Wake-Up Call: Why Matthews Fits the Mold

You may have heard the story by now about how Jordan Matthews broke down four Eagles’ game tapes before heading to Philly for his official visit. Chip Kelly said he was armed with a notebook for his interview with the coaches “and came in with questions for us.” Equally impressive to Kelly was the receiver’s recall when some of his own tape came on. 

“Jordan Matthews could tell you the play that was being run before he ran it. We’d have the tape and he’d look at the screen and say, That is the Ole Miss game. I remember this. It’s 3rd and 13, here’s the play call. I ran a dig. You hit play and that’s exactly what happened,” he said. 

Howie Roseman offered this anecdote: At the Senior Bowl, Matthews was actually requesting film on the guys that he was going against, and would get up before dawn to study it.

“This guy, the level of determination he has, his work ethic, it’s going to rub off on everyone.  He can do anything he wants as a person,” said Roseman. “You leave meeting him, and he’s as impressive a guy as I’ve ever met, really.”

There was a wealth of talent at receiver in the 2014 draft class. Some say it was the deepest group ever. Choosing from such a stocked pool was largely about taste and fit. Kelly, as we’re learning, puts a heavy emphasis on character make-up and intelligence. Matthews, a team captain who graduated from Vanderbilt with an economics degree in three-and-a-half years, appears to check those boxes.

On the field, the big attraction (other than the fact that, you know, he is the SEC’s all-time leading receiver) was Matthews’ ability to beat man coverage.  Kelly explained that defenses play a ton of man against them, largely because that’s the best way to get lined up quickly in response to the up-tempo. It was a priority, then, to find receivers that could excel against that defense.

“The one thing he does is catch the ball in traffic,” said Kelly of Matthews. “He made an unbelievable amount of contested catches. You know, he’s got such a wing span and will go up and get it, and can play both inside and outside.”

The plan is to start Matthews off inside. The head coach likes the idea of having a 6-3, 217-pound wideout working in the slot.

“In a league where sometimes people put smaller guys in the slot, we wanted to put a bigger guy in there,” said Kelly. “I think that match‑up, if you’re a smaller DB is going to play in the slot and have to match up with a 217 pound guy that can run 4.46.”


The Eagles agreed to terms with Nebraska QB Taylor Martinez, whom the Birds are looking at as a defensive back or wide receiver.

A look at the team’s other free agent signings. 

A pick-by-pick review of the Eagles’ draft, courtesy of Sheil.


Mel Kiper gave the Eagles a B-plus for their draft.

I thought Jordan Matthews would have made sense at No. 22, much less 42. I love that pick. Josh Huff offers underrated after-the-catch explosiveness — he had 24 catches of 20-plus yards in 2013 — has obvious familiarity with Kelly’s methods and he’s a guy who really competes and makes contested catches. Jaylen Watkins is a good value in Round 3, and was the first Florida CB off the board in a year where they have a few decent ones. Ed Reynolds is a player I thought could have been a second-round type had he stayed at Stanford another year, but he can give the Eagles a future potential starter and really anticipates well. Taylor Hart is another guy Kelly knows well, and could help the pass rush at some point. The Smith value was iffy, but I understand it, and they did a solid job thereafter.

Jimmy Kempski on the selection of Oregon receiver Josh Huff.

As noted above, the Eagles selected former Oregon Duck Taylor Hart in the 5th round. That’s alarming. Are the Eagles taking the best players, or the players with whom Chip Kelly is most comfortable?

Maybe it’s just a coincidence, as the Eagles have implied, but if indeed Kelly is wielding his influence over the draft to select players he knows well, does that narrow the field some? Bringing in former Oregon guys who you know will buy into your system and work hard during practice is fine for the practice squad or training camp filler, but when you’re using extremely valuable draft resources for your former guys, they better be the best players available.


Plenty more to digest from the draft.