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Arizona Cardinals rewarded for taking chance on Tyrann Mathieu

The previously troubled football player is now a leader in the locker room.

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

On Wednesday at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, Arizona Cardinals general manager Steve Keim addressed media. One question he was asked was about evaluating players who have had off-the-field issues.

The Cardinals took a chance on one such player in 2013, when they selected Tyrann Mathieu in the third round of that year's NFL Draft.

Mathieu had been kicked off the team at LSU and had tested positive on multiple occasions for drugs.

Since joining the Cardinals, he has had no issues and has even become a leader after just two seasons in the league.

Keim said "he's one of the best leaders in our locker room right now."

So how does a GM take non-football issues into consideration? Keim said it has to do about love of football.

"If they are passionate and love it enough, you have a chance to get them pointed in the right direction," he said, noting teams always are taking risks on players, no matter where they are drafted and regardless of whether it is a player's athleticism, durability or issues away from the field.

That is where Mathieu set himself apart. He is a football junkie. He agonized over his missed time. That is why the Cardinals took that risk. They have been rewarded.

The success with Mathieu is why the Cardinals might be willing to take a chance on another player with issues, as long as that kid loves football and is passionate about being great.