Not many fans know about know about Chris Matthews, the former Kentucky Wildcat who won the Canadian Football League Rookie of the Year Award in 2013. Even with the drafting of Paul Richardson and Kevin Norwood by Seattle last weekend, the Seahawks and Pete Carroll are wanting to see big things from Matthews.
Well, like you see his stature he’s a big dude out here and we’re gonna see if he can play big. Not all tall guys play big… He’s a good looking kid, as far as catching the ball and all that stuff and he’s learning well. But it’ll take time, we’ll have to get all the way into OTA’s and (team) mini-camp before we can start to get a feel for that.
– Pete Carroll
I’ve been raving about the Seahawks’ pickups lately, but I what else can I do? Far as new guys on the block, I’m going to talk about the kids that I can potentially see making a difference on this team. Good as the Seahawks are, there’s a lot of guys with potential to make this team even better.
We’re at such a point now when so many of the moves the Seahawks make seem to just liquify into pure gold and when your best players are rejects that have transformed you into the World Champs, a lot of moves inherently stand beyond questioning. It’s true that some of, actually most of these roster moves are just academic opportunities for kids to come in and shock the world. Most will not be able to match up to the upgraded level of competition, not just in Seattle, but across the NFL. But as has been proven many times with this staff there are plenty that are definitely going to make a competitive difference on the Seahawks’ final roster.
Remember Percy Harvin‘s hype and how the Seahawks pushed him as their first round draft pick because that’s what they gave up for him? Matthews’ signing was nothing like that, and in fact has already been forgotten by many fans after the awesome pickups by the Hawks in the draft.
But coach said it, Matthews has got a huge frame, in the 6’5, 220 range. He also clocks in at 4.57 in the 40, which isn’t world-class by any means (in fact all seven major Seattle receivers clock-in at least .06 seconds faster), but still qualifies pretty decently for a kid his size. If he can “play big” like the Hawks are hoping and like he did at both Kentucky and Winnipeg, he can be a great developmental kid for the practice squad, perhaps another attempt to capture Mike Williams‘ season one magic from four years ago. This could work out very much like a redshirt freshman would have worked for Carroll back in his USC days.
Just an extra element to think about too, Sidney Rice is about the same size as Matthews and when his size left the lineup last season due to injury, Russell Wilson was not as comfortable early on in the play, while making decisions in the pocket. For a long stretch and in fact really until the Super Bowl when Harvin returned for a full game, Wilson’s production dropped off tremendously without Rice. There is a direct correlation.
Separation is just not as big of a deal when you’re receiver can ward off or out-jump a smaller corner, so there’s a trust that can be developed with a kid like Matthews that some of the others can’t possibly gain with Russ that could be invaluable. Not that Wilson doesn’t trust the other guys to make plays, he does. As the games went on last year he let it rip a little bit more, it’s just a security thing that only a big guy can provide.
Sidney is back in the lineup, so maybe this is just a ho-hum move for right now. But with Sid’s injury history, one-year contract and the high(ish) price-tag free agency will demand next season if he can stay healthy and have another decent season, this is also a great opportunity for Matthews to develop into the Sidney Rice of the future for the organization. Earn at least that spot on the practice squad and who knows just how long the Seahawks may keep him and his potential around.
This is where considering him as a redshirt or future prospect might be the best way to describe him. The Seahawks have a lot of money tied up in receivers now and will need some future relief while still getting production. So he probably could stick around for some time if he can mature into a reliable target. You can see it now on tape, works back to the QB pretty well, wards off the defender with his body and uses his hands to make in-traffic catches, decently strong, there’s stuff to build on.
Like the coaches, we’ll have to wait a while to get a true read on just how well this kid will fit into the Seahawks’ scheme and build rapport with his new QB’s, if at all. You can see in the clips below that the upside is there though. As the Seahawks didn’t pick up another receiver in the draft or after (and because he’s only a year into his pro career out of Lexington), Matthews might be good enough to qualify as a venerable third receiver taken, although obviously he was brought over from the CFL. Just depends on final results.