The New York Jets’ need for a wide receiver in the first round of the draft is well known, and they would obviously like to get their hands on either Sammy Watkins, Marqise Lee or Mike Evans. However, there is a good chance that won’t be a possibility. If the Jets miss out on the top prospects, Vanderbilt receiver Jordan Matthews could be someone who is very high on their draft board.
The Jets were reportedly very impressed with Matthews at the Senior Bowl, and he is rumored to be a potential target for the team in the first round, particularly if the top receivers are gone. Matthews is a big, physical receiver who checks in at 6’3″, 209 lbs. He has the type of size the Jets want out of a No. 1 receiver and the ability to make an impact in the red zone.
Matthews was very productive at Vanderbilt, especially in his junior and senior years when he became a focal point of the offense. Matthews had 94 receptions for 1,323 yards and 8 TDs as a junior, then followed that up with 112 receptions for 1,477 yards and 7 TDs as a senior. For what’s it worth (i.e., nothing other than a trivia answer) Matthews is a distant cousin of the greatest receiver of all time, Jerry Rice.
Matthews’ game is based on his size and physicality. He is a solid route runner who is able to box out defensive backs and clear space to make the catch. Matthews has good hands, though he needs to do a better job of catching the ball away from his body. He is a threat on jump balls, an asset that would be extremely useful in upgrading the Jets’ red zone offense. Matthews’ major flaw is his speed, which is average. If he runs a solid 40 time at the combine and shows good quickness and explosiveness in positional drills, his draft stock will get a big boost.
At this point, the general consensus is that No. 18 might be a bit high to take Matthews, though if you’re sold on a player you should just take him. If the Jets miss on the big 3 at receiver, they could look to trade down and target Matthews later in the first round. In a perfect world, they’d love to land him in the second, but hoping he falls that far is a risky move. Given the reports about high the Jets are on Matthews, he is definitely a name that fans should remember. There is still a lot that has to play out, but if they can’t get a top receiver then expect the Jets to target Matthews, likely in a trade down scenario.