Tyrann Mathieu could barely get the words out, the sobs and tears muffling his voice through the telephone.
‘‘I know I'm on the right track,’’ he said.
The Arizona Cardinals seem to think so.
After relatively safe choices in the first two rounds of the NFL draft, the Cardinals took a chance in the third Friday by taking Mathieu, the talented-but-troubled safety from LSU.
Based on their own evaluations and the word of their Pro Bowl cornerback Patrick Peterson, Mathieu’s former LSU teammate and one of his closest friends, the Cardinals used the 69th overall pick to take the player affectionately known as the Honey Badger.
‘‘He impressed me so much in my office one on one, knowing at this point in time what he needs to do in his life,’’ Cardinals first-year coach Bruce Arians said. ‘‘I was really taken aback a little bit. He knows what his problems are, he knows what he has done to himself, but he also knows that someone will give him a chance, that he knows what he needs to make sure he succeeds.’’
Once considered a Heisman Trophy front-runner and sure-bet first-rounder, Mathieu became a risky choice for NFL teams after a string of off-the-field incidents put his character in question.
A Heisman Trophy finalist in 2011, Mathieu was kicked off the team by coach Les Miles in preseason camp last August for failing multiple drug tests and did not play in 2012.
Mathieu was arrested less than two months later with three former teammates after police found 10 bags of marijuana and drug paraphernalia in his Baton Rouge apartment.
Milliner gets cheers
Dee Milliner experienced something Thursday night foreign to many recent New York Jets draft picks: He was cheered as he entered the NFL. Milliner, a cornerback from the University of Alabama, was taken by the Jets with the No. 9 pick. Jets fans have a long history of booing their team’s choices . . . The Jets also made a move to bolster their rushing attack, acquiring running back Chris Ivory from New Orleans for their fourth-round selection . . . The Dolphins traded wide receiver Davone Bess to the Browns. The Browns parted with their fourth- and fifth-round picks, while Miami gave up a fourth- and seventh-round pick.
RB finally goes
The Bengals made North Carolina’s Giovani Bernard the first running back selected when they picked him 37th overall. Bernard will complement BenJarvus Green-Ellis, who is more of a straight-ahead runner. The Bengals also reached agreement with right tackle Andre Smith on a new contract, the final step toward bringing back their offense intact from last season. Smith had been an unrestricted free agent. He says the team changed its offer, and he decided it was time to make a decision. He accepted a three-year deal, reportedly worth $18 million . . . The Vikings on Thursday became the first team since the Rams in 2001 to grab three players in the first round. They selected Florida defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd 23d, Florida State cornerback Xavier Rhodes 25th, and Tennessee receiver Cordarrelle Patterson 29th.
NFL to donate
The National Football League is donating $100,000 to One Fund Boston to help victims of the Boston Marathon bombings. Patriots owner Bob Kraft and his family have pledged to match donations up to $100,000 and announced that $617,000 has been raised so far.
Simon faces charges
Former LSU cornerback and draft prospect Tharold Simon is facing possible charges in his hometown of Eunice, La., after being arrested for his alleged treatment of a police officer who ordered Simon to move his parked car out of the street. Simon’s agent, Peter Schaffer, disputes police accounts and said that the officer overreacted in a ‘‘shameful’’ abuse of power. Simon was released on bond on the eve of what city officials had intended to proclaim ‘‘Tharold Simon Day’’ in Eunice. Simon is widely projected as a middle-round draft choice . . . A man who pled guilty to trying to extort $15,000 from former Steelers receiver Hines Ward will spend two years on probation. Joshua Van Auker, 26, pleaded guilty Tuesday in front of an Allegheny County judge to a lesser version of the original charge of attempted theft by threatening to expose a secret.