TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) — The Arizona Cardinals made relatively safe choices in the first two rounds of this year’s draft and decided to gamble a bit with their third pick.
To some, taking Tyann Mathieu wasn’t a small risk, either.
Once one of college football’s most dynamic players, the LSU defensive back and kick returner had a very public fall from grace and down NFL draft boards after being kicked off his college team and being arrested for marijuana.
After talking to Mathieu and seemingly everyone who knows him, the Cardinals believed the potential reward was worth rolling the dice.
“We felt involved,” Cardinals first-year general manager Steve Keim said.
The Cardinals weren’t the only team to go out on a limb during last month’s draft.
Pittsburgh used its first-round pick on Georgia linebacker Jarvis Jones despite a poor time in the 40-yard dash during a pre-draft workout and a diagnosis of spinal stenosis early in his college career.
The Chargers took a minor gamble by moving up seven spots in the second round to get Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o, who played poorly in the national championship game and has been dogged by a hoax involving a fake girlfriend.
The Oakland Raiders made one of the boldest moves, using the No. 12 overall pick to get Houston cornerback D.J. Hayden, a player who was moments from death last November after an on-field collision with a teammate in practice tore a blood vessel off the back of his heart.
“Of course, we researched the health issues,” Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie said. “Now, everything we got back from that standpoint was more than positive so it became a non-issue for us in that regard. He’s going to have to mentally go through it now, that’s the only issue we had.”