Vanderbilt wide receiver Jordan Matthews says, 'I'm just worried about making myself better, that's it.' (Elise Amendola / Associated Press)
Mobile, Ala. — In advance of the Senior Bowl, Vanderbilt wide receiver Jordan Matthews requested video of the cornerbacks playing in the game, hoping to learn their tendencies.
Matthews’ request was denied, so he turned to the Internet, where he found tape of most of the players.
Instead of paying attention to his wide receiver competition, Matthews is simply trying to improve his game, and the Senior Bowl is a perfect opportunity to impress NFL teams.
“You’ve got to look at your future through a straw,” said Matthews, whom many consider the top senior receiver in the draft, although with a record 102 underclassmen declaring, he may not be a first-round pick.
“I can’t worry about what Marqise Lee (USC), Sammy Watkins (Clemson) or Mike Evans (Texas A&M) are doing. I have to worry about what Jordan Matthews is doing and make sure I’m the best possible player I can be.”
And so far, Matthews (262 receptions, 3,759 yards, 24 touchdowns in his career) appears to be doing everything possible to stand out.
After practice Monday and Tuesday, he ran routes with Fresno State quarterback Derek Carr. Matthews also has been working with San Jose State quarterback David Fales in Arizona, and wanted to gain similar chemistry with Carr.
“He’s got a great attitude, and he’s come to see me and make sure he was able to bounce around a little bit, inside outside, show us that he can run some slot work,” Jaguars offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch said. “It’s been very cool to see and certainly one of those things that you can see he has a really good football foundation.
“(Former Vanderbilt) coach (James) Franklin has done a great job with him obviously because he certainly can bounce around and learn the system pretty good.”
As of Tuesday afternoon, Matthews said the Lions had not requested an interview with him, but he certainly fits a need.
The Lions need an outside receiving threat opposite all-pro Calvin Johnson, and at 6-foot-3 and 206 pounds, Matthews has the size most teams desire. ESPN ranks him the No. 4 receiver in the draft, behind Watkins, Lee and Evans.
“I have all the respect in the world for Calvin,” Matthews said. “I think he’s the best in the league right now so it would be a great opportunity, but I’m just worried about making myself better, that’s it.”
Matthews said he models his game after Jerry Rice’s because “it’s the little things that matter.”
And if his talent matches his tenacious mentality, Matthews could have a bright future.
“There’s always room for improvement,” he said. “I’m just trying to come out here, trying to compete against everybody and at the same time, most importantly, compete against myself and make sure I’m a better player when I leave.”