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'Honey Badger' Tyrann Mathieu leaving a sour taste to some

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Cheers and Jeers,Sports,NFL,John Keim

The Redskins will have a chance to draft LSU corner Tyrann Mathieu. Two years ago, that would have been an exciting possibility. Now? After missing last season because he was kicked off the team, reportedly for multiple positive drug tests? It's far from a no-brainer and, really, it depends on your philosophy.

One longtime general manager who spent time with multiple NFC teams and a former GM both said they would not select Mathieu because of the off-field issues.

"He has talent but is undisciplined and lacks technique," the former GM also said.

But a longtime defensive coach said he would take him and, in the end, it really only matters if Redskins coach Mike Shanahan would. And that will come down to their background investigative work on Mathieu. Keep in mind that Shanahan once selected troubled running back Maurice Clarett in the third round. While Clarett did not get suspended for drugs, the stories about him and his character were worse than those of Mathieu, whose biggest demon is marijuana. That's not to minimize it by any means.

"It's a big deal when it's habitual," the longtime GM said. "That's the point you make. When it's habitual, it's a big thing. Like everyone drinks too, but if you drink every day and live to drink, that's a problem. That's the bottom line. Yeah, we all drink. When it's done socially, casually, in a controlled way, it's nothing. But some guys can't control it and are addicts."

What you shouldn't do: rely on your locker room to save the player. As one Redskins veteran said a few months ago, they were unable to stop Tanard Jackson last year. No one is with a player 24/7.

"Saying 'I'll be the guy to change him?' What do you think they did at LSU when they can police him better because he doesn't have any money?" the longtime GM asked. "He couldn't be in a better situation to monitor him. In the NFL, you have no control over him, so what am I going to do differently to change this guy?"

- John Keim

jkeim@washingtonexaminer.com

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