Prospect profile: Ryan Mathews, RB, Fresno State

Sporting News’ Pro Football War Room has hundreds of player evaluations in preparation for the 2010 NFL draft . Here is a capsule look at prospect Ryan Mathews.

Ryan Mathews rushed for 1850 yards and 19 touchdowns for Fresno last season.
Ryan Mathews rushed for 1850 yards and 19 touchdowns for Fresno last season.

NFL position: RB
Height: 5-11
Weight: 220
40 time: 4.50
Current projection: Second-round pick
NFL comparison: Kevin Jones, Bears

Inside running: Is a powerful inside runner with great pad level, leverage and balance through the hole. Gets downhill fast, and looks to run through contact. Keeps feet moving, and falls forward after contact. Is better at breaking high arm tackles than withstanding contact around his feet. Can dip shoulder with quick lateral move in hole to make a defender miss. Grade: 8.5

Outside running: Is much more effective as a north/south runner. Runs best when he can get to the perimeter and turn shoulders downhill. Lacks elite speed to consistently gain the edge or outrun angles for defenders. Looks to run over would-be tacklers near the sideline rather than try to make them miss. Is not creative or elusive in the open field. Grade: 7.5

Blocking: Can be a devastating blocker in pass protection, especially against a blitzing safety or linebacker. Keeps shoulders square, rolls hips and uncoils body into pass rushers. Shows sufficient skills to play immediately on third downs. Grade: 8.5

Hands/routes: Shows soft hands and ability to adjust to off-target passes. Is most effective on screens and checkdowns. Is more likely to break a tackle than evade anyone on wheel, swing or angle routes. Grade: 8.0

Durability: Is strong and powerful. Runs behind his pads with great lower-body flexibility, nimble feet and balance to bounce off tackle attempts. Wears down defenders. Runs with square shoulders and a strong stride. Shows exceptional toughness, but little elusiveness. Grade: 7.0

Bottom line: Mathews, a first-year starter as a junior in ’09, lost playing time to other backs late in the season. He has the body and athletic ability to excel, especially for a team seeking a sledgehammer inside back. He will become a complete player who lacks Pro Bowl-caliber speed and ability, but he should have a solid career. Mathews has the chance to play right away on third down because of his ability to pass protect. We should be paired with an undersized, fast and explosive back.

For more than 200 player scouting reports from Russ Lande and his team of former NFL scouts — plus updated mock draft, Super 99 rankings and more — go to warroom.sportingnews.com.

Sporting News’ Pro Football War Room has hundreds of player evaluations in preparation for the 2010 NFL draft . Here is a capsule look at prospect Ryan Mathews.

Ryan Mathews rushed for 1850 yards and 19 touchdowns for Fresno last season.
Ryan Mathews rushed for 1850 yards and 19 touchdowns for Fresno last season.

NFL position: RB
Height: 5-11
Weight: 220
40 time: 4.50
Current projection: Second-round pick
NFL comparison: Kevin Jones, Bears

Inside running: Is a powerful inside runner with great pad level, leverage and balance through the hole. Gets downhill fast, and looks to run through contact. Keeps feet moving, and falls forward after contact. Is better at breaking high arm tackles than withstanding contact around his feet. Can dip shoulder with quick lateral move in hole to make a defender miss. Grade: 8.5

Outside running: Is much more effective as a north/south runner. Runs best when he can get to the perimeter and turn shoulders downhill. Lacks elite speed to consistently gain the edge or outrun angles for defenders. Looks to run over would-be tacklers near the sideline rather than try to make them miss. Is not creative or elusive in the open field. Grade: 7.5

Blocking: Can be a devastating blocker in pass protection, especially against a blitzing safety or linebacker. Keeps shoulders square, rolls hips and uncoils body into pass rushers. Shows sufficient skills to play immediately on third downs. Grade: 8.5

Hands/routes: Shows soft hands and ability to adjust to off-target passes. Is most effective on screens and checkdowns. Is more likely to break a tackle than evade anyone on wheel, swing or angle routes. Grade: 8.0

Durability: Is strong and powerful. Runs behind his pads with great lower-body flexibility, nimble feet and balance to bounce off tackle attempts. Wears down defenders. Runs with square shoulders and a strong stride. Shows exceptional toughness, but little elusiveness. Grade: 7.0

Bottom line: Mathews, a first-year starter as a junior in ’09, lost playing time to other backs late in the season. He has the body and athletic ability to excel, especially for a team seeking a sledgehammer inside back. He will become a complete player who lacks Pro Bowl-caliber speed and ability, but he should have a solid career. Mathews has the chance to play right away on third down because of his ability to pass protect. We should be paired with an undersized, fast and explosive back.

For more than 200 player scouting reports from Russ Lande and his team of former NFL scouts — plus updated mock draft, Super 99 rankings and more — go to warroom.sportingnews.com.

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