One of the biggest problems the Baltimore Ravens offense had in 2013 is that besides Torrey Smith (and Dennis Pitta later in the season) Joe Flacco had very few go-to guys. Undrafted rookie free agent Marlon Brown had a very solid rookie season, but I think the front office will look to give Joe Flacco more weapons to work with moving forward. My favorite candidate for this job? Jordan Matthews: the six-foot-three, 206 pound wide receiver from Vanderbilt.
It's no secret that Matthews is one of my favorite players in the draft. In fact, I have done everything short of erecting a "Draft Matthews" billboard in the Beltway to express my adoration for this young prospect. But what makes him so special?
Let me start with his hands. To put it simply, a ball coming towards Matthews has about the same chance of being caught as a cheeseburger near Rex Ryan has of being eaten. It's going to happen. (And don't give me your "oh he lost weight" baloney. Gastric bypass surgery is to weight as steroids is to muscle. Cheater.) In fact, it's almost guaranteed. So guaranteed that Matthews finished his career at Vanderbilt with the most receptions in SEC history. Not exactly a small feat in a conference with some of the "elite defenses in college football" (or so SEC fans like to claim). I also think it's worth noting that Matthews is the only receiver in SEC history to have 100 or more receptions in a season (he had 107 in 2013).
What about his route-running? Crisper than Ron Burgundy's diction. If you watch even a minimal amount of tape of Jordan Matthews one thing that will catch your eyes is how he clean his cuts are and his tremendous body control. The man is a living, breathing route tree. If you don't believe me, allow me to refer back to the fact that he owns the SEC record in receptions and receiving yards. He didn't just stumble his way into the record books. No, he obtained these records by getting solid separation and by putting himself in the right position to get the ball.
Another thing that seems to stand out to me about Matthews' game is his ability to fight for the ball. He's strong and physical enough to where he will win almost every battle for a jump ball. Now, I know it's not fair to compare a college player to a veteran in the NFL (especially a near-certain Hall-of-Famer), but when I watch Matthews play I am reminded of Reggie Wayne. Both have many of Matthews' aforementioned traits (hands, body-control, physicality, etc...)
The only knock that someone might have on Matthews is his speed. If you watch some of his film you will notice that he doesn't have the ability to burn a secondary like a Sammy Watkins or Odell Beckham. But he is fast enough to get a good release and break away if you give him an open field. If I had to guess, I'd estimate that he runs anywhere from a 4.4 to a 4.6. He's not slow but he's not going to be breaking any track records either.
What impresses me most about Matthews, however, is that he was able to accomplish so much at a lower-tier school. Vanderbilt isn't a football powerhouse by any means. They are a school that maxes out at maybe three-star recruits and play in what most would agree is the toughest conference in all of college football. Now it wouldn't be as much of a surprise if he played for maybe an Alabama or an LSU, but Vanderbilt?! Now that's pretty damn impressive. Simply said, Jordan Matthews is a man among boys.
- Most Receptions in SEC History
- Most Receiving Yards in SEC History
- Only Player in SEC History With 100+ Receptions in a Season
- All-American (2013)
- All-SEC (2012, 2013)