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Alexander Mattison: Not Such a Bad Pick After All

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NFL: Oakland Raiders at Minnesota Vikings Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

When the Vikings picked Alexander Mattison with the last pick of the third round of this year’s NFL draft, #102 overall, there was consternation among some fans and analysts.

First, Vikings’ GM Rick Spielman had traded down multiple times from his original #81 third-round pick, collecting a 5th round pick, three 6th round picks, and a 7th round pick in the process. Those picks yielded Cameron Smith, Oli Udoh, Marcus Epps, and Kris Boyd, while also allowing the Vikings to trade up to get Dru Samia.

Moving back so many times for what many consider a bunch of garbage picks is one thing, but missing out on better running backs is another.

After all, the Bears traded up to get David Montgomery ahead of the Vikings at #73. Montgomery was the 4th running back taken in the draft, after Josh Jacobs (#24 - OAK), Miles Sanders (#53 - PHI), and Darrell Henderson (#70 - LAR).

Devin Singletary was also taken just after Montgomery at #74 by Buffalo, while the Patriots swooped in to nab Damien Harris at #87.

That left Alexander Mattison as the 7th running back selected in the 2019 draft. Bryce Love, Justice Hill, Benny Snell and Tony Pollard were taken later in the 4th round.

Analyst Reaction

Most of the love among analysts for running back picks in the immediate aftermath of the draft was for the Bears moving up to take David Montgomery in the first part of the 3rd round, and for the Patriots taking Damien Harris late in the 3rd round.

Maurice Jones-Drew over at nfl.com ranked Mattison 25th in the 2019 draft class among running backs, calling him a, “stiff runner with limited open-field moves.” Meanwhile he ranked Harris #2 and Montgomery #3 after Josh Jacobs - the only RB selected in the first round.

What’s Happened Since

But since the draft, and now that we’re six games into the regular season, things look a little different.

  • For starters, Alexander Mattison leads the 2019 running back class in yards per attempt at 5.3, among RBs with over 10 carries. He is also second only to Josh Jacobs in total rushing yards with 252.
  • Mattison’s Elusive Rating [(Missed Tackles Forced) / (Designed Run Attempts + Receptions) * (Yards After Contact Per Attempt * 100)] is 3rd behind Jacobs and Tony Pollard.
  • Mattison also leads the draft class in Breakaway % (% of yards from big plays- rushes of 15+ yards) at 52.4%.
  • Mattison’s yards after contact (3.38) is only behind Jacobs and Pollard as well.
  • Mattison is also tied with Josh Jacobs for most rushes over 10 yards (11), despite having just over half as many attempts.

Meanwhile, David Montgomery, despite a lot of hype before the season began, has been somewhat disappointing since, averaging just 3.3 yards/carry, and only 2.16 yards after contact. He has been described a couple times as slow, which has negated his ability to break tackles. He’s had the most carries (69) of any rookie RB outside of Jacobs, but hasn’t made much of his opportunities - only 2 carries of over 10 yards.

Miles Sanders, taken in the 2nd round by the Eagles, has averaged only 3.4 yards/carry, and Darrell Henderson, the 3rd RB selected in the draft, has only 7 carries for 39 yards.

And Damien Harris? Well, the Patriots haven’t seen fit to put him on the active roster yet, despite Jones-Drew’s assessment of him being one of the running backs ‘ready from day one’ in this year’s draft.

Bottom Line

Alexander Mattison has done very well since being drafted by the Vikings to replace Latavius Murray with the last pick on Day Two of the 2019 NFL Draft. Apart from Josh Jacobs, I’m not sure any of the other backs selected were meant to be feature backs, rather than second backs in a RB-by-committee type role - like Mattison.

Mattison has proven to be the best of those among this year’s rookie RB draft class, and comparable in most respects with first-round pick Josh Jacobs.

He’s also done better than Latavius Murray in both yards/carry and total yards so far this season, and looks to be a solid back behind Dalvin Cook for years to come.

Poll

Was Alexander Mattison a good use of the 102nd pick in the 2019 NFL draft?

This poll is closed

  • 96%
    Yes, he’s proving to be among the better RBs in this draft class, and the Vikings got more players that made the team besides
    (2255 votes)
  • 3%
    No, another available player would have been better and added more value
    (75 votes)
2330 votes total Vote Now