LSU defensive back Tyrann Mathieu was almost certainly headed to the first round of the NFL draft after a Heisman Trophy finalist season. Before the next season at LSU, Mathieu found himself in trouble and was dismissed from the team for substance-abuse issues.
His draft stock dropped as teams grew weary of his off-field issues. Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson, a former teammate of Mathieu at LSU, vouched for him and asked his coach to draft him.
“Patrick knocked on the door and walked in my office,” Arians said, via ESPN. “He said, ‘I’ll stand on the table for this guy. He’s a good kid and he deserves a chance.’’’
Arians agreed when he finally met Mathieu.
“I thought he was a wonderful young man,” Arians said. “He knew his mistakes, owned up to his mistakes and was just looking for an opportunity. The football part spoke for itself, but he’s been nothing but a dream to coach.”
Other Cardinals teammates have seen what Peterson sees in Mathieu as well.
“The one thing that surprised me is his maturity,” quarterback Carson Palmer said. “You don’t know what to expect when you hear so many negative things about somebody, to have his name rubbed through the mud like it was for a long time.
“But he’s been an absolute professional from the first day. He listens and watches extra film. You see him work his butt off every day and try to learn everything he can from Patrick, not to feel like he’s already got it.”
Patrick Peterson and Mathieu trained together in the offseason. The decision to draft him has paid off for the Cardinals too. He currently is second on the team in tackles and has a sack and a forced fumble.