Nobody really has high expectations for a player that is drafted in the 7th round. When the Miami Dolphins drafted Rishard Matthews from Nevada with the 227th pick in the 7th round last year, most fans had no clue who he was. Competing with 11 other receivers in training camp, he beat the odds and earned a spot on the Dolphins’ 53 man roster. Without further ado, let’s grade out Matthews on his overall performance in 2012.
To begin with, Matthews was slowly acclimated to the Dolphins’ offense. He only played in eight games. During the last three games, QB Ryan Tannehill started targeting him more, often going his way in critical third down situations. Overall, he was targeted 19 times, catching 11 balls for 151 yards and zero touchdowns. Trust me; I do realize these numbers aren’t exactly Pro Bowl worthy.
But regardless of his subpar stats, I do like the way Matthews runs his routes. After watching him on the field, he has good football awareness and seems to do a decent job at creating separation from the defenders. For a comparison, WR Marlon Moore has a huge problem creating separation which is why he hardly ever gets open.
Matthews also has good hand-eye coordination and actually catches the ball with his hands instead of trapping it against his chest. Because WR Brian Hartline usually waits for the ball to get trapped up against his chest, it slows down his routes and he usually falls down or gets tackled immediately. This is why Hartline is not a good YAC (Yards After Catch) WR.
I don’t mean to sound harsh on Hartline, but this is what I have observed from him since 2009. If you don’t agree with me, then go back and look at his film and we can debate that. Going back to Matthews, he has shown his ability to catch passes with his hands in stride to provide some YAC. As a Dolphins’ fan, that’s very encouraging.
Based on what I have seen out of Matthews in his limited playing time as a rookie, I do believe he has more upside and ceiling than most of the other WRs currently on this team. I know, that’s not saying much. That’s like being the tallest kid at midget camp. Nevertheless, the potential is there and he will only get better. But as always, I have to grade him on his overall production in 2012 and not his “potential.” Keep in mind, this grade is based on his performance compared to all other WRs in the entire league, not just within the team.
Overall Grade: C -