Jordan Matthews has proven to be both very talented and productive during his time at the University of Vanderbilt. Matthews, a four-year player, showed his coaching staff he was a very dependable wide receiver as a sophomore when he gained 778 yards and five touchdowns on 41 receptions. In his junior year he nearly doubled those numbers as he amassed 1,323 yards and 8 touchdowns on 94 receptions. As a senior he was able to improve upon those numbers recording 1,477 yards and 7 touchdowns on 112 receptions. Only two receivers in Division One college football accounted for more yardage than Matthews in Brandin Cooks and Davante Adams.
While looking through Matthews’ collegiate numbers, they are thoroughly impressive, as is his skill-set, however; there are aspects of his game that give me pause. At six-foot-three, 212 Lbs. Matthews runs 4.46 in the 40-yard dash and has superb hands. While he is quite the physical specimen, Matthews checks in as my sixth-best wide receiver in the 2014 NFL draft. Many NFL draft publications have him rated higher than I do, but there are a myriad of reasons from an evaluation standpoint and five other wide receiver prospects that preclude me from rating him as high as others have. Below I will list the top-five wide receivers in the 2014 NFL draft class followed by Matthews’ strengths and weaknesses.
I’ve seen scathing reports about Matthews having some “diva” in him, however that’s not what I hear from those a little closer to the situation. Eager to put the bullying scandal behind them as well as add talent at the wide receiver position. The hardworking, sure-handed, precision route running of Matthews makes sense for the Dolphins.
Colston is no longer a spring chicken but he is a larger receiver that could teach Matthews a great deal as far as getting a clean release off the line of scrimmage and getting into his routes quickly. The Saints seem to have a way with cultivating talent at the wide receiver position and I believe he would be a tremendous fit in New Orleans.
As a Browns fan I must admit, I want to see a more explosive weapon opposite of Josh Gordon more so along the lines of a Brandin Cooks, but I digress. For the right price, I could absolutely get on board with Matthews in Cleveland. Cleveland fans, get one thing straight; teams tilting coverage toward Gordon won’t be lining up their No. one corner against Gordon Matthews will often times draw the opposition’s No. one corner while Gordon faces the No. two corner and nickelback. Is Matthews the type of guy that can line up opposite of Gordon and make teams pay for choosing to defend them this way? There’s only one way to find out.
The Jags are building a solid young nucleus of wide receivers and Matthews would be a quality talent to add to the bunch. If Justin Blackmon can pull it together and Cecil Shorts can continue to build on the end of his 2013 campaign, Matthews could potentially give them another big body in the red-zone with a tremendous catching radius.
The wide receiver corps. is in shambles and the Raiders are thirsty for help at the position. Streater and Moore have are solid players and I also like Brice Butler’s potential. However, Criner (who’s got excellent hands by the way), Jared Green, Andre Holmes and others don’t necessarily inspire me. Matthews would go a long way toward bolstering that group.
As was the case with former Buckeye Brian Robiskie in the 2009 NFL draft, Matthews has been labeled the most NFL-ready wide receiver in the 2014 NFL draft. Given his refined route-running ability, superb hands and willingness to compete as a blocker, many would argue that he’s as complete as they come. Matthews has produced at a high level since the onset of his collegiate career and it would behoove me to believe that his stellar play will endure the rigors of the NFL.
I like Matthews more than the vast majority of wide receivers that have declared for the 2014 NFL draft; however Matthews has received a late second-round grade from me. Though he went to the combine and was able to time well, Matthews has difficulty separating and is going to have to learn to beat press-man coverage more quickly. It’s a pressure league and quarterbacks rely on their receivers to present them a target in less than three seconds. The last thing a quarterback needs is for the opposing cornerback to walk up on his receiver and throw off timing by merely jamming him at the line of scrimmage.
Not only is Matthews unproven against press-man coverage, he didn’t look very comfortable in the limited sample size I’ve seen of him going up against it. There is nothing wrong with being a fan of the positive attributes that Matthews brings to the table, but buyer should beware, especially when considering drafting him upwards of round two.