Prospect Profile: Ryan Mathews's NFL Draft Analyst Chris Steuber profiles the top prospects eligible for the 2010 NFL Draft. Learn about Fresno State running back Ryan Mathews inside.

Ryan Mathews
School: Fresno State
Position: Running Back
Height: 5-11
Weight: 220
Projected 40-Time: 4.50

Star Rating: Grade: 93
Draft Projection: 1st Round

Star rating is based on a prospects standing (as of March 5th) in the 2010 Draft Rankings. A prospects grade is measured on the following scale:

85-100 = 1st - 2nd Round
_70-84 = 3rd - 4th Round
_55-69 = 5th - 6th Round
_40-54 = 7th Round - UDFA

After a breakout season, Mathews decided to forego his senior year and take his game to the next level.
Jarrett Baker/Getty Images

Strengths: Mathews is a strong runner who excels between the tackles, but has the deceptive quickness to be successful on the edge. He displays the patience, quick feet and vision necessary to find an opening within the line, has a burst that allows him to get to the second and third levels and finishes his runs strong by delivering a powerful stiff-arm. He has great balance and strength, runs with a forward lean and breaks several tackles before being pulled to the ground. He runs with a purpose at all times and plays faster on game day than his timed speed suggests. He’s surprisingly shifty and will make defenders miss in a small area. He’s an effective pass catcher out of the backfield, demonstrates focus and tremendous hand/eye coordination and quickly turns up field looking for a big gain. He’s a solid blocker who initiates contact to an on-coming defender and does a good job of sustaining his blocks due to his strength. He’s a complete back who plays with great effort.

Weaknesses: He lacks elite speed, and, while he has a burst, he tends to be deliberate in his approach towards the line. He has the strength to be an effective blocker, but must work on his hand placement and technique. Durability is a concern, due to his strong running style.

Steuber Says: Prior to the 2009 season – his first-year as a starter - Mathews was part of a running back by committee scenario during his freshman and sophomore campaigns. As a freshman, he shared the load with Clifton Smith and Lonyae Miller. During that season, Mathews rushed for 866 yards on 145 carries and led all NCAA freshmen in YPC (6.0) and touchdowns (14). The ensuing season, Fresno State had big plans for Mathews, and after he got off to a promising start - 470 yards rushing and four touchdowns in four games – it appeared that he was on his way to a breakout year. But, just as he was heating up, injuries kept him out of the lineup. Mathews missed five games due to a knee injury and finished the year with just 113 carries for 606 yards and six touchdowns. This past season, he played in every game but one and had the kind of year Fresno State envisioned him having in 2008; he rushed for 1,808 yards on 276 carries and 19 touchdowns. The biggest concern scouts have with Mathews is his durability. He’s extremely talented and deceptively quick on the edge, but his aggressive style of running and his inability to elude big hits will eventually take its toll. Mathews has workhorse-like qualities and can carry the ball between 22 – 27 times in a game, but at the next level, the team that selects him should keep his touches between 18 – 22. Mathews' stock is rising and he could come off the board in the 20 - 28 range.

A member of the Pro Football Writers of America and the Football Writers Association of America, Chris Steuber has provided his analysis of the NFL and NFL Draft prospects on the web and on the radio since 1999. Steuber’s features are published across the network and on If you wish to contact Chris Steuber, email him at: You can also now follow Chris Steuber on Twitter.

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