By Joseph Santoliquito
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Jordan Matthews knows the situation. The Eagles’ second-round pick out of Vanderbilt is aware he’ll have a chance to step right in and contribute.
But the 6-foot-3, 210-pound Matthews, who was taken 42nd overall and whom the Eagles traded up 12 picks to get, is willing to be cautious and patient. Not let the situation take him over.
With the Eagles releasing leading receiver DeSean Jackson, after a career season in which he produced 82 catches for 1,332 yards and nine touchdowns, there is an obvious void that needs to be filled.
“I’m just going out and trying my best, I don’t look at anything past rookie camp,” said Matthews, who Vanderbilt as the all-time SEC leader in career receptions (262) and yards (3,759). “I don’t think there’s any pressure because I’m a totally different player than DeSean Jackson.
“He’s a great player. I wish him all the best in Washington. But at the same time I’ve got to be the best player that I can be. There’s not much pressure for a guy when you’ve got LeSean McCoy, Darren Sproles, Riley Cooper and Jeremy Maclin and Nick Foles. I’ve just got to go in there and do my job, and that’s it. That’s all I’m focused on. I don’t like thinking too far ahead.”
Matthews has had an interesting path from Madison Academy high school, to Vanderbilt, to the NFL. He wasn’t getting much attention in high school, and only got the ride to Vanderbilt after another scholarship player fell out.
“It wasn’t like I was being looked over by some teams. I wasn’t wanted by essentially anybody,” Matthews recalled. “I was kind of stuck in no man’s land when it came to recruiting. I had a bunch of big schools that liked me, but nobody had ever gone to Division I from my high school, so they were kind of hesitant to offer. And then small schools would come and see Auburn, Mississippi State, Vanderbilt, Alabama and those schools and thought, ‘Oh, we don’t think we’ll be able to get him.’ So they never offered.”
From a player who wasn’t getting his door knocked down by college offers, Matthews blossomed at Vanderbilt under former coach James Franklin, Penn State’s new head coach.
During his senior year, Matthews exploded, catching 112 receptions for 1,477 yards and seven touchdowns. The Commodores had an unstable quarterback situation and their number-two receiver was gone with an injury, making Matthews the sole focus of opposing defense and making those numbers even more incredible.
Matthews has a big fan in his new teammate, Jaylen Watkins, who had to cover Matthews when Florida played Vanderbilt.
“He’s very competitive,” Watkins said about Matthews. “Vanderbilt did a good job of moving him around. We tried to key on him, but they would him to the third receiver in trips, but this year, I was lined up at safety, so I was able to go wherever he went. But in previous years, he lit us up. He’s a mismatch for linebackers, and when you put him on the outside, he’s strong and he’s big and he goes up and gets the ball. He’s definitely a mismatch problem.”