When the Colts drafted Ricardo Montalbán..., er, excuse me, Ricardo Mathews, I think we all collectively scratched our heads, shrugged our shoulders, and said "Well, maybe Polian knows something about this guy that we don't." Billed as a kid who didn't necessarily live up to his talent potential at Cincinnati, Mathews was drafted by the Colts in the 7th Round of the 2010 NFL because Bill Polian and the coaches want to utilize him as a power end.
At 6'2, 290 pounds, Mathews would be one helluva load at DE for a team that has often utilized players more in the 245-265 pound range.
When I first started looking at scouting reports of Mathews, what jumped out is the speed and power he would bring to the team. For years, Raheem Brock was used as the "power" DE for the Colts, often subbing for Robert Mathis against teams that liked to run the football. Many of us longtime Colts fans often shook our heads at this package on defense. Why take out one of your best players on defense (Mathis), who is also pretty good against the run, for a guy who can't rush the passer as effectively and isn't much better against the run?
Now, Brock is gone, still unsigned after receiving his release. Mathews seems to be his replacement as the power end, and with players like Mitch King (who might play both DT and DE) and Jerry Hughes on the roster, Keyunta Dawson's employment with the Colts likely won't last past pre-season.
So, with Mathews, what are we getting?
Well, for starters, we're getting a guy who wants to learn. When asked about what he needs to do before the start of training camp, Mathews was emphatic:
Man, I want to learn the playbook! I. Need. To. Learn. The. System. I figured that out today because I was lost, and its no fun feeling lost.
Already, I like him.
During one of his post-draft press conferences, Polian said the defense would create special packages for Mathews, using him as a DE and possibly as a DT. This means that, currently, the Colts have Daniel Muir, Fili Moala, Antonio Johnson, Eric Foster, Mitch King, Keyunta Dawson, and Ricardo Montalbán... ugh... MATHEWS available to man the DT spots.
Excuse me for a moment:
Sorry, had to revisit my Star Trek II geekdom. I f*cking love Ricardo Montalbán. Rest in peace, brother.
OK, where was I? Oh yes, I was listing eight players on the Colts roster who can play DT. Gee, you think the Colts are worried about another 2008 happening again?
With 12.5 tackles behind the line in 2009, Mathews led the University of Cincinnati in tackles for a loss. However, U. of Cincy's defense was not good in 2009 (148 rushing yards a game), and Mathews himself managed just 3.5 sacks. While 3.5 sacks isn't something to dismiss, it seems to illustrate that he isn't much of a pass rusher despite his ability to get into the backfield and drop ball-carriers. Hence, the Colts calling him a "power end."
If the Colts are talking about utilizing Mathews in special packages on defense, I think it is safe to say that we can expect to see this kid playing a bit in 2010. He wasn't just drafted for depth. He was drafted to fit a need. If he learns the playbook, and goes out there and finally lives up to his potential, Polian might have found another 7th Round gem at DE.