This isn't a article about the draft or if it was worth it to get Ryan Mathews versus the picks the Chargers gave up for him. This is an article on the man they did draft, the man that will take over one of the most sought after positions in the league. He will be taking over a position for a team that has one of the most dangerous passing offenses around. Not to mention, he will be playing in one of the nicest cities and for one of the most dominant teams in the league. That man. Two words. One name. Ryan Mathews.
Let me first start things off by saying that I was the most pessimistic person about Ryan Mathews being a Chargers RB. I was able to prove why this man didn't fit the Chargers scheme or offensive philosophy. No one bothered to debate me all that much on it. If there is one thing for sure, there is only one person I won't debate, and that is AJ Smith himself. I wondered, what is it about Mathews that makes one of the top GM's give up so much to get him? One thing is for sure, the facts I had were exactly what AJ Smith didn't want in a RB.
There are three different types of RB's in the league:
You have the fast breakaway type of RB's that are big time play-makers. Guys that fall into this category would be RB's like CJ Spiller, Jahvid Best, and Dexter McCluster. They have great speed and agility and are able to hit, switch gears fast, and can make people look very dumb in the open field. The drawback to this, is they aren't able to push for extra yardage once tackled. These guys are known as the play-makers 'cause they put up highlight reels every once in awhile.
Then, there are power backs. These guys may not be the play-makers that take one to the house for 50+ yards, but these guys are the ones that cause defenses to take Tylenol after the game for the migraines they'll receive trying to tackle them. Defenses have a hard time stopping these type of RB's because they move chains. These guys are like LaGarrett Blount and Toby Gerhart. They get yardage regardless of who the defense and regardless of how crappy the offensive line may be. The drawback is that these guys get stuffed every once is a long while. These type of RB's generally get tired a lot faster as well.
Lastly, there are the very few RB's that have a little bit of both. These RB's are the most feared in the entire league. These are the guys that can run with both power and speed. These are the guys that have a plethora of weapons in their disposable to get over, around, or through defenses.
Ryan Mathew is that guy. He was the most balanced RB in the entire draft and in my humble opinion, there was not a single RB that showed nearly as much balance as he did.
One of the things I did, was look at all of his highlights and games I could find. I was wrong about one thing: Mathews can run the ball from nearly every offensive formation. His three TD performance against Boise State was spectacular because he rushed for each of those TD's for 50+ yards. What was impressive was that he ran his first TD out of the single-back spread, his second TD out of the shotgun, and his last TD out of another single-back spread formation. Just wow! Not all RB's can run out of these formations very well.
Mathews shows a knack for getting extra yardage and staying on his feet. He runs with a low center of gravity, especially for a guy his size, a quality which isn't often found in other decent size RB's.
Not to mention, Mathews could actually catch the ball. He can't run routes like Dexter McCluster can, but that's not why the Chargers got Mathews. Mathews was able to be very effective in the screen game in Fresno State, which tells me he'll kill in the Chargers' vertical offense. Defenses over the last two years learned that they have to play off the Chargers offense for the ever-so famous deep ball the Chargers are good at. This in turn will help the Chargers set up the screen underneath. Darren Sproles brings a different aspect to the Chargers screen game, as will Mathews.
Another plus is that Mathews has the strength and ability to learn how to block. He wasn't asked to do it often in college but with Sproles helping him, he has the advantage of having good strength and the near perfect RB size to continue the Chargers elite passing game. If Sproles can block, you best believe that Mathews will get it done also.
Paul Preisibius made a good point: if Mathews can just gain a minimum of 4 yards/ carry, how much greater are the Chargers going to be as in play-calling options? Mathews has the ability of a big back to eat up clock, which the Chargers haven't been able to do since the 2007 season.
Mathews will also be a perfect compliment to Sproles. They both have completely different running styles. Both can catch and will be used differently in the game, thus giving the Chargers major versatility.
Honestly, nearly all RB's that are balanced, end up being very elite RB's. I don't mean to put pressure on Mathews, but his running style is similar to those of L.T., Marshall Faulk, and Edgerinn James. It is a simple a mix of speed, agility, and power in the running game.
The Chargers are going to be a lot more balanced offensively. They don't have much of a run-blocking FB or a blocking TE, but with Mathews, he'll get those minimum of 4 yards regardless of who's in front of him.
I'm buying into this Ryan Mathews draft pick. Question is, are you?