Ended career as the SEC’s all-time leader with 262 career receptions and 3,759 receiving yards … As a senior, the Biletnikoff Award semifinalist established a new SEC record with 112 catches … His receiving yardage total of 1,477 yards in 2013 is the third highest total ever by an SEC receiver … Matthews has had a record-setting junior season for the Commodores in 2012, arguably the greatest season ever by a Vanderbilt wide receiver, until his senior year … Unanimous First Team All-SEC WR by sportswriters and coaches in 2012 and 2013 … As a sophomore in 2011, Matthews emerged to lead the team in catches and receiving yards … After posting just five catches for 63 yards and no TDs through first five games in 2011, Matthews caught fire down the stretch, reeling in 36 passes for 715 yards and five TDs … Cousin of Jerry Rice. (vucommodores.com)
What they’re saying about him:
CBSSports.com: “Chiseled frame that was more impressive than higher-profile names also at the Senior Bowl. Size/speed combination along with his hand/eye coordination and body control makes him an attractive prospect, showing the ability to make plays at all levels of the field and do damage after the catch. Balanced route-runner with a sizeable catching radius. Size allowed him to be moved inside and out in Vandy’s offense, allowing the team to find him favorable matchups. Detailed and reliable route-runner. Very good hand-eye coordination to haul in tough passes, including one-handed catches.”
NFL.com: Good length. Big zone target. Good form as a route runner. Sinks his hips and pops out of breaks. Concentrates, tracks and adjusts. Soft hands and sticky fingers. Has leaping ability to compete in the air. Opens up his stride in the clear and shows nice long speed. Good field awareness. Gives effort as a blocker. Competes and plays with intensity. Tough and intelligent. Lined up outside and inside and has punt-return experience. Team captain and four-year starter with record-setting production.
Video Analysis:Read more...(692 words + 1 image, estimated 2:46 mins reading time)
Cut-ups like this are far more telling than highlight reels. But hey, his highlights are really easy to watch. They look cool.
At the moment there are 3 “flavors” of tight ends; everyone’s favorite at the moment is chocolate and that would be the “oversized wide receiver” tight ends like Jimmy Graham or Jordan Cameron, who are players who can take the top off of a defensive secondary while posing a size match up for cornerbacks and safeties while causing speed problems for linebackers. These types of players are what the NFL craves right now and with the Seattle Seahawks winning the Super Bowl with bigger more physical corners, the most logical response would be for NFL offenses to counter with big and fast tight ends who can beat bigger corners at their own game. Strawberry would be the “move” tight end, much like Aaron Hernandez or Jordan Reed, who while aren’t the biggest or fastest have the most utility of the group, being able to operate decently as a inline tight end, out in the slot or even as a fullback in some situations (the Packers in particular love this kind of tight end). Finally, there is vanilla, the old and boring standby of inline or “complete” tight end such as Jason Witten or Todd Heap who were capable inline blockers but could also operate as a safety value for a quarterback in the short passing game. Each flavor has its own advantages and disadvantages and that’s fluctuated over time as offenses and defenses have evolved in the NFL.
When looking at the Packers under the Mike McCarthy/Ted Thompson regime, the flavors that appeal most have definitely been chocolate (Jermichael Finley, Brandon Bostick) and strawberry (Tom Crabtree, Spencer Havner, Ryan Taylor, DJ Williams) with almost no emphasis being placed on blocking. And it’s easy to see why, with Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers at the helm, plays could be extended, wide receivers got the majority of the attention on offense and running backs, outside of a couple years of Ahman Green in his prime, took a back seat to the offensive passing game. Add to that the aerial explosion that occurred starting around that time and it’s easy to see why the Packers, along with pretty much every other NFL team, starting looking at tight ends more as receivers than blockers. However, we might just start to see Mike McCarthy and Ted Thompson pick a different favorite flavor this coming draft. Read more...(1055 words + 1 image, estimated 4:13 mins reading time)
So yesterday I accidentally scheduled my Surviving Sunday post to run on Saturday. It was a brain freeze similar to what happens when Mike McCarthy calls for the fullback dive on 3rd-and-short.
Hopefully you enjoyed your Saturday edition of Surviving Sunday. Now that it actually is Sunday, here is a bonus Sunday edition of Surviving Sunday.
Packers news, notes and links
Reports surfaced on Saturday that Packers free agent cornerback Sam Shields is seeking a deal similar to the 4 years, $22.4 million contract signed by the Bears’ Tim Jennings. If that’s truly the case, then the Packers need to get this deal done ASAP. I’m guessing the overall guarantee on Shields’ deal would be bigger than Jennings’, but even if that’s true, that’s a perfectly fair deal for both sides and still leaves the Packers salary cap room to make other moves this offseason.
Might new Giants offensive coordinator and former Packers QB coach Ben McAdoo try to sign James Starks and Evan Dietrich-Smith away from the Packers? It’d be nice to keep Starks around, but with Eddie Lacy on the roster and DuJuan Harris and Jonthan Franklin returning from injury, Starks is more of a luxury than a necessity. Then again, Starks ran at turbo speed last season. Given his injury history, a part-time role is probably best for him and he sure excelled filling in for Lacy. I don’t like playing musical chairs at center, but is Dietrich-Smith worthy overpaying if another team dumps a big offer on him? I don’t think so. I’m willing to see what J.C. Tretter can do at the position.
According to a study from Rick Gosselin at the Dallas Morning News, the Packers have lost a league-high 153 games by injuries to preferred starters over the last two seasons. So what are Mike McCarthy and the Packers going to do about it? Who knows. In this interview with Jason Wilde, McCarthy vowed to figure out what’s going on and make changes. He said the same things last offseason. The most logical change at this point might be to just hire the training and medical staff from Stanford University.
If you’re still holding out hope that the Packers will sign Jarius Byrd to fix their issues at safety, this Tweet might squash that hope.
Non-Packers links and other nonsenseRead more...(482 words + 1 image, estimated 1:56 mins reading time)
Note: Relax, no need to go check your calendar – it’s not Sunday. Just a little scheduling snafu. Look for a bonus edition tomorrow, though…
I’m going straight to the Packers news and commentary this week. No time for a long intro rant or rave. There is snow to shovel. More and more snow to shovel.
By the time this winter is over, my back is going to snap in half from shoveling and Dr. Pat McKenzie will refuse to clear me in time for training camp.
Packers news, notes and linksRead more...(636 words + 1 image, estimated 2:33 mins reading time)
Tyler Dunne at the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel talked to a bunch of folks about Sam Shields. Is Shields worth a mega-contract? You might not find a faster corner in the league. But Shields also has missed games every season with various injuries. And he has a little ways to go before truly being one of the league’s top corners instead of having the potential to be one of the league’s top corners. As with any free-agent decision, it all comes down to value. I’d like to see Shields re-signed, but if he walks, the Packers still have Tramon Williams, a returning Casey Hayward, Micah Hyde and Davon House at cornerback.
Mike Mccarthy sounded optimistic in an interview at the NFL Scouting Combine that Jermichael Finley would play again. Finley had the same two vertebrae fused that ended Nick Collins career. I’m rooting for Finley to make it back, but I still have doubts that, if he does return, it’ll be with the Packers. Either way, I’m curious what kind of offer he gets in free agency if he is cleared.
Ted Thompson also spoke at the combine. As usual, he said nothing.
I agree with John Rehor over at Packerstalk.com: Let’s calm down about Ted Thompson preparing to go all nutso in free agency. I don’t see it happening. I do think Thompson will sign a few guys. There has been value in some under-the-radar veterans in recent years that don’t completely blow up a team’s payroll. Thompson has missed the boat on some of these guys and won’t want to miss it again. At least I hope he won’t…
As always, when you’re at Packerstalk.com, check out the latest podcasts from this week.
Thompson and McCarthy both spoke during Friday’s media session at the NFL Combine
Green Bay Packers general manager Ted Thompson and head coach Mike McCarthy both spoke to the media on Friday at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis. As usual, both were short and did not offer a lot of substance to what they had to say.
With three straight disappointing appearances in the postseason now behind them, following their Super Bowl championship in 2010, Thompson and McCarthy have many eyes trained on them during this offseason. There has already been speculation on what they might do to address the needs their team has heading into the 2014 season.
NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport created a stir when he reported that the Packers plan to be more active in free agency than they have in years. His report stated that the Packers could add “up to five” new players. This raised many eyebrows, as it goes against what Thompson has done year in and year out during his time as GM: build and develop, largely through the draft.
With Friday’s media sessions, there was hope to gain some insight into what Thompson and McCarthy said. The Journal-Sentinel’s Packers blog provided a recap of Thompson’s comments. Our friends over at Acme Packing Company laid out a nice recap of McCarthy’s comments.
I have the snippets below with some of my own thoughts on what was said.
On cornerback Sam Shields: “I think Sam’s been a good player for us. He does a good job and he’s one of the fellas that we’d like to have back.”
Shields definitely was a solid fella last season. He led the Packers with four interceptions and was their best defensive back overall. There have been no rumblings about a new contract for Shields yet, and with each passing day, it appears likely the team will let him hit the open market. Thompson likely has a figure in mind for Shields but may be concerned that he and his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, are looking for an inflated amount. If Shields truly wants to break the bank, he’s not likely going to do so in Green Bay. Read more...(3190 words + 3 images, estimated 12:46 mins reading time)
Cal tight end Richard Rodgers could be a good fit to replace Jermichael Finley in the upcoming NFL draft.
The NFL Scouting Combine starts on Saturday and Packers general manager Ted Thompson will be there to observe all of the young NFL hopefuls who could potentially fill holes on the Packers roster.
Yes, it’s that time of year where words like “athletic” and “upside” become part of our everyday vocabulary and we pay extra close attention to how long a player’s arms are and what kind of motor he has. Keeping track of everything going on at the NFL Combine and the buzz about various prospects can be overwhelming. That’s why ALLGBP.com is here to help.
I picked out 10 players to watch at the NFL Combine if you’re a Packers fan. I have no idea if Thompson himself will be closely watching these players over others, but these 10 players are a mix of possible first-round targets for the Packers, or mid-round picks that appear to have the tools to help the Packers in one way or another down the road.
Of course, after the NFL Combine wraps up, ALLGBP.com will have more NFL draft profiles on possible future Packers than you will be able to handle. For now, keep an eye on these 10 players and we’ll see if any of them wind up in Green Bay come April.
HaHa Clinton-Dix, Safety, Alabama The Packers need a safety and Clinton-Dix might be the best one in this draft class. Scouts rave about Clinton-Dix’s instincts when the ball is in the air and his ability to shift directions and accelerate. His tackling could use some work, but the Packers desperately need a safety who can close on the ball and help eliminate big plays in the opponent’s passing game. Based on what I’ve seen, it’s really hard to get over the top on Clinton-Dix. Teams have had no problems getting over the top on the Packers safeties ever since Nick Collins was injured. If you’re a Packers fan, you might actually hope Clinton-Dix has a poor showing at the combine to increase the chances that he’ll fall to the Packer at pick No. 21.
Read more...(1347 words + 1 image, estimated 5:23 mins reading time)
Since I appear to be the Grandpa of the Draftnik football writers I find at times a need to explain some of my witticisms and quotes. There is an old saying “live by the sword, die by the sword’. That really should be self-explanatory. Today I want to relate that saying to TED THOMPSON and his successful reign as the Leader of the PACK.
As anyone who follows the PACKERS and/or the NFL Draft knows THOMPSON, also know affectionately around the League as WHITEY, subscribes to the theory that you build your franchise through the Draft Process and then hang on to your good players. Once upon a time, say 2006, WHITEY also supplemented his roster by signing a couple of significant VFA by the names of WOODSON & PICKETT. Those 2 players helped solidify the Green Bay roster and contributed significantly to their 2010 season SUPER BOWL run. For some unknown reason THOMPSON has been reluctant to take the plunge and fish in those waters again. WOODSON is gone, and PICKETT is a roster question mark from this point on, in his mid-thirties.
The main point of this diatribe is to point out that even though I agree with THOMPSON in principle I feel like injuries exposed how little experienced depth the PACKERS roster currently has. Many will defend the organizational philosophy by pointing out that the 2013 team was decimated by injuries. The PACK were indeed near the head of the injury bug epidemic list, no matter what criteria you use. Officially, the team lost 70 games by starters to injury. The key players involved were AARON RODGERS (7 games), RANDALL COBB (10), JERMICHAEL FINLEY (10) & BRYAN BULAGA (16). CLAY MATTHEWS also missed games twice because of his wrist woes. There were also multiple games lost by non-starters as well. But as the injuries mounted it became clear that the depth on the team was lacking and too many players plugged into the breach were not of sufficient NFL caliber and/or experience to hold down the fort over the short or long term. Read more...(1264 words + 1 image, estimated 5:03 mins reading time)