In a draft that was loaded with wide receiver talent, it may just be a second round selection that tops them all — Philadelphia Eagles WR Jordan Matthews.
Just because Matthews wasn’t drafted among other prospects, such as Sammy Watkins, in the first round doesn’t mean he can’t produce more than those before him. This man is no slouch.
Matthews left Vanderbilt as the SEC all-time leader in receptions and receiving yards. For reference, that means that he outperformed the likes of fantasy stars such as A.J. Green, Randall Cobb and Alshon Jeffrey, among others — something I guess every other team took for granted.
Of course, stats aren’t the telltale signs of a great player. Teams inspect the intangibles of players rigorously, which is why it’s a shock that 31 other teams passed on the 6-foot-3 record setter of which NFL.com had to say:
“[He] concentrates, tracks and adjusts…Competes and plays with intensity. Tough and intelligent.”
To top that, Matthews was also a team captain during his four years as a Commodore, something that coach Chip Kelly certainly admires.
Kelly has always wanted the right players for his team’s morale before anything else — a wise move. That’s why he was fine with DeSean Jackson‘s departure. He wants the best locker room in the NFL, that way he can have the best team in the NFL as well. So, Matthews will certainly help out with that, but maybe his selection was actually in the grand scheme of things for quite some time, as he seems to be clicking right out the gates according to Jimmy Kempski on Twitter.
In limited media access to OTAs so far, Jordan Matthews has looked like the best WR on the team, in my opinion, and it hasn’t been close.
— Jimmy Kempski (@JimmyKempski) June 10, 2014
Matthews’ competition consists of Jeremy Maclin,whom is coming off of knee surgery, and Riley Cooper, whom has only had one bright season (due to Maclin’s 2013, season-long injury). This puts Matthews on an even keel as everyone else. His adjustment to Kelly’s college style offense shouldn’t be too much of a worry since he’s fresh out of university, and everyone else has only been working on it for a year. He’s up to speed there.
What also helps Matthews’ cause is that Maclin could very well be injured this season again — he’s prone to injuries. So, even if he only plays as a slot receiver or WR3 (though I don’t think that’s likely), he could see similar production Cooper did last season when he was the 23rd ranked WR. However, it sounds like he could jump right into the starting slot, replacing Jackson.
Returning staring QB Nick Foles loves to lock down on a single target, as Jackson saw a career high 82 receptions (20 more than his second highest total), so I fully expect Matthews to see a great deal of attention from Foles. But so I don’t get out of hand with his projection, let’s assume that Matthews will only see 65 receptions, splitting time as the first and second string receiver.
This is a highly respectable reception rate in which he could certainly see about 15 yards per reception — ranging around 950-1,000 yards. Tack on another 42 points from touchdowns, and you have rookie WR that places somewhere near the top 30 this season. Those are totals of a mid-draft selection, not one that can often be picked off waivers.
Will that be enough to be the top rookie wideout, as he has to beat the likes of Kelvin Benjamin, Mike Evans and Brandin Cooks. I think so. But why don’t you ask Matthews’ cousin, Jerry Rice, just to double check.