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NFL Draft

TDN Scouting Roundtable: Alabama’s Phidarian Mathis Moving Up

  • The Draft Network
  • July 17, 2020
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It seems like the 2020 NFL Draft just happened, but we move fast here at The Draft Network.

Currently going through summer evaluations for the 2021 NFL Draft class, our scouting team of Kyle Crabbs, Joe Marino, Jordan Reid, and Drae Harris are meeting up every day to discuss prospects, traits, and concepts. New to TDN is a daily scouting roundtable where we go through and identify the most important points of conversation from that day’s meeting.

On Friday, Marino talked about an AAC QB, while Reid moved an Alabama defender up his board.

Mathis Rises

Our staff chose a few prospects to go back and evaluate for a second time this past week.  Seeing if he missed anything the first time around, Reid chose Alabama IDL Phidarian Mathis as one of those rechecks. The result?  Mathis moved all the way up from a Day 3 grade and into his top 100.

“I didn’t realize the exact role they had him in so I was higher on him the second time around,” Reid said. “He’s asked to be a good, 2-gap run stuffer and he does it really well. I moved him into the top 100 because I was wanting things out of him that he wasn’t required to do.”

A dominant force in the run game, Mathis has yet to put up much pass-rush production, garnering zero sacks through two seasons of play. Ultimately, it's the main reason why Reid was initially worried. Reid now believes that worry is somewhat overblown, citing Mathis' dominance in other areas as a main selling point for the defender.  

“I could see 3-4 teams taking him in the second or third round because you have to have one of those guys who can clog both A-gaps. He blows up everything inside and he does it well,” Reid stated. “I don’t think he’s quite as explosive as (former Alabama DLs) like A’Shawn Robinson or Dalvin Tomlinson, but as far as a run-stuffer and strength at the point of attack (POA), he’s right there with both of them.

Russo Disappoints

The second main talking point in today’s meeting came when Marino discussed Anthony Russo.  No, it wasn’t that Anthony Russo, otherwise known as the director of those Avengers movies you love. Rather it was the highly regarded 6-foot-4, 235-pound quarterback out of Temple.  

Manning the helm for the Owls throughout the last two seasons, Russo has demonstrated sufficient traits for the position all while putting forth decent numbers as a thrower.  Unfortunately, Marino wasn’t overly enthused about his next-level ability and stated as much during the meeting.

“He’s your classic, throwback, drop-back passer. I just don’t know if he has a whole lot of appeal,” Marino noted in his evaluation of Russo. “He’ll make some nice bucket throws and he’ll find leverage, but where the game is going, it’s not good for a player like this.”

A statue in the pocket who has yet to record a completion percentage higher than 60%, the red flags for Russo are quite considerable, especially considering his inability to take care of the football (26 interceptions in 24 total games).

"He won’t do much out of structure or throw off-platform,” Marino noted. "I just think he’s very limited and he didn't move the needle for me. He (also) throws the football with a natural rise, which got him in trouble. He’d float passes to wide-open targets and they would end up as interceptions.”

Marino ended up giving Russo a UDFA grade heading into the 2020 season. Of course, that ranking could rise considerably with improved play, but it speaks volumes to where the passer currently is as a prospect.

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