If the New York Giants decide to let Hakeem Nicks leave via free agency they will be asking Rueben Randle to take the next step forward. However, the Giants would be wise to add some competition through free agency or the 2014 NFL Draft. There are several intriguing prospects who could be available when the Giants select with the 12th overall pick. However, they need to address other areas and can find a wide receiver who can contribute in the later rounds.
One of those receivers could be Vanderbilt senior Jordan Matthews. Matthews has done nothing but produce over the last two seasons. In 2012, he caught 94 balls for 1323 yards and eight touchdowns. Last season, Matthews caught 112 passes for 1477 yards and seven touchdowns.
Matthews has good size at 6-foot-3 and just over 200 pounds. He has an outstanding pedigree as he is a cousin of Jerry Rice. Yes, that Jerry Rice. He is also the kind of player who the Giants like, tall, intelligent and with a solid track record. While GM Jerry Reese will take a risk on a player every now and then Matthews is far from a liability off the field.
Despite the outstanding production over the last two years of his collegiate career, Matthews does have a lot of work to do, specifically with his hands. He needs to use his body less and his hands more in an effort to be more fluid in his catches. He also lacks breakaway speed but can create separation with defensive backs using his size and stride. He lacks the big play ability of Nicks but he could easily replace his production. Randle should emerge as Nicks’ ultimate replacement in that department but Matthews could be a very nice addition to the Giants’ receiving corps.
Where Matthews does excel is he can be a physical receiver and should be a threat for Eli Manning in the red zone. He is also a willing blocker who isn’t afraid to take on defensive backs one-on-one and can win battles in that arena, something the Giants have really missed since Plaxico Burress forgot how to use a gun properly.
There are better wide receiver prospects in this draft but Matthews is a solid prospect who could emerge as a very good number two receiver in the NFL and perhaps, with some work on his hands and catching, as a number one. That might be asking too much but Matthews wouldn’t need to be a number one with the Giants. He would be an excellent complimentary receiver with Victor Cruz and Randle. Matthews should be around in the second and third rounds. I would be shocked if he went before the Giants selected in the second round.