Mathieu Story a Warning to Always Beware NFL Draft News

Chris Graythen

You can't take anything at face value this time of year.

Late last night, a report from the USA Today hit regarding Tyrann Mathieu's NFL Draft prospects. The big takeaway from it seems to be that he failed at least 10 drug tests while at the school.

OK. Let's stop this thing right there. Where is this information coming from? Was it Mathieu? His agent? An LSU source?

During one visit, Mathieu was asked how many drug tests he failed before he was suspended in college.

According to an assistant coach for the team, Mathieu responded: "I quit counting at 10. I really don't know."

The coach, who spoke to USA TODAY Sports on the condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to comment about the evaluation, ...

Ah ha. So it was a coach that put this information out. If you pay attention to draft coverage, you know that teams always leak bad information around this time of year. The reason is that they're hoping to spook other teams so that the guy they want falls. Leaked Wonderlic tests are a common way to do that, but drug stuff qualifies too.

As for the coach not being authorized to comment, that's almost certainly hogwash. He definitely was authorized to comment, just not reveal who he works for. Then, other teams would know who is hoping to get Mathieu to fall to them.

Furthermore, we don't even know if Mathieu said that. He could have said something similar and this coach is not remembering it correctly. The coach could also be embellishing it or even just inventing it entirely to, again, spook other teams. If this coach leaks something that doesn't line up with what Mathieu told other teams, that could give the former Tiger a bigger red flag for "character" and cause someone else to pass on him.

Mathieu, for his part, denied via his agent ever saying that or giving any specifics. LSU denies it too.

But, let's suppose that Mathieu did say something similar for the sake of argument. Even that doesn't make it true. Let's finish up that quote that I ended with an ellipsis above:

The coach, who spoke to USA TODAY Sports on the condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to comment about the evaluation, doesn't dump all of the blame on Mathieu. He points a finger at LSU.

"If he flunked 10 tests before they suspended him, it shows that he got no kind of help," the coach said.

If this sounds familiar, it's basically the line that some former Auburn players were selling last week. The school didn't do enough to police its drug problems, so the guys doing drugs are less responsible for their actions. It didn't exactly do a whole lot for the two former Auburn players who have been through court already, and I don't expect it to do much for Mathieu either. That is, of course, if he even did try to use that argument, which he denies.

Everyone has motives and agendas during draft time, so you can't take anything that anyone says at face value. Even though there are only a handful of consistently good drafters and the rest go through cycles of being lucky and unlucky, just about everyone in and around the NFL suddenly gets all cryptic and tries to play mind games to get an edge. Never mind the fact that poor coaching will doom far more draft selections than poor draft day decisions will, it's a chance to people to pretend they're James Bond or something.

Just tune out most draft coverage, especially if something sounds scandalous. It's not worth your time.

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