Jordan Matthews Scouting Report

Jordan Matthews, WR, Vanderbilt (6-3, 205)

A cousin of the legendary Jerry Rice, Vanderbilt’s Jordan Matthews looks highly likely to be the first senior wide receiver off the board when the 2014 draft rolls around in May. After making the surprise decision to return to school following a stellar junior season, Matthews has gone on this year to become the SEC’s all-time leader in career receiving yards (3,358) and now seems all but assured of breaking the conference’s record for career receptions too, currently sitting just three catches away from the mark set by former Commodore Earl Bennett (236).

His achievements are certainly no mean feat considering he has had to face some of college football’s premier defenses, while contending with indifferent play from under center and a lack of alternate receiving options alongside him. With quarterback Jordan Rodgers and running back Zac Stacy both having left for the NFL, some were sceptical whether Matthews would be able to replicate the production of his junior year but the senior receiver has continued to make plays despite earning triple-coverage at times, accounting for 44.4% of the team’s receptions this season. He may not receive the same media hype as the likes of Sammy Watkins or Marqise Lee, or be as talented an athlete, but Matthews is arguably just as solid a prospect as the other top wide receivers of this draft class.

Agility

Matthews is a good athlete, with the field savvy to compensate for a lack of blazing speed. He is more quick than fast but shows smooth movement skills, with the agility and balance to quickly cut and change direction. He has good body flexibility and shows the leaping and adjustment skills to make plays outside his frame and reach for the pass at its highest point. – 7/10

Matthews end zone catch

Blocking

For a wide receiver his size, Matthews isn’t quite as physical as you would like when blocking. He has the desired size to handle defensive backs and is capable of a strong punch and sustaining but needs to be more consistent to help in the running game. – 6/10

Hands

Matthews has had some issues with drops in the past due to his tendency to body catch but he has a good set of hands and tracks the ball extremely well, especially down field. He can catch away from his frame or use his body to secure the ball inside and has little trouble holding on to the ball with a defensive back draped over him. He demonstrates the hand-eye coordination to look the ball in when negotiating through a crowd of defenders and is able to adjust when his quarterback extends the play. It’s rare to see him lose focus but when he does it seems to happen more on easy balls rather than with the challenging catches. – 7.5/10

Release

Matthews lacks the explosiveness to leave defensive backs in his wake and will need to prove he can consistently beat the press at the next level. He does however show the savvy and hands to gain good separate off the snap and glides to top speed nicely, using his frame to stop himself from being rerouted. It would certainly help though if he added more strength for the NFL or pro corners will have an easier time keeping him in check. – 7/10

Route Running

Matthews runs very crisp routes, showing nice acceleration and an array of moves to set up the defender. He is capable of running a sizeable route tree, though the majority of his production in college has come off screens, slants and shallow crosses, where his quick feet and balance to cut or come back to the ball are most effective. He has frequently been moved around the offense at Vanderbilt, lining up at every receiver position and being used on end-arounds, in order to make the most of mismatches and find the soft spots in zone coverage. His deep patterns may not be quite as polished but that will never be his calling card anyway in the NFL. – 8/10

matthews end around

Catch in Traffic

Matthews is a big target who appears extremely confident working over the middle. He doesn’t flinch when defenders are closing in on him and uses his body well to shield the ball once he gets into his patterns. – 8.5/10

matthews over the middle

Speed

Matthews is not a burner but he does have that deceptive speed to make downfield plays. He builds up to top speed nicely with no wasted motions and takes long strides to compensate for a lack of explosiveness. His ‘home-run’ ability is certainly better than advertised and he can surprise a lethargic defender but likely won’t be a considered a certified deep threat at the next level. – 7/10

matthews speed

Yards after Catch

Matthews always tries to make a play after the catch, using his body well to break tackles. He is more of a bull than a cheater but has the field vision and feel for coverage to weave in and out of traffic. He is tough for any cornerback to bring down one-on-one and does a great job tightroping the sideline on deep patterns. He’s simply a very strong runner with excellent balance, spinning off tackles and turning short plays into big gains. He also briefly tried his hand as a punt returner in 2012 and may get a look there in the NFL depending on the team he lands with. – 8/10

Matthews td run

Body Control

Matthews has excellent body control to find a way through creases, make difficult sideline catches, adjust to any poor throws and high-point the ball in heavy traffic. He has the ability to contort his body in space to make some fairly spectacular receptions. – 9/10

matthews long catch

Concerns

Aside from the questions about his deep speed, there are few big concerns surrounding Matthews. He’s a diligent worker by all accounts, shows a lot of want, has great intangibles and hasn’t had any disciplinary issues in college. He’s been active in several leadership and community projects and is likely to test very well during the interview process come draft season. – 9/10

Verdict

After his breakout 2012 campaign, Matthews has shown yet further improvement during his senior season and looks to have all the makings of a complete NFL wide receiver. Versatile and having shown a flair for the big play, if he can answer some of the questions about his speed then it’s entirely plausible to suggest that he could become a legitimate number one option at the next level. – Pro Comparison: Jordy Nelson

Grade

77/100 – Late-First/Early-Second Round

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