Despite his selection as a finalist for the 2011 Heisman Trophy, Tyrann Mathieu still was around for the Arizona Cardinals to snag in the third round of the NFL draft. It would've been stunning for an athlete of Mathieu's talent to get picked 69th overall, except for what's been reported to be his off-the-field drug habits. He was kicked out of the LSU football program in 2012, after which he entered drug rehabilitation. The New Orleans native returned to the LSU program only to get arrested, with three fellow players, for possession of marijuana. In an age when pro (and college) sports are trying to clean up their images, a "problem" such as Mathieu's can be sudden death for a promising career. But the Cardinals wisely decided to take a chance on Mathieu, one of the most aggressive cornerbacks ever to play the college game (the Cardinals are moving him to free safety).
Come on, his drug use allegedly involved pot, and while the Cardinals don't want professionals playing stoned, this can't be a big deal. Jeez, they can't be worried that he's a slo-mo stoner — the kid's known as the freakin' Honey Badger, and nobody has to tell us how fearsome honey badgers become when they're hungry. And Mathieu's always famished — his on-field grub being opposing guys trying to score. Proof of that is that his zealous attitude got him named MVP of the 2011 Southeastern Conference Championship, which LSU won. (Did we mention that the SEC is the toughest college football conference in the land, whose champion could've beaten the Cardinals last season?) In the '11 regular season at LSU, he had five forced fumbles, four fumble recoveries (two of which he returned for touchdowns), and 60 solo tackles. He received the Chuck Bednarik Award for best college defender for his trouble, the second year in a row an LSU player had won the honor (former/current teammate Patrick Peterson preceded Mathieu in 2010).
More on why Mathieu's called the Honey Badger: He's a little guy by football standards (5-foot-9, 185 pounds) who literally terrorizes much-larger running backs and receivers — something the Cards desperately need in their defensive backfield.