INDIANAPOLIS – Last year at the NFL Scouting Combine, cornerback Janoris Jenkins stood behind a podium in front of the media and was completely honest about the problems he had with marijuana that led to his dismissal from the University of Florida football team.
Jenkins was truthful with both the media and the clubs about his off-the-field issues. He then went out and put together a good workout at the 2012 Combine, which he parlayed into a second-round selection by the St. Louis Rams and had an impact rookie season.
Fast forward one year and cornerback Tyrann Mathieu was at a similar podium taking responsibility for the same issues with marijuana that got him thrown off the LSU football team before this season.
"My best friend right now is honesty," Mathieu said. "I want to be as open as possible because I'm trying to rebuild my trust. I want those guys to be able to trust me and I hold myself accountable."
Mathieu was dismissed from LSU in August as a result of failed drug tests, according to reports. He planned on rejoining the team for the 2013 school year, but when he and three other LSU former players were arrested on possession of marijuana Oct. 25, there was no chance for a return to LSU.
Mathieu said Sunday that was the wake-up call and he hasn't touched an illegal substance since Oct. 26 of last year.
"I've done the rehabs. I've been to counseling. I have a sponsor and I'm surrounding myself around people who do what I want to do, and that's being a professional football player," said Mathieu, who was woken up at 4 a.m. Sunday morning to take a drug test at the Combine.
His support staff includes current NFL players Patrick Peterson, Darrelle Revis, Morris Claiborne and Corey Webster.
Mathieu realizes his actions have cost him millions of dollars. Before he was dismissed from LSU, he was considered a Heisman Trophy candidate as one of the best defensive playmakers in the college game.
Teams evaluating Mathieu will now have to weigh the off-the-field issues with his short stature (just under 5-foot-9), and the fact that he hasn't played football in a year.
"I like him," said NFL analyst Mike Mayock of Mathieu. "He's a better football player than he is an athlete. He's short and he's probably speed-deficient, which is not a good combination. But what I think he is is a hell of a football player.
"He's a slot defender, a nickel-type guy with return skills. How he handles, not the public meetings because I would expect him to say all of the right things, but how he handles things privately with all of the teams and whether they buy into him or not are the most important issues."
Which round fits the risk with Mathieu? It's a risk the Lions probably aren't willing to take after their recent troubles with character concerns and off-the-field issues.
"I know what it's like not to have football," Mathieu told reporters. "I know what it's like to be humiliated and to go back down that road – not a chance in my lifetime again."