NFL Draft Spotlight: Ryan Mathews, RB, Fresno State

by Cory J. Bonini on April 21, 2010 @ 03:09:38 PDT

 


Ryan Mathews, of Fresno State, led the nation in rushing in 2009. He averaged 6.6 yards per carry on his way to a 276-attempt, 1,808-yard, 19-touchdown season. The junior running back's decision to enter the 2010 NFL Draft was probably the right one, as his stock wasn't likely to be higher after next year. 

Strengths

  • Size: muscular build on an ideal 5-foot-11 5/8, 218-pound frame
  • Strong runner: breaks tackles with regularity and always keeps his legs moving
  • Excels running between the tackles but is capable of bouncing outside - a powerful, downhill, one-cut style
  • Fast enough: No one will ever mix up Mathews with Chris Johnson, but the Fresno State product is able to outrun defenders if he has a step on them. He ran 4.45 seconds in the 40-yard dash.
  • Nose for the end zone: 39 career rushing touchdowns - two seasons with double-digit scores; ran for 19 scores last year
  • Good character, considered humble
  • Capable blocker
  • Changes direction well in the open field - tough to catch and bring down; very determined runner
  • Excellent balance

Weaknesses

  • Health risk: Injury and Mathews are no strangers. Knee and foot ailments caused him to place third on the team in rushing in 2008. 
  • Untested hands: Wasn't utilized much in the passing game (19 catches in three years)
  • Inexperienced running routes out of the backfield
  • One-year wonder?

Expected draft placement

We think Mathews, assuming he can avoid the injury bug, may wind up as the most productive back out of this draft class. His injury history will scare off some teams, and rightfully so. Mathews can break the long one, but he has the makeup of a two-down back in the NFL until he proves his receiving and pass-blocking skills are up to snuff. Even still, promise for becoming a three-down back exists. Mathews will likely be selected in the first round. He could be drafted by the Seattle Seahawks, Houston Texans or San Diego Chargers.

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About Cory J. Bonini

Cory is KFFL's General Manager. In late 2002, he joined the KFFL staff as a research analyst and has been involved in fantasy sports since 1996. A member of the Fantasy Sports Trade Association, as well as Fantasy Sports Writers Association, Bonini has been featured in print, on radio and on scores of websites. Bonini co-hosted Big Lead Sports on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio from 2011 to 2012.

Bonini was recognized with the 2010 Best Article in Print Award from the FSWA and was a finalist for the same award in 2011. In '11, he finished first overall in the FSWA NFL experts challenge that featured 60 of the industry's best competitors.

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