Eagles Trade Up, Take WR Matthews At 42
Matthews (6-3, 217), a cousin of Jerry Rice, 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).
“The one thing we talk about is man coverage, and one thing that he does is he can catch the ball in traffic,” said Chip Kelly. “He made an unbelievable amount of contested catches. He’s got such a wingspan and can go up and get it, can play both inside and outside. We’re probably going to start him inside. If we’ve got Jeremy Maclin on one side and Coop [Riley Cooper] on the other side and you throw him inside, and he has experience…There were only a couple guys in the draft that we felt that you could see on film could play both inside and outside.”
The Eagles were interested in two receivers heading into Day 2: Matthews and USC’s Marqise Lee. When Lee got plucked by Jacksonville 39th overall, they accelerated their efforts to move up and grab one of their desired targets. They shipped a fourth-round pick to the Titans to move from 54 to 42 to grab Matthews, who had 112 catches for 1,477 yards and seven touchdowns as a senior. In 2012, Matthews caught 94 balls for 1,323 yards and eight scores.
Here’s how the measurables compare to other receivers:
He will drop some passes. Per Rotoworld, Matthews dropped 7.69 percent of the catchable balls thrown his way, which is slightly above average.
“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.
He said he had a great feeling leaving Philadelphia following his visit. To ensure that the meeting went well, he did his homework.
“We actually had four films from the Eagles in our office so before I even got to go meet with them for the interview, I watched a couple of those films from last year to kind of get a taste for it,” said Matthews.
“I know just from some of the game film that I watched, you definitely have to be able to go across the middle and catch balls but you also have to be able to help with the bubble screens and also blocking on the screen game,” he said. “I just have to get in, learn it, apply it to myself and be the best I can be.”
Sheil Kapadia contributed to this story.