When Jordan Matthews lines up during spring practices this offseason, it might not be at his usual spot in the slot. Instead, the 23-year-old pass catcher might find himself standing on the outside near the sideline. So does that mean Matthews and 2015 first round draft pick Nelson Agholor are starters on the outside right now?
"Yes," said Doug Pederson during a media session on Wednesday. "That’s kind of how it looks right now."
The Eagles head coach went on to explain the team will evaluate Matthews in his new role.
"I think he can play outside," Pederson said. "I want to look at him outside this spring as we go through the offseason. With his skill set, he can play both [on the outside and in the slot.]"
Pederson has been very honest with the media so far, so it's not like he's given us reason to believe he's lying. But before taking this Matthews-to-the-outside tidbit too far, it should be noted there was a similar notion last offseason.
"I think you would think that I might get a whole lot more outside reps now just because [Jeremy] Maclin is gone, but I already had talked to coaches, and they were already going to implement me more on the outside as opposed to just the inside regardless," Matthews told the Inquirer last year. "I don't think that's a crazy, huge deal."
Matthews has played for most of his two-year career. The 6-3, 205 pound receiver holds a distinct size advantage over slot cornerback, who typically tend to be on the smaller side. That's a mismatch that's worked in Matthews' favor so far. Among Eagles players in their first two seasons, Matthews ranks first in receptions (152), second in yards (1,869), and second in touchdowns (16). Here's some more impressive context for you:
Randy Moss, John Jefferson, Julio Jones, Marques Colston and Odell Beckham are the other five.— Joshua M (@joshuahm13) March 23, 2016
One criticism of Matthews that explains his lack of outside opportunities is his ability to get separation. Matthews is fast; he runs a 4.46 40-yard dash. But he's not considered to be a deep threat by any means.
Speaking of, the Eagles are seemingly looking to add more speed to their wide receiver corps. They already signed free agent Chris Givens and they're hosting speedy wide receiver prospect Kolby Listenbee on a pre-draft visit. So the Eagles might be looking for more speed to add on the outside, and Matthews doesn't necessarily fit the bill.
At the very least, it does seem possible Matthews could get more opportunities on the outside than he did in the past. Chip Kelly pretty much used him exclusively as a slot receiver. Now he might get the chance to play both inside and outside, as Pederson noted he's capable of doing.