Scouting Report-Ryan Mathews burst on the college football scene this year. Week after week he just hammered opposing defenses even when they knew he was coming and that's part of what I love about his NFL potential. The nuts and bolts of Mathews game are pretty cut and dry. He's got ideal NFL size with good bulk and low body fat. In terms of the technical side of his game, he's a smart player with excellent vision and can stick his foot in the ground, make one cut and get up field in a hurry. He's probably more shifty than people realize, and does a nice job making guys miss in the hole, but for the most part he sees a crease and he slams it north and south. What does he do wrong? He's not much of a pass blocker and it almost looks like he doesn't put a ton of effort into blitz pickup. And it's odd to watch him as a receiver. He is a pretty natural route runner, so much so Fresno State even split him out wide on passing downs. But he doesn't have very good hands. Drops way too many catchable balls.
Draft Status-This is a pretty crowded first 3 rounds for running backs. But what they all have in common is, they all are sort of niche' type players. All do something really well, but none to it all well. Having said that Mathews is a back that you can trot out on first and second down, and in short yardage/goal line situations, and the same can't be said for all the top backs. Almost no teams operate with only one back, so a team is going to love Mathews Thunder, to another backs Lightning, and I think take him mid 2nd round.
Final Analysis-I pounded the drum for Mathews all year long. I even thought he should have gotten some Heisman consideration. He was an incredibly productive player, and went into every game knowing he'd be the focus of the other team's defense, and it didn't matter. That's what is great about his pro potential. It didn't matter how many guys they put in the box. It didn't matter how much they sold out on the run. Mathews was going to get his. Now, don't get me wrong. Mathews isn't going to break off many 80 touchdown runs, but for me, I don't care. If he can get 100 yards on 20 carries, and none of those carries are more than 5 yards, than he's moving the chains, wearing down defenses, and imposing his will. That's the kind of player I think Mathews can be. Similar to another talented young back in this draft, Stanford's Toby Gerhart, these guys lean. They lean forward and they lean on you. They aren't CJ Spiller. They aren't going to dance around you. They are going to run through you. Mathews is a smart player, with excellent vision and balance, determination and commitment, and can carry that to the NFL, will be a productive player for a very long time. There are obviously things he needs to improve, other than what I mentioned above, Mathews could stand to beef up a little more, especially in his lower body and of course could always play with better pad level. But all in all, what he can do more than makes up for what he can't.
Reminds me of-Cedric Benson, RB Cincinnati Bengals-Their style of running and even their size are really similar. Both north/south downhill types big bodies and don't produce in the passing game.
Scouting Report written by Curt Popejoy