Vanderbilt wide receiver Jordan Matthews always showed plenty of potential, but as a senior and team leader this season he took another step forward while amassing 112 catches for 1,477 yards and seven touchdowns. Matthews was his team’s biggest offensive weapon, hence the 112 receptions, but his strong hands are a big reason why he set the SEC record for career receptions with 262.
Aside from his impressive hands — one of his strongest traits — the senior wide receiver also shows a burst upon catching the ball and can often slice his way between defenders. This allowed Matthews to carry a 14.3 yards per reception average which helped greatly in his quest to record the most career receiving yards in SEC history with 3,759.
It’s clear Matthews can put up the big numbers in a power conference, but to say he deserves first-round consideration means he must also have tools that will translate to the next level. Matthews’ hands are among the best in the coming wide receiver class, and while his speed has been questioned before, on tape he looks to be one of the faster pass catchers with the ability to make big plays similar to Cleveland Browns star Josh Gordon.
Gordon and Matthews share the same height of 6-foot-3, but the 20 extra pounds on Gordon allowed him to sustain his high level of play the entire 16-game season. Matthews is a very skinny 205 pounds, and his weight should be one of the few things scouts worry about. He’s never shown a real interest in run-blocking, like many stud receivers, but he should be bigger than the majority of corners he lines up against on Sundays making this a non-factor.
As it stands now many see Matthews as a late-first or early-second round talent, but from the game tapes I’ve seen he has the playmaking ability to garner first-round attention. His strong hands will ensure he catches the majority of balls thrown his way, and if he’s able to prove he has legitimate speed at the combine it’s likely his stock will begin to rise.
Sammy Watkins remains the top receiving prospect, but after him the talent pool evens out as many of the receivers have notable weaknesses. Matthews impressed week in and week out this past season, and with a proven track record the senior wideout should be a first-round pick come May 8.