Butch Dill/Associated Press
"The last thing the Cowboys need is another wide receiver." That was me imitating what you just said to yourself. But you're wrong.
Outside of quarterback, I think wide receiver is rapidly becoming one of the most important positions in football. One reason is that they score points, and teams need to score points to win. Duh. Big, physical receivers can not only move the ball up the field, but they remain relevant in the red zone, helping teams convert offensive efficiency into wins.
Anyone here know a team that has historically racked up a lot of yards, but not a lot of points? Yeah, me too.
Second, there are still some terrible inefficiencies in the way NFL teams draft wide receivers. They care more about speed and less about size than they should. When you see a player like Tavon Austin get drafted in the top 10, you know there are problems. Austin sure is fun to watch, but St. Louis is going to have trouble scoring unless the NFL decides to award points for running sideways across the field.
There are three things I care about in regards to wide receiver success: age, size (namely red-zone relevance) and college stats. Vanderbilt's Jordan Matthews passes all three tests with flying colors. He's 21 years old, checked in at 6'3" at the Senior Bowl and posted at least 94 catches, 1,300 yards and seven touchdowns in each of the past two seasons.
You might argue that Austin also had awesome college stats, but Matthews' are more impressive. Here's why. As the guys at rotoViz will tell you, we should analyze receiver stats in terms of market share: the percentage of their team's overall passing stats for which each player was responsible. Because West Virginia was so effective on offense as a whole, Austin's market-share numbers weren't as outstanding as Matthews' market share stats.
Matthews has had some drops in practices, according to Jimmy Kempski of Philly.com, but he's also reportedly playing better than any wide receiver there.