Late in the draft teams are usually looking for two things in a prospect. One is great upside that the could develop and potentially turn into a great player a few years down the line. The other is guy who can lay a specific role for the team.
Mitch Mathews falls into the second category. He might never play a pro bowler or even a the best receiver on his team, but he brings a specific skill set that NFL teams will want to get their hands on in the later parts of day three.
Pro day workout
40 yard dash – 4.49
Bench press – 12 reps of 225 lbs
Vertical jump – 36 inches
Mathews is tall, really tall. His 6’6 size instantly makes him a tough guy to match up with in the red zone. On top of his great size, Mathews can also go up and get it. Even if he were just average height he would still be able to out jump a lot of defenders and come down with the ball.
It this skill set that makes him a dangerous red zone threat.
More than just a big tall WR, Mathews has good body control and hand eye coordination. He can tap his toes in bounds while falling backwards or adjust to poorly thrown balls and makes improbable catches even when the defender has better position. You don’t see a lot of guys who are this big and this fluid in one package.
Mathews was a special teams gunner at BYU. He used his sub 4.5 speed to race down the field and make plays in kick coverage. He also showed the ability to use his length and body control in keeping the ball from bouncing into the end zone, resulting in a touchback. Special team ability adds significant value.
Mathews has some pretty good speed, but it takes him a while to build up to it. His acceleration leaves a lot to be desired and will have trouble creating separation because of that. He’s also not a guy who will make anyone miss. Despite smooth body control, Mathews is not elusive. Another reason he will have a hard time finding success outside of the red zone.
Mathews is already 25 years old, making him one of the oldest prospects in this class. Based on his athleticism his upside was already pretty limited, but in already being in the prime of his football career it’s unlikely that he ever gets much better as a player.
I really like Mathews as a depth red zone target and a special teams player. He has a defined, albeit limited, role and I’m confident that he will find his way onto an NFL roster. I’d be surprised if he ever has more than 500 yards in a season, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him catch eight touchdowns.
He may only be on the field for ten plays a game, but there’s a good chance they are all impact plays in one way or another.