Originally posted by tatdwolf49:
I don't know much about him besides all tha BS I've heard but I wonder if hes a good tackling N hard hitting Guy? ?? I ask cause I know he's shot 5'9 I believe but I don't think height is as important in SS/FS so could he change N be a good or great SS OR FS? ???
Size: Mathieu doesn't have very good size for a cornerback as he is listed at just 5'9", 175 pounds. (Antoine Winfield didn't let that hurt him) He more than makes up for his lack of ideal size, but when you see him line up opposite a receiver you notice that he has a natural disadvantage due to his height.
Athleticism: Mathieu is a fantastic athlete. He has great straight line speed, impressive quickness and burst, he changes directions very easily, he closes very effectively and he absolutely flies around the field whenever he steps onto it. His athleticism helps mask his lack of size.
Man Coverage: Mathieu doesn't play a vast amount of man coverage at LSU (or at least I haven't seen him do so) because they moved him around a lot last year as a nickel corner, and this year he often plays inside on the slot guy. However, he has fluid hips, he changes directions well, he closes incredibly fast on plays in front of him, he recovers very quickly on plays behind him, and he mirrors receivers well thanks to his quick reaction time. I think he could be a great man coverage corner, I just haven't seen a ton of evidence of it yet due to how LSU uses him.
Zone Coverage: Mathieu is lethal in zone coverage for many of the same reasons he is lethal in man coverage. He is very instinctual (indicates he likely watches a LOT of film) and he reads quarterbacks very well. Then, once he knows where the ball is going, he is off like a rocket closing on the ball and more times than not if it is thrown near him he makes a play on it to either break up the pass or to make an interception. He is incredibly comfortable in space and his closing speed makes him a special zone corner.
Run Support: This is one aspect of Mathieu's game that really surprised me the first time or two that I saw him last year as a freshman. He closes on the running game the same way he closes on passes in the air and that is surprisingly rare for cornerbacks. He is very willing in run support, he loves laying down a big hit, and he's not afraid to tackle running backs that are much larger than him. He may be one of the best run support corners in the entire country.
Tackling: Mathieu is a very reliable tackler. He does miss tackles in open space at times, but most players do miss those on occasion. However, I would say he is a very good tackler especially for a cornerback. He is a fundamentally sound tackler and he doesn't drop his head when he attempts tackles. This often results in missed tackles and a surprising number of players do this. On top of all that, he also packs a serious punch as a hitter. He is one of the best corners in the country when it comes to hit power and his proficiency for forcing fumbles.
Blitzing: Mathieu is an effective blitzing corner and he is very dangerous coming off the edge as a blitzing corner. He seems to be pretty good at knowing when to come late, when to show he is coming, and when to show that he's coming and then drop back into coverage. It isn't as much of a surprise to see him blitzing as a sophomore because he was so incredibly successful doing so as a freshman, but he hasn't had quite as much success blitzing off the edge thus far this year. However, I would argue that his lack of success has something to do with coaching staffs scheming to make sure he isn't the one to create pressure and get a hit on their quarterback because of his proficiency for forcing turnovers.
Ball Skills: Mathieu's ball skills are out of this world. I'm not sure I've ever seen a player who is more of a ball-hawk than Mathieu is. He flies to the ball constantly, he has great hands to make tough catches in traffic or on diving attempts, locates the ball very well in the air, he adjusts to the ball effectively in the air, and he will do anything to make a pass deflection or an interception. This part of his game is the part that truly sets him apart and makes him a rare, special corner.
Intangibles: I believe that Mathieu has very impressive intangibles. He's an aggressive player and he plays with great energy all the time, and I think he has fantastic instincts and I would imagine that has something to do with good study habits. However, he does have a tendency to get in people's faces due to his intensity, and I see him "barking" at players after the play is over which will eventually get noticed and draw penalties in college and in the NFL. I think he has had a late hit or two when I have watched him as well, and that is something that he needs to make sure he doesn't do. You love the intensity and his willingness to fight until the whistle, but late hits are cheap yards for the offense and he can't make simple mistakes like that.
****He's a much better fit for a zone scheme which allows him to get to the ball often. He may also be slot corner only, because it remains to be seen if he can be trusted on the boundary. Mathieu was a high-impact punt returner during his time at LSU. He displayed elite change of direction skills and vision to complement it. Despite the question marks, many teams will be excited about his instinctive style of play and tendency to turn games around on a dime.