How much more can be said about how much of a risk it was for the Arizona Cardinals to draft him in the third round? All of his off-the-field problems have been well documented. There is also a lot to be found about his potential and how much impact he could be on the field despite being undersized and perhaps a step slow for his size.
That is what caught the eyes of Arizona general manager Steve Keim. He was quoted in a recent NFL.com story by Albert Breer saying that the potential for his impact on the field far outweighs the possibility for a return to the problems he has had.
"I don't know if I'd go out on a limb and say he could become the best corner in the draft," Keim said. "What I would go out on a limb and say is, he could be the best playmaker in the draft. He just has such unique skill, with instincts and getting his hands on the ball. He's so opportunistic on the field."
Clearly the team doesn't think he will be the best corner. They are having him play safety. But that is already known.
Something else that was said in the article is something that has not been talked about much. Yes, the Arizona Cardinals with Patrick Peterson and Larry Fitzgerald are a good fit, but the head coach seems to be just the guy to work with him.
He has worked with guys with troubles, namely Ben Roethlisberger and Santonio Holmes. Said one AFC coach, "Anyone who's dealt with Ben knows he can be aloof, he's different, but Bruce had an unbelievable relationship with him. ... If anyone can handle this, it's Bruce, and he's surrounded himself with coaches who know what he's about."
Assuming Mathieu's head is in the right place these days and that the NFL money and lifestyle don't cause him issues, I can't think of a better situation for him. He has his friend, other very professional teammates, some former teammates, a relatively quiet big city to live in and a coach that is known for connecting with players.
All that's left is some plays on the football field.
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