Tyrann Mathieu defines that to the hilt.