Welcome back to a little segment I call: "Trying to analyze a hard to predict process that is months away". Yep, that's right. Sure the Patriots divisional round game against the Colts may be tomorrow, but that does not mean I can't think about the draft. Every week I will try to introduce 1 difference maker that could help our squad. Last week we talked about UNC DE Kareem Martin, and this week we are going to look at Vanderbilt WR Jordan Matthews. If you have Any corrections, thoughts, complaints, or funny jokes please leave them in the comment section below. (And vote on the poll, because why not)
January 10: The following are the current positions of need on the Patriots roster at the moment (In tiers of importance)
Tier 1: Interior Offensive Line, Tight End
Tier 2: Pass rusher, Cornerback, Interior D-linemen, Wide Receiver
Tier 3: Quarterback, Inside Linebacker
1. Tom needs a new BFF, let's talk Jordan Matthews
So before I get into this, I wanna throw it out there that I am enamored with Jordan Matthews as a prospect. Nonetheless I will try to give an unbiased report on him. The Vanderbilt Senior is a 6'3 210 prospect, who has worked his way into the starting lineup as a true-freshman. He finished his freshman year with 12 appearances, 15 catches, 181 yards, and 4 Tds. As a sophomore, Matthews compiled 778 yards and 5 tds on 41 catches while leading the Commodores in catches and receiving yards. His most impressive performances came against #5 Arkansas and Florida, when he recorded 6-151-1 and 9-170-1. Matthews finished his junior year with 94 catches, 1323 Yards, and 7 Tds. He was named 3rd team all america, and a unanimous choice for the First Team SEC. His senior season, Matthews finished the year with 112 catches, 1477 yards, and 7 Tds. He was voted First Team All America, and was an All-SEC WR.
Matthews does not have the highest ceiling of a Sammy Watkins, but I believe he has the highest floor out of any WR in this draft class. Matthews skill set projects him to be a 1st day starter in the NFL. He excels at route running, and using his hands to pluck the ball out of the air. Matthews can line up all over the field, whether on the inside or the outside. He has the ability to understand a route tree, and uses crisp technique while rarely rounding off his routes. Matthews has also been competing against the best competition in college football all 4 years, while playing with under-talented Qbs. He has always excelled against the top competition, such as Georgia or Florida. Matthews has been a productive receiver against good competition almost his whole career. But, there are some downsides to Matthews game. He is not overly athletic, which could prove to be his downfall when it comes to draft stock. But, he has a knack for getting open and using his size to his advantage. He will not run a blazing forty or wow at the combine, but will impress in the film room. While I do not know Jordan Matthews, everything I have heard about his work ethic and passion for the game has been great. He is described to be a leader and example on and off the field, with a good attitude and tough mentality. My favorite coach in FBS college football, James Franklin, has coached Jordan Matthews and helped him grow. Franklin's players are usually tough and have a good work ethic, and they surely will miss him if the rumors about Franklin to Penn St. are true. Just as a quick and recent example of the type of player you are getting with Matthews, Senior Bowl Direct Phil Savage said the Matthews asked for a list of the CB's who would be attending the Senior bowl and their game tapes. Here is a link to Draft Breakdown's page on Matthews.
When it comes to the draft, the Patriots have many needs. The trio of Dobson, Thompkins, and Boyce all showed promise but no consistency their rookie years. With the possibility of a Edelman departure in free agency (and even without it), there remains a need to add a receiver in the draft. There are only two WR's who I would advocate for the Patriots to draft in the first 2 rounds of the draft. Those two being Jordan Matthews and Jarvis Landry (We will get to him another time). Jordan Matthews can come in from day one and add some consistency to an inconsistent WR position. I think he has the ability to start early in his career because of his solid fundamentals and versatility on the playing field, as well for his knowledge of the game. I hate to make predictions, but Matthews is the kind of guy that plays in the league for 13 years because Qbs will be able to rely on him.
At the moment, Matthews draft stock ranges from the late first round to mid second round. Unfortunately for him, his stock will probably go down because of the amount of talented underclassmen entering the draft. Many of these players have higher ceilings than Matthews, and most of them will post better numbers at the Combine. But I believe that if Dline prospects line Stephon Tuitt and Ra'Shede Hageman are off the board, it would be wise to trade down into the early second round and nab Matthews while picking up an extra selection or two.
Pros: Size, Route Running, Hands, Smarts, Work Ethic, Production, Level of Competition, Versatility, Experience
Cons: Athleticism, CIT
Pro Player Comparison: Jordy Nelson (Comparable Traits: Dependability, Hands, Route Running, Versatility)
Weekly Mock Draft
1: Jordan Matthews WR Vanderbilt
2: Bradley Robey CB Ohio St.
3: Dominique Easley DL Florida
4: Arthur Lynch TE Georgia
6: Joel Bitonio OL Nevada
6: Christian Kerksey LB Iowa
7: Ted Bolser TE Indiana