Draft Daily: WR Matthews a Day 2 Option

NCAA Football: Compass Bowl-Vanderbilt vs Houston

Jordan Matthews is 6-3 and ran a 4.46 at the combine.

He played in the SEC and finished his college career as the conference’s all-time leader in receptions (262) and receiving yards (3,759). Yet somehow, when discussing the top pass-catchers in the 2014 draft, the Vanderbilt product seems to often get left out of the conversation.

“Hey, there is nothing wrong with being under the radar,” Matthews told reporters at the combine in February. “At the end of the day I only compete with myself. The radar that I worry about is the one that Jordan Matthews is worried about. As long as I go each day and am trying to be the best player that I can be, then I feel like that is going to help me the most. As far as radars and projections and all those things are concerned, I really don’t pay that much attention. I just have to make sure I can be the best player I can be each day.”

In addition to his height (and the fact that he already has mastered the art of speaking in the third person), Matthews is long. He has 33 1/4-inch arms and giant hands (10 3/8 inches).

Here’s how the measurables compare to other receivers:

You can see the size/speed combination is there with Matthews. And so is the production. As a senior, he had 112 catches for 1,477 yards and seven touchdowns. In 2012, Matthews caught 94 balls for 1,323 yards and eight scores.

It’s worth noting that some of the numbers are tied to scheme. Per Rotoworld, 45.93 percent of Matthews’ catches came on screens. But he averaged 7.8 yards per catch, second in the class.

Looking at his production from last year, I was impressed. Matthews’ straight-line speed shows up on the field. He’s good on screens, can track the ball well on downfield throws and makes catches over the middle. As is the case with many of the receivers in this class, he has the versatility to play inside or outside.

Let’s start with the screen game and a play from last season against Houston.

This concept should look familiar to you. The Eagles go to WR screens often – either when they have a numbers advantage on the perimeter or when opposing DBs are in off coverage.

Matthews gets a good block, but take note of his acceleration. He speeds down the sideline for a 50-yard touchdown.

Here’s another one against Ole Miss:

Same idea. He gets a good block, but the speed is there. He leaves defenders in the dust and scampers down the sideline.

Matthews showed the ability to get open downfield too.

Here, against Houston, he lines up on the outside, runs the 9-route (fade) down the sideline, creates separation and does a fantastic job of tracking the ball down. Those big hands come in handy as well.

In some ways, Matthews projects as “rich man’s” Riley Cooper. Both guys are 6-3, can track the ball downfield and make plays on WR screens. Like Cooper, Matthews is a willing blocker in the run game. He is 10 pounds lighter than Cooper was coming out of college, but also has better straight-line speed. And neither is especially shifty or quick in short areas.

What makes Matthews’ ceiling higher is that he can make plays after the catch. Here’s an example:

Matthews runs a slant and does a really nice job of running away from defenders for extra yardage.

Against Ole Miss, he finds a hole in the zone, flashes good hands and heads upfield.

Earlier we mentioned versatility. Below, Matthews lines up inside, makes the grab and takes a hit.

Matthews does a good job in traffic and when defenders are closing in. Another example against Ole Miss:

He will drop some passes. Per Rotoworld, Matthews dropped 7.69 percent of the catchable balls thrown his way, which is slightly above average. And as I mentioned above, he is not especially elusive. I didn’t see Matthews in many jump-ball situations, and he didn’t show the strength to run through guys or break a lot of tackles.

But as shown in the clips above, there’s a lot to like. The intangibles seem good too.

“Everyone was worried about his speed, and some wonder whether he’s going to be just a possession receiver,” wrote NFL.com’s Gil Brandt. “What I know about Matthews is that he’s one of the hardest-working prospects out there. He’s the guy who, whenever he stops playing football, will be a hugely successful person, whether it’s as a politician or a banker or an entrepreneur. He’s a really special guy.”

Matthews graduated from Vanderbilt with an economics degree in three-and-a-half years. He was also a team captain as a senior.

Given the talent in this year’s wide receiver class, it’s unlikely that Matthews goes before the second round. But if he’s on the board at Nos. 54 or 86 on Day 2, expect Matthews to get strong consideration from the Eagles.

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  • PaoliBulldog

    I’d love Matthews at 54. Don’t expect him to be on the board at 86.

    • dislikedisqus

      There are much better options at 54. Look at that spider chart, it’s mediocre excpt as to size. The Riley C analogy was a good one. Not before 86.

      • Bdawkbdawk

        Take a look at Josh Gordon’s spider chart. It will surprise you. Spider charts do not tell much of the story.

      • Elliptical Man

        What spider chart are you looking at? He’s got size, straight line speed, and strength.
        He was very productive in a legit conference. He’s intelligent and a team leader.

        • anon

          can’t run routes, not good changing direction so no shiftyness. Most of what he’s done is catch screens so not even a lot of experience route running. The fact that he’s got tons of yds says more about quality blocking than it is his skill at “wr”.

          • Corey Dawson

            Yeah, those screens were more highlights for his blocker than anything else. All Mathews had to do was catch the ball in the flat and take off.

          • Amar (India)

            How can you be a good screen pass catcher with 7.8 YAC and not be shifty ? You can’t attribute all the yards to his blockers.

        • dislikedisqus

          He is top quartile only on height, hand size & bench press. The last is not enormously relevant. On jumping, just average. On speed, 72nd percentile. On shuttle drills, well below average.
          Compare Jeff Janis of Sag Valley for instance.

          I understand spider charts are not the whole story. Marquis Lee’s is worse. But the Riley Cooper analogy remains pretty clear. Look, if they go D in rounds 1&2, they could get him in round 3, but that is as high as another Riley Cooper should be slotted.

  • Will

    Hope they draft him….

  • anon

    Nice job. This article definitely makes me like him more as a prospect. Drops are a concern – but the intangibles make me think he’s a chip-style guy. Smart people play fast.

    The lack of shiftiness sort of worries me — can he run routes, can he run in traffic? We do a lot of stuff over the middle. I think teams are really focused on the bubble screen game so if that’s where half of his passes came from i don’t think its very helpful when you talk about guys being lined up interchangeably all over the field, option routes, timing routes, etc.

    Lately, i’ve been hearing about this guy from LSU. He’s small with little “out of game” athleticism. But according to the tape he’s money apparently he led the Tigers, in catches, yards and TDs last year. Anyone else heard of him? His name is escaping me.

    • Will

      Odell Beckham-LSU….

    • George

      jarvis landry??

  • EagleDuck

    Holds a meaningful degree, was a Team Captain AND can play football really well. If they can only stop the third-person speak…

    • Neanderthal

      And the first two mean diddly squat if he can do the third well enough

      • EagleDuck

        I’m sure many people agree with that. I don’t, and I’m honestly not too sure the Eagles feel that way anymore either. Seems like they want ‘good citizens’ as well as good ball players (here come the Cooper comments).

        • Neanderthal

          Should have said. First two mean diddly squat if he can not do the the third very well.

    • Johnny Domino

      I don’t know, Johnny Domino thinks Jordan Matthews shows some promise.

  • Uncle Wonder

    So…lemme ask this. Who are some players that are so good that if they fell, we would have to draft in the 1st, whether or not they fit a foreseeable need? Ppl on the board have overwhelmingly panned the idea of going QB in the 1st regardless of who may drop, but what about other positions?

    For example, if somebody like Ebron, Gilbert/Dennard, Robinson, or Donald drops to 22, I think they shld run to the podium immediately and pull the trigger. If we didnt wanna hold onto them I’m sure we wld get all kinda trade back offers.

    • anon

      I’m sure we’d take Ebron, Evans, i don’t know about a CB — seems like that position has a lot of raw talent available later in the draft + i don’t think any of those guys would start right away. I actually think a better strategy there would be to move back.

      • Uncle Wonder

        The names themselves are up to opinion…are there any players on your board who dont fit a need who you wld take in the 1st if they fell? There is raw talent across the board but there are 29 other teams picking as well. No guarantee you can ever get your target unless you trade up.

    • Tom w

      Bpa Clowney Robinson Watkins Mack Matthews Evans lewan Barr Ebron Gilbert are the easy ones. Mosley haha Donald Pryor are tougher calls but ultimately ones I don’t think we make if we can trade down Mosley injury concerns Donald scheme fit and short and the two safeties arguably aren’t first rd talents in a deep draft

  • Tom w

    Good player but don’t think he does anything great or really has any upside. Reminds me of a Poormans Marques Colston. Not good enough to beat corners outside so he plays the big slot role to beat smaller corners w his size. Creates little separation from man coverage and doesn’t really have a ton of rac after interim date catches bc he isn’t shifty or quick. I think some west coast team will like him …. Think we want more upside and speed like latimer, moncrief, Bryant Benjamin etx

    • Javi Echie

      So do you really just throw production aside for upside?

      • Tom w

        He played for four years on a bad team that was getting blown out most of the time. Half his catches were screens. More than half his production was in second half of blowouts And college production does not equate to production in nfl. Good player just don’t think eagles even have him on their board bc he isn’t very fast or physical and his vertical and broad jump sucked. Watch the tape he is a possession wr w soso hands.

    • James Adair

      Actually he plays a lot like Mike Quick.

  • Glenn

    If they draft defense in the first round, Matthews is a great option in the second round. 54 is a little high, but maybe they can move up from 86, or down from 54.

  • jkidd49

    i’d take Matthews over Benjamin any day of the week…

    • Kev_H

      I agree. I haven’t seen much of Benjamin and have seen Matthews, but straight up catch and yard numbers would concern my about Benjamin compared to a guy like Matthews. The commentary on one of those clips says it all. Everyone knew Matthews was the target for a first down and he couldn’t be stopped. Putting up consistent, big numbers in the SEC when everyone is gunning for you says a lot about potential NFL success to me.

    • dislikedisqus

      Yes. Benjamin’s spider chart is a postage stamp.

  • PaoliBulldog

    Size, speed, long arms, big hands. The anti-DJax personality. SEC’s all time leader in catches and yards. Looks good to me.

    And Kiper mocks him at #30. End of argument.

    • Javi Echie

      Not to mention that supposedly he’s a high character good kid which chip loves and hey he’s jerry rice’s cousin so that has to count for something right lol

  • Stuart Philp

    That Cody Prewitt kid, S #25 from Ole Miss, can run, hit, and had 6 picks last year (plus quite a few drops). Looks like he takes some bad angles occasionally, but with another season he could be the top FS in 2015’s draft.

  • eaglefansocal

    What are Matthews combine numbers compared to Jacksons? Seems like he could be a little similar to Jackson, but with a lot more size to be more effective in the red zone. I know he is not as fast as Jackson, but his speed is still very good. I think his RAC capability is at least equal with Jackson. If they can get him at 54 or maybe even drop back a few picks and still get him with an extra 4th or 5th round pick that would be great.

    • Maggie

      Why on earth are you making comparisons to DJax?? One has nothing to do with the other. Jaccson is a WR for the Washington team. Matthews is a rookie WR just coming from university, WITH his degree, who reuses to compare himself to anybody.

  • peteike

    That last highlight he takes a hit there, love that. Willing to go get a ball with a guy flying into him, shows some toughness. Also nice speed on some of those plays, a bit slender but that can be helped.

  • Bullwinkle

    Well done article, as usual. We can see how his size and huge mitts make a difference. He takes big hits and holds onto the ball. His good speed & acceleration does show. He may not be a home run threat like DJ, but he will keep the chains moving. Also, he will block better than DJ. Maybe not having a major home run threat is better in some ways in that moving incrementally down the field increases the Eagle’s time of possession and keeps the D on the bench. Finally, intelligence, character, and leadership make a team better.

  • Maggie

    Any player who comes up for individual discussion has positives and negatives. Some on this board will immediately grab hold of the negatives and denounce the player as not good enough. Folks, nobody in the draft is perfect.

    • peteike

      or get over excited about the positives and our favorite “potential” so tis what tis

  • Stuart Philp

    He reminds me of a faster anquan boldin. His size, physicality, hands, etc. His routes look good, generally makes the catch. Only concerns are his elusiveness, which is less important for a bigger guy, and vertical. Anyone see clips of him going up for jump balls?

    • Stuart Philp

      Looks a little lazy blocking sometimes too

  • Kev_H

    I’m surprised to not see the term “catch radius” above. Jordan Matthews will be a successful pro and definitely fits the whole package as far as the type of player Kelly is after. If the Eagles pick one WR and it’s Matthews, I’ll be happy about it.

  • Corey Dawson

    We were talking about hands yesterday and about consistantly making the tough catches. This is what I’m talking about. I could blieve top 5 hands for this guy.

    • Tom w

      He actually drops a fair amount. Hands aren’t great like a Beckham or Landry or latimer

      • anon

        Yeah they mentioned in the article but people only want to believe the highlights. How can you have so many drops when half your passes are screens?

        • Inside Zone Read

          I think Greg Peshek’s article on Rotoworld that Sheil mentions may have planted a seed of doubt about Jordan Matthews’ hands when they are of little concern. Here are some notable NFL WRs with higher drop rates than Matthews (7.69%) in 2013, calculated by Pro Football Focus:

          Greg Little – 16.33%
          Vincent Jackson – 13.33%
          Steve Johnson – 13.33%
          Cecil Shorts – 13.16%
          Mike Wallace – 13.10%
          Brandon Marshall – 13.04%
          Dwayne Bowe – 12.31%
          Wes Welker – 12.05%
          Roddy White – 11.27%
          Hakeem Nicks – 11.11%
          Julian Edelman – 11.02%
          Calvin Johnson – 10.64%
          Dez Bryant – 10.58%
          A.J. Green – 10.09%
          Harry Douglas – 9.57%
          Josh Gordon – 9.38%
          Demaryius Thomas – 8.91%
          Pierre Garcon – 8.87%
          Eric Decker – 8.42%
          Andre Johnson – 8.40%

          • Maggie

            A very interesting, and somewhat surprising list. Seems the more you drop, the more you get paid. :~D. The one thing a list like this doesn’t show, though, is when and where these drops occurred.

  • cliff henny

    Econ from Vandy in 3 1/2yrs is strong. guy might be too smart. don’t want a team full of Gronks, but they’re not playing Jeopardy on Sundays

    • NickS1

      No, but he and that astro-physicist guard from PSU could start doing it on weeknights.

      • cliff henny

        haha, yeah, Ureshal or something like that. got his Masters in Math in 4 yrs, plus 2 other degrees. draft him, if he busts out, Howie can put him in charge of the cap. Eagles will be undefeated springtime salary cap champs

        • NickS1

          He already built an app that manages teams’ salary cap in real time and player personnel decisions which has rendered the GM and Director of Player Personnel a thing of the past. Needless to say execs are terrified of the kid.

          • cliff henny

            why pay for an App, you and I would do sal cap for free

          • NickS1

            Fact… Hell, we already do. Just need Howie and Chip to start reading the B247 comments and listening to reason. Not like we don’t want the Chippah to get his weapons. Throw $90mil to the offense and make Davis scrap together a bunch of rookies and underappreciated vets to make a $30mil defense work, while Howie gets to carry over his $10mil. Done.

            EDIT: The bonus in this is RC is guaranteed to get to see Casey Matthews for a few more years haha

          • cliff henny

            yup! what’s so difficult? wonder if Howie take a 42yr old intern?

    • Eagles1018

      I was just about to mention the economics degree. Sure none of us care as much but it seems like the Eagles value these types of guys a lot. That intelligence can transfer to the field along with his physical tools tremendously. The more I see good WRs (thank you Sheil) the more convinced I am we should/will either pick defense at #22 or trade back for more picks.

      • cliff henny

        channeling my inner Colin Cowherd ‘smart people make smart decisions, dumb people make dumb decisions’. seems Kelly values this a lot.

  • Warhound

    Damn! That #17 can block! Know anything ’bout him? Guys?

  • http://www.corcommunity.com/ theycallmerob

    team captain? SEC defenses? smart, leader, hard worker? BIG, long arms, hands, and freak speed?

    how is this guy not born to play in Kelly’s offense. 10hrs a week on jugs and turnarounds, and this kid is going to be a monster