Alexander Mattison was set to lead the Boise State Broncos against the Boston College Eagles in the First Responder Bowl but Mother Nature had other plans. Now officially declared for the NFL Draft, Mattison will shift his focus to preparing for the next level. The 5-foot-11, 211-pound junior is one of the youngest, most productive running backs in the 2019 class. How should he be valued in rookie drafts this summer?
THE EARLY YEARS
As a three-star prospect from San Bernardino, CA, Mattison rushed for 4,074 yards and 48 touchdowns in his final two high school seasons. He received scholarship offers from a handful of Pac-12 schools but eventually enrolled at Boise State in February of 2016. As a true freshman he managed a modest 67-328-4 rushing line playing behind entrenched-starter Jeremy McNichols. This equated to a 0.15 First-Year Workhorse Score, below the desired 0.25 threshold found to be a good indicator of future NFL success.
2017 AND BEYOND
With McNichols off to the NFL, Mattison assumed lead back duties for the Broncos putting up a 212-1,086-12 line on the ground in 2017. He also finished fifth on the team in both receptions (28) and yards receiving (284). In all, Mattison accounted for 24 percent of his team’s total yards, tied for seventh nationally among all RBs.
He expanded his role even further as a junior in 2018, finishing seventh in the country in yards rushing (1,415) and tied for fourth in rushing TDs (17). Only David Montgomery finished with a higher percentage of rushing yards and TDs than Mattison’s 69 percent. Over the past three seasons, Mattison has been one of the most productive dual-threat RBs in the country.
Mattison’s raw statistical profile is impressive on its own. But when we add age into the equation, his outlook gets even better. Blair Andrews showed that RBs that play their rookie season at age-21 have produced a top-24 PPR season over 40 percent of the time. That’s nearly double the rate of their older counterparts. Mattison turns 21 next June.
Anthony Amico blended age and production in his RB Breakout study showing the importance of early-career dominance. He used 130 adjusted all-purpose yards per game as the breakout threshold. Mattison just narrowly missed hitting this mark in 2018 finishing with 129 adjusted all-purpose yards per game. RBs with a breakout season before turning 21 have an RB2 or better season at least once in their first three years nearly 44 percent of the time:
|Breakout Age||Total||Hits||Percent Hit||Avg Best PPR|
Mattison technically did not hit the required threshold needed for that high success rate. But given his age and proximity to the cutoff, I believe this is a positive indicator.
Draft position and athleticism are always key for RB prospects. So a more complete analysis of Mattison will have to wait until post-draft. But relying on the information we have now, he is shaping up to be on of my favorite prospects in this class. Based on the data above, I see the mid-second-round of dynasty rookie drafts as his realistic value floor.