NFL Analyst Calls Broncos 4th Round Pick ‘Major Steal’

Broncos Damarri Mathis

Getty INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA - MARCH 06: Damarri Mathis #DB23 of Pittsburgh runs a drill during the NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on March 06, 2022 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images)

The Denver Broncos entered Day 3 of the NFL draft with two fourth-round picks. With their first pick, the Broncos selected Pittsburgh cornerback Damarri Mathis.

Last season at Pittsburgh, Mathis had 43 total tackles, two interceptions, and five passes defended.

He was a standout at the NFL combine, as he ran a 4.39-second 40-yard dash.

For a cornerback, Mathis is an impressive run defender. He earned a PFF run defense grade of 87.5 in 2021.

Per PFF, Mathis allowed a completion percentage of 50.0% and a quarterback rating of 71.8 when targeted last season.

His coverage statistics were even more impressive in 2019, however. When targeted, Mathis allowed a passer rating of only 47.6.

Penalties have been a consistent problem for Mathis. He has racked up 17 penalties over the past two seasons.

Mathis was projected by some outlets to be a third-round pick, so he is a good value in the fourth round.

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Mathis Is a ‘Major Steal’

Chris Trapasso of CBS Sports gave the pick an ‘A’ grade. He called Mathis a “supreme talent” and said he could be a “major steal”.

Supreme talent at CB. Rockets attached to his cleats, and he plays with an angry demeanor. Not super twitchy but elite recovery speed and his ball skills are quality. Tends to get overly grabby downfield. If that’s coached out of him, this is a major steal.


Other Analysts Are Not Completely Sold

In contrast, some analysts are not completely sold on Mathis.

NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein expressed concern over Mathis’s speed.

Mathis plays with good anticipation and ball skills but lacks the top-end speed and coverage tools needed to play pure press-man coverage. While he’s played Cover 3 with some modest success in college, he lacks the traits and poise to do so in the pros. He offers short and intermediate zone-cover talent as a cornerback or dime safety on the next level. His ability to help support the run from the slot could factor in his favor.

Bleacher Report’s Cory Giddings placed a seventh-round grade on Mathis, and he compared him to Kevin Peterson, who is on the Arizona Cardinals practice squad.

Giddings cited penalties and Mathis’s lack of top-end speed as key factors in his low grade.

When running downfield, he is limited in his top-end speed, causing him to get overextended and off balance. Mathis tends to panic when playing the ball downfield, mostly choosing to play the man and not locate the ball—often leading to a penalty or giving up a catch.

Playing into Mathis’ physicality, he performs well in the run game. He has willingness to tackle with quick reads and reaction to the play. He is a secure tackler who limits extra yards when able to front the ball carrier up. Mathis will need a specific scheme to help highlight his skills, and if given that, he still needs to improve his coverage skills.

It is noteworthy that both Zierlein and Giddings listed Mathis’s speed as a weakness when he recorded a really good 40-yard dash time.

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