Tyrann Mathieu no longer wishes to be called the Honey Badger, and one of his primary goals was shaking the somewhat villain persona this week at the combine.

When asked if he had made a change for the better this week, Mathieu said he had.

“I think at LSU, the Honey Badger (person) came to an abrupt end,” Mathieu said. “I definitely want to do it the right way this time.

“I’ve been to rehab. I’ve been to counseling. I have a sponsor,” he said. “I’m surrounding myself with people who want to do what I want to do, which is be a football player. To go back down that road? Not a chance in this world. Not a chance in this lifetime. I’ve got to be the best person that Tyrann can be.”

Upon entering the combine, attention surrounded not only Mathieu’s attitude and past troubles, but several questioned his speed with the year absence.

He answered those questions today posting 4.43 unofficial time in the 40 in his first run. His second time was 4.50, and while it wasn’t as good as potential top overall corner Dee Milliner’s 4.31, he answered speed doubters with his 40.

Although playing corner in the NFL isn’t all about speed, much of it has to do with having great instincts.  Mathieu isn’t a lockdown corner by any stretch, but no one in 2011 had better instincts and play-making ability.  And he’s more likely to play a nickel corner-type role in the NFL. We could eventually see him make a move to safety, although he lacks overall size to play the position.

Not only did he have a top 40, but Mathieu looked good going up and making a play during drills, too. He does lack overall strength, though, as he just benched 225 four times, tying a combine low for the position.

Mathieu’s biggest asset at LSU was making big plays during crunch time. Who can forget about the punt return touchdown in the 2011 SEC Championship that flipped all momentum and sparked an onslaught, or the crazy INT against West Virginia in which he tipped the pass to himself and nearly took it back for a touchdown?

While Mathieu is a high-risk pick for any team in the draft, he could deliver high-reward results if he has truly turned the corner.

Photo Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports