By kicking him off the team, the LSU Tigers effectively killed Tyrann Mathieu‘s chances of being a 1st-round pick.
That may sound like a bold statement, especially this early in the draft process, but it’s the reality of the situation. Positive drug tests don’t always hurt a player’s draft stock. Teams understand that many players experiment with drugs, especially marijuana, during their college (and professional) careers. Most teams will overlook a positive drug test from an elite prospect because the reward greatly outweighs the risk.
But Mathieu isn’t an elite prospect.
A player in Mathieu’s shoes (i.e. a player on the cusp of 1st-round consideration) can’t afford to give teams any reason to drop him on their boards. Whether or not he should be given a 1st-round grade was already going to be a heated discussion in many war rooms, and now Mathieu just gave more ammunition to his detractors.
As a general rule of thumb, any prospect with one downfall can still be considered a potential 1st-round if he is elite in other areas but two eliminates him from consideration. Mathieu now has two significant red flags – size and character – and he will have a difficult time convincing teams to overlook his three positive drug tests.
Realistically, the best decision for Mathieu is to play at the FCS level this year and enter the 2013 NFL Draft. He should still come off the board in the 2nd or 3rd round and be given an opportunity to compete for a job at the next level. But if he wants to elevate his stock, he may need two more trouble-free years to convince teams that he has matured.