IRVING, Texas – One of the most controversial players in the draft is also one of the most sought after by a couple Cowboys players.
Tyrann Mathieu's off-field antics got him kicked off the LSU football team, but his abilities on the field helped the Tigers get to a national championship game. Cowboys cornerback Morris Claiborne, a former teammate of Mathieu's, remembers well what the infamous "Honey Badger" can bring to a defense.
"This guy is phenomenal," Claiborne said Thursday on ESPN Radio. "Just being at LSU with him and seeing what type of person he is, he's a good guy on and off the field, if you ask me. I've seen this guy. He has a big heart. On the field, he's just one of those guys that makes plays. I don't care how big you say he has to be or how tall you say he has to be."
Claiborne said he believes in giving people chances, and that the Cowboys would benefit from selecting the cornerback.
That interview came moments after Dez Bryant took to Twitter to describe his outlook on Mathieu.
"A lot of great players in this draft but @Mathieu_Era is the best player in the draft," Bryant tweeted. "You can say whatever you want about him #gamechanger."
The player Bryant mentioned is, obviously, Mathieu, the polarizing cornerback from LSU that created a total of 14 turnovers and scored four touchdowns in just two years. His 11 forced fumbles are a school record.
Mathieu, Claiborne and Eric Reid helped lead one of the best defenses in the nation when they played together for a final time in 2011. Claiborne, who got a call from Reid on Thursday afternoon, knows what the safety is going through as a potential first-round selection and was happy to offer advice to another former Tiger he believes in.
"The type of person that these guys are off the field, especially with Eric, he's a great guy, great father to his daughter," Claiborne said. "He loves to play the game of football, very smart and intelligent."
It's possible Mathieu isn't even on the Cowboys' draft board because of his off-field issues. But it's also possible he becomes a mid-round steal for a team willing to take a chance.
As for the first round, the Cowboys could go a variety of ways. If Alabama guard Chance Warmack is on the board, Claiborne wouldn't mind that decision.
"That pick would be great," he said. "Any guy coming from the SEC, you've pretty much played on a (minor) NFL team. Playing under Nick (Saban), I know that guy got good coaching there."