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While He May Lack Elite Speed, Alexander Mattison Still Deserves Your Attention

Now that we have official combine results for the majority of the 2019 NFL Draft class, it’s time for a quick review of former Boise State Broncos’ running back Alexander Mattison.1

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 (69 percent). Over the past three seasons he’s been one of the most productive dual-threat RBs in the country.

AGE AND PRODUCTION

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 using 130 adjusted all-purpose yards per game as the breakout threshold. 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 AgeTotalHitsPercent HitAvg Best PPR
<=21622743.5%187.1
>21541222.2%130.2
None911112.1%93.7

Mattison just narrowly missed hitting this mark in 2018 finishing with 129 adjusted all-purpose yards per game but given his age and proximity to the cutoff, I believe this is a positive indicator.

ATHLETICISM

My main hesitation about going all-in on Mattison pre-combine was his athletic ability. And aside from a terrific showing in the broad jump (127”), Mattison’s combine results point to a relatively average athlete.

As a smaller-school prospect destined to be questioned about quality of opponent when discussing his production, he needed to make a big splash at the combine to solidify his chances at being drafted but he failed to do so.

OUTLOOK

Despite his underwhelming combine showing there are reasons to like Mattison. He accounted for 64 percent of his team’s rushing yardage while averaging 2 receptions per game over the last two seasons. He’s also one of the youngest RBs in this draft class. But with Draft Scout projecting him outside the top-30 at the position and squarely in undrafted territory, the likelihood of him finding immediate opportunity at the next level is diminished. While I’ve cooled a bit on Mattison from where I had him ranked before the combine, his age, production, and burst keep him on my board as a priority mid-to-late round rookie pick.

  1. The original, pre-combine version of this article was published on December 29th, 2018.  (back)

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