Nov 30, 2013; Nashville, TN, USA; Vanderbilt Commodores wide receiver Jordan Matthews (87) catches a pass against Wake Forest Demon Deacons safety Anthony Wooding Jr. (11) on a fourth down play during the fourth quarter at Vanderbilt Stadium. Vanderbilt won 23 to 21. Mandatory Credit: Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

Why Jordan Matthews Was the Steal of the 2014 NFL Draft

May 8, 2014; New York, NY, USA; Jordan Matthews (Vanderbilt) poses for a photo during the NFL Draft red carpet arrivals at Radio City Music Hall. Mandatory Credit: Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports

With the 42nd pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, the Eagles may have came away with the steal of the 2014 NFL Draft in the form of  Vanderbilt wide receiver Jordan Matthews. After dumping Pro Bowl wide receiver DeSean Jackson and his hefty contract, the Philadelphia Eagles needed to add additional depth at the wide receiver position.

Jordan Matthews, cousin of Hall of Fame wide receiver Jerry Rice, was SEC’s all-time leader in receptions and receiving yards during his senior year at Vanderbilt. He recorded an SEC record 262 receptions for 3,759 yards at Vanderbilt. While his statistics paint a pretty portrait for Jordan Matthews, many scouts believed that he would not sustain must success at the pro level because he didn’t offer much separation. Ironically his cousin, Jerry Rice, received the same criticism.

Although Rice was doubted by many teams and scouts, his excellent worth ethic combined with unique athleticism allowed him to thrive in the NFL. He put in extra hours in the film room and participated in longer practices to improve every aspect of his game. It looks like Jordan Matthews may have learned a thing or two from his cousin. Prior to the Senior Bowl, Matthews requested game file of every cornerback he would be facing during the game.

In an interview on Sunday,  Matthews told 97.5 The Fanatic, “I don’t think there is just one thing that you need to get better at.” Matthews is willing to put in the work on the field and in the film room to improve each aspect of the game. His excellent work ethic should allow him to thrive in the NFL.

Although the wait was long, Jordan Matthews remains optimistic about joining Chip Kelly’s high octane offense. With the Philadelphia Eagles’ top receiver, Jeremy Maclin, coming off a season-ending injury and Riley Cooper returning, there should be plenty of opportunities for Matthews to get the playing time he needs to develop. Seeing what Chip Kelly did with Riley Cooper — who has less athleticism and upside than Matthews — last season, Eagles fans can only imagine what Kelly can do with a player like Matthews.

Working with a player who has only missed two practices in his entire college career, the Eagles have drafted the steal of the 2014 NFL Draft, with excellent athleticism and work ethic. He doesn’t have to be the next DeSean Jackson or next Jerry Rice. He has to be the first Jordan Matthews.

Jordan Matthews: “There are levels to becoming great in the NFL and that’s one of the things you’ve gotta do as a rookie. … You have to find your role and become the best at that before you can move on to a new one. That’s what I’m going to be doing.”

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