Former Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Ike Taylor said that he and Ryan Clark have had their eye on Tyrann Mathieu since the 2013 NFL Draft.
Although a New Orleans homecoming would make sense for Tyrann Mathieu, there was another New Orleans homecoming planned in 2013: by drafting Mathieu to the Pittsburgh Steelers secondary.
At the time, there was a strong connection between New Orleans and the Steelers, since cornerback Ike Taylor was from Gretna and free safety Ryan Clark was from Marrero. Mathieu is from New Orleans, and his high school, St. Augustine’s, has been a longtime rival of Clark’s Shaw.
But it’s not as if the New Orleans connection is what made Mathieu stand out at the time. LSU’s “Honey Badger” was one of the most famous athletes at the time, known for his ferocity on the field, hence his hilarious nickname. Apparently, Taylor and Clark agreed that he would have been a perfect addition to the Steelers secondary, forming a formidable defense to rival the Seattle Seahawks and the Denver Broncos.
“Coming out of college, for Honey Badger, he had a few off-the-field issues,” Taylor explained. “We was like, ‘Coach, if you get Honey Badger, we got him.’ Plus, we’ve got Troy too, like, man, this is about to be easy!”
“We — I know me and Ryan Clark, for sure — begged to get him,” Taylor added. “Begged, begged, begged, begged to get him. Begged to get him. Begged to get him. Because he’s one of us. He’s a Pittsburgh Steeler.”
Tyrann Mathieu Steelers rumors: Ike Taylor thinks Honey Badger is a Steeler
Instead of listening to Taylor and Clark, the Steelers drafted OLB Jarvis Jones and RB Le’Veon Bell ahead of Mathieu, who was drafted in the third round with the No. 69 pick by the Arizona Cardinals. Funnily enough, former Chiefs teammate Travis Kelce went a few spots ahead of him at No. 63, yet Mathieu was seen as “headlining” the third round.
The “off-the-field” issues Taylor was referring to was a series of failed drug tests, which caused Mathieu’s stock to drop. Considering that Mathieu has spent his nine-year NFL career without these issues in a league that now allows players to smoke marijuana in the offseason, the disciplinary issues were one that the Steelers could have looked into as they scouted Mathieu. Bleacher Report’s Joe Tordy also made a case for Mathieu in 2013, declaring that “for a team like Pittsburgh that is in need of splash plays, a playmaker like Mathieu must be on the radar.”
Le’Veon Bell worked out perfectly until it didn’t while taking edge rusher Jarvis Jones in the first round was an obvious miss. Jones ended his career with 6.0 sacks, 130 tackles, 11 tackles for loss, 17 QB hits, three fumble recoveries, two interceptions, and nine passes defensed.
Considering how loyal Taylor, Clark and Troy Polamalu were to the franchise, it’s no stretch of the imagination to imagine Honey Badger would have loved being in black and yellow for the past decade — and it’s unlikely he’d be on the free agency market if the Steelers took him then.