NFL Prospects Focus: Jeff Mathews

As I stated Saturday in my post about the Bloomsburg players, I want to bring you up to date on some small school prospects who have a chance of getting drafted next spring. I also have to point out that the bulk of my evaluation is from 2012 tape as I haven’t gotten 2013 tape on many of these players.

Jeff Mathews has rewritten the QB record book at Cornell. He became the starter at halftime of his first game as a freshman and has been leading Cornell ever since. His career stats are impressive, completing 746 of 1197 passes for 9303 yards, 58 TDs and 33 interceptions. He missed one game because of injury in 2012. While his stats are impressive, his win-loss record is not. Cornell’s record since 2010 is 12-22 including 1-2 in 2013. When you are evaluating quarterbacks, especially from the smaller schools, the win-loss record is a very important stat. Why? Because if a quarterback is a legitimate NFL prospect at a smaller school, he will make that team a better team. While Mathews flashes impressive skills, he has failed to win games on a consistent basis.

Mathews is tall with an adequate build. He looks a bit to lean in the upper body. He is listed at 6’4" – 225 lbs. He is an adequate athlete with average speed. He looks to be a 4.9 type. While he has some movement skills, he is not sudden and quick footed. He is not a threat to do much as a runner, and his ability to keep plays alive with his feet is average. Part of the problem is that I don’t think he has a good feel for pass rushes. He gets sacked a lot. In one game I viewed, he was sacked three times in the first quarter.

As a passer, there are some things to like. He plays mostly in a spread-type formation, but he will line up under center at times. He shows good setup quickness and has poise and patience in the pocket. He can go through a progression and find secondary receivers when his primary is covered. He has good arm strength, showing the ability to throw the ball 50+ yards. At times, you see him throw a fast, tight ball that can thread the needle, but I have also seen him throw loose floaters that the wind can take. Many of his shorter throws are nose down passes that can be difficult to catch. While his completion percentage is high (63% over the last 2 seasons), his ball placement is inconsistent. He throws a number of passes that are complete at Cornell but would probably be intercepted in the NFL. The window to complete a pass in the NFL is much smaller than the window in college ball. In saying that, I have also seen him make some big time throws where you say, “wow” when watching the tape.

There are things to like about Mathews. He has started a number of games, and for the most part, his numbers are good. He is smart, shows leadership on the field, has fairly good mechanics. and has shown he can make some excellent throws. There are going to be a number of coaches that look at his tape and think they would love to work with this kid. He has some natural traits to play in the NFL. I don’t see him as a future starter in the league, but he can be a solid backup. This will be an interesting guy to watch in late 2013 tape to see if there is improvement in his play.

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