When a team brings in a wide receiver with a 2nd round pick in the NFL Draft, it doesn’t hurt when the player is the first cousin of Hall of Famer Jerry Rice. When it comes to the newest member of the Eagles, Vanderbilt’s Jordan Matthews, it also helps being an impressive physical specimen and the most productive receiver in college football’s toughest conference.
The Eagles addressed one of their deficiencies on offense in a big way by jumping up in the 2nd round to take Matthews at 42. By giving up their 4th round pick, Philadelphia ensured they would attain the services of one of the top players in a loaded wide receiver class. After Mike Evans, Sammy Watkins, and Odell Beckham Jr; the remaining players all had attractive traits to bring to the table. In Matthews, the Eagles are adding a tall, fast, strong player with supreme confidence and a strong student of the game.
After ending their relationship with DeSean Jackson and Jason Avant, a player who could immediately step in and make the opposing defense uncomfortable in the passing game was a must for the Eagles. From a production standpoint on a team where he was the primary option and opponent’s focal point, Matthews’ was perhaps more impressive than some of the players taken ahead of him. Matthews’ new head coach had some insight on what attracted the Vanderbilt Commodore to him.
“The one thing he can do is catch the ball in traffic,” Kelly said. “He made an unbelievable amount of contested catches. It’s huge. A lot of times when you’re looking at guys, it’s apples and oranges. This guy was productive and had X amount of catches, but who’s covering him? He saw a lot more man than a lot of guys because in that conference there’s a lot of man. It’s a defensive conference with some great football teams and great coaches.
Kelly gushed over Matthews in his entire post-selection availability. From the sounds of it, the entire Eagles organization was extremely high on Matthews from their attendance at the Vanderbilt pro day and, after Marqise Lee was selected by the Jaguars, Philadelphia ramped up the aggression to get their other desired player. Another interesting note of how Matthews will be used for the Eagles is where he will lineup in the Eagles base offense. More from the head coach
“We’ll start him inside. He’s got the speed to play on the outside and he’s got the size. He can do a lot of different things we can do, but the intangible things that Jason Avant brought to the slot — being physical, being able to block — I think he can do that along with exploit man coverage.”
Interestingly enough, while most teams prefer smaller, shiftier options out of the slot; it appears the Eagles want to use Matthews size and speed as a matchup issue for linebackers and safeties in the slot. His versatility (being able to play on the outside) makes him an intriguing option for the future as well. We’ll have more reaction from Section215.com later on as the draft continues. In the meantime, here is a highlight video courtesy of Harris Highlights:
Tough to find any issue with that.