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WR Chris Matthews - Undrafted Free Agent

Chris Matthews, undrafted free agent, signed by the Cleveland Browns.
Chris Matthews, undrafted free agent, signed by the Cleveland Browns.

The first thing that stands out about wide receiver Chris Matthews of Kentucky has to be his size. At 6-5, 219 lbs, he is the tallest wide receiver on the roster, even having two inches on Carlton Mitchell. That might make you think he isn't a natural fit for his position and is more suited for tight end (with size added), but scouting reports state that he is coordinated well. He doesn't have great speed, but that has not been a deterrent in his game. Here is a scouting report from the National Football Post:

Lacks a great initial burst off the line of scrimmage, more of a strider who takes a bit to get into his routes and will need some time to mature vs. press man in the NFL. However, he builds speed as he goes and knows how to use his big frame in order to go up and make plays on the football at its highest point. Plus, he's a pretty coordinated kid for his size. Exhibits some natural body control and change of direction skills as a route runner and does a nice job finding soft spots in zone and using his big frame to shield defenders from the ball.

There is also some physicality to his game after the catch and once he gets those long strides going he can be a tough cover down the field when asked to run vertical routes. He's going to need some time, but these big, long receivers with good body control and lanky speed definitely have a home in the NFL. Has the size to be a solid blocker on the outside and has seen a real spike in his stock this year after a productive senior campaign.

Last season, Matthews caught 61 passes for 925 yards and 9 touchdowns. That was far different than his junior year (his first with Kentucky), where he was a big disappointment after catching 32 passes for 354 yards and 3 touchdowns.

He played for Los Angeles Harbor College during his first two seasons in an effort to showcase his talents and be recruited by a larger college. He thrived during his sophomore season and received very high praise from his coach:

Peabody [the team's offensive coordinator] said he was "probably the best wide receiver in the nation" because of his versatility. "He can beat you deep, leap up above you and he’s also able to go across the middle. He did some things at 6-foot-6 that you don’t see from 6-6 kids, as far as making guys miss. And there was more than one occasion [when blocking] that he would drive an opponent off the field and sit him on our bench."

Why did Matthews struggle in his first year after transferring to Kentucky, compared to his senior season?

Even with Kentucky star Randall Cobb taking him under his wing, Chris admitted he had trouble deciphering the playbook and the new terminology.

"It was hard for me, in my first year, to understand the playbook right off the bat. I made a couple of plays last year, but nothing compared to this year when I finally understood what was going on."

This article here does a great job at highlighting Matthews' upbringing, and it is the source of the quotes above. Matthews' stock rose as April's draft approached, and some felt that he might be worth a sixth- or seventh-round pick. When the dust settled, he was an undrafted free agent and the Browns decided to give him an opportunity. He'll have a tough time making the final roster even if their aren't any "stars" at the position just because of a numbers game, but he'll work toward becoming a practice squad player.

Note: here is an article from our Patriots affiliate from when he had a workout with them.