Is Jordan Matthews the answer at Receiver?

Stacy Revere

Rounding out the "safe" picks for today, Vanderbilt WR Jordan Matthews

Jordan Matthews is one of the tougher evaluations as the receiver position. Especially when 42% of the routes you run are screens. On paper, his numbers are very good.

Measurable Matthews Average WR at the Combine
Height 6'3 6'0.88
Weight 212 201
Hands 10 3/8" 9.34
40 yard dash 4.46 4.51
Vertical 35.5 35.5
Broad Jump 120" 120"
3 Cone Drill 6.95 6.92
20 yard Shuttle 4.18 4.21

Big, fast receiver, who has flashed the ability to make a circus catch on tape. At Vanderbilt, Matthews played all over the formation, and showed he can win anywhere on the field. There are certainly areas where Matthews does a good job at.

Traits That Stand Out

  • Acceleration
  • Positioning/Shielding Defenders
  • Field Awareness
  • Catching in Traffic
When you watch Matthews get open, it's because he has that second gear. I don't believe he plays to a 4.46, but he certainly has a burst at the top of his route, and when the ball is in his hands.

Jm_medium

In the below GIF, watch #10, Matthews out runs his angle. That's where you do see the 4.46 speed.

Jm1_medium

Matthews showed very good field awareness, when he was asked to find holes in zone coverages. I mentioned he played in the slot, that might be his best position. Here, he can use his big body to shield off defenders when there is tight coverage, or give the quarterback a nice size target by making himself available and working back to the ball. Because of his acceleration, he is a good threat after the catch.

Jm2_medium

Why Matthews Isn't a Safe Pick

  • Lack of Precise Routes
  • Lets Ball get into Pads
  • Doesn't Play to Size
  • Getting Off Press Coverage
I'm not sure if it was because Matthews was involved in so many screens or not, but his route running leaves something to be desired. Which isn't something you expect from a 4th year Junior who was as productive as Matthews. Whether it was rounding his routes, not selling his break at the top of the route, or taking too many extra steps to get out of the break, Matthews really struggled to create separation in college.

Jm3_medium

Not creating separation leads to contested catches. Which leads to the biggest issue I have with Matthews. Matthews dropped 10% of his passes in 2013, which is too high for as many screens as he ran. Matthews has the frame where he should be catching the ball well away from his body, and it's something that he doesn't do. He not only waits until the last possible second to catch the ball, but he catches it with his pads as well. This allows defenders to be disruptive at the catch point, or simply allow the ball to bounce off of him for a drop.

Jm4_medium

You would like to see Matthews be more physical and play to his size. Matthews doesn't win early at the line of scrimmage, or late in the route, like a player 6'3, 212 pounds should. Against press coverage, he doesn't really use his hands, or show any willingness to beat it quickly. Instead, Matthews will either take an extra step or two and try to run around the press coverage, or look to re-engage with the defender, instead of working to create separation. There are specific tendencies of players that always stick with me. This was something I noticed the most with Matthews at the Senior Bowl. Press coverage was not his friend.

Grade/Final Thought

Multiple Pro Bowl Player, Top 10 8.5 – 9.0
Highly Productive Starter, 1st Round 8.0 – 8.4
Very Good Starter, Early 2nd Round 7.8 – 7.9
Reliable Starter, 2nd Round 7.5 – 7.7
Potential Starter in Year 2, 3rd Round 7.0 – 7.4
Backup/Spot Starter, 4th Round 6.5 – 6.9
Productive Backup, 5th Round 6.0 – 6.4
Very Good Backup/STs, 6th Round 5.5 – 5.9
Quality Backup/Good STs, 7th Round 5.0 – 5.4
Backup/STs/Project Player, 7th Round 4.5 – 4.9
Priority Free Agent w/ Limitations 4.0 – 4.4
Non-Draftable
Trait Weight Grade
Route Running 4 3
Speed 2.5 2
Hands 3 2.5
Ball Skills 3 2.3
YAC Ability 2 1.7
Effort 2 1.7
Blocking 2 1.5
Separation Skills 2 1
Awareness 2.5 2.3
Athleticism 2 1.5
Matthews grades out to a 7.02, or a fringe 3rd round talent. Because Matthews can catch the ball in traffic, has good awareness, to pair with his size & acceleration, he offers value to a team. He's not a precise route runner, struggled with drops, and is at his worst when asked to get off press coverage. Factor all of this in and his best fit might be in the slot, until he fixes these issues. As a slot receiver, he'll be able to shield off defenders, and be able to work over the middle of the field, two areas where he has no issues with.

How He Fits as a Charger

Matthews presents similar issues with the ones Vincent Brown does. He's a sudden route runner, and is best suited in a play-action offense, or an offense that is based on timing or zone concepts. Matthews isn't going to just run by you deep, despite what is 40 time says, he's not a man to man coverage beater. Matthews would be a great fit in the slot, but what the team needs is perimeter help. Someone that could be productive opposite Keenan Allen. As a rookie, I don't think Matthews is that guy. He strikes me as a player who "is what he is" and not a guy that is going to develop into a star(obviously given the situation.) I'm also not sure San Diego is in a position to have a higher draft pick develop.
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