For your consideration: Jordan Matthews
My “For Your Consideration” series will focus exclusively on players I like more than the generally accepted consensus, such as that is, among draftnik types in the media. Ideally, I would have started this series earlier, but with a month before the draft, I’ll see how many of these I can write up nevertheless.
Today we’ll take a look at a wide receiver from Vanderbilt who is the all time leader in both yards and receptions in the SEC. His name is Jordan Matthews. He’s also Jerry Rice’s first cousin once removed, if you’re interested in such things. None of this is why I like him, but if you ever get hit up to answer Jordan Matthews trivia in the future, you can thank me. Now, let’s move on to the nitty-gritty.
Let’s start with the tale of the tape. Matthews comes in at 6’3″, 212 lbs, with a 33 1/4″ wingspan, and 10 3/8″ hands; he also clocked in at 4.46 in the 40-yard dash and did 21 reps on the bench press. If this doesn’t mean anything to you, I’ll cut to the chase and tell you these are all incredibly impressive measurables. That said, they are just that, measurables. The real story is in the tape. You want to see some tape, right?
I’ve selected these next few plays to demonstrate that his 4.46 combine speed unequivocally manifests on a football field: this, this, and this should do the trick. If those aren’t convincing, consider seeing your local optometrist. I love his hands, as in this play here, where the ball is slightly behind him, and how he plucks the ball in these situations. It matters how you catch the ball, and Jordan Matthews has very strong technique. He excels in toughness and maintaining control over the middle, as well.
On that last play, you can actually hear Matt Millen saying “Everyone on the defense knows where the ball is going,” and yet, other teams still can’t stop it. Important to understand in light of all the records Matthews set is how he was Vanderbilt’s first, second, and third offensive options. So far, we’ve seen a lot of over the middle catches and screen plays where he utilizes his speed. Well, when it’s 4th down & 18 with 2 minutes left and you’re behind on the scoreboard, what do you call? If you answered a deep ball to Jordan Matthews, congratulations. Here are two more deep receptions from the bowl game against Houston, since we haven’t seen as many of these plays. Matthews presents a conundrum to the defense because he can truly do everything on a football field. If you try to cover Matthews one-on-one, he can win; if you play off-man coverage on him, he can burn you deep or in the quick screen game; and if you leave space across the middle of the field, he’s not afraid to attack there. He can line up on the outside or in the slot, on both sides of the field, and he can run the entire route tree. Just for the hell of it, here’s an end around, too.
Now how about everything in one play?
- Quick release against press coverage. Check.
- Locates and plucks the ball at its highest point. Check.
- Attacks the middle. Check.
- Recognizes more yards are available and uses his speed to get them. Check.
If you need a single play to show what Jordan Matthews brings to the table, this is the one.
You can check his games out for yourself at Draft Breakdown if you’re interested in more. He doesn’t catch every ball, and he doesn’t make every play, but no one does. I’ve chosen to highlight his strengths because I don’t feel drops are an issue with him. Take my word for it or take a look yourself.
I have Matthews as the clear 3rd receiver in this class after Sammy Watkins and Mike Evans. I’m more inclined to believe he’s better than Evans than that he is the 4th-best receiver. Odell Beckham doesn’t have the size, Brandin Cooks doesn’t have the catch radius, Marqise Lee doesn’t have the advanced technique, and Kelvin Benjamin is about as raw as they come. I’d happily submit a card on draft day with his name on it in the middle of the first round.
All comments are appreciated.