Jordan Matthews eager to play with Tyrod Taylor, keep representing 2014 WR draft class - The Buffalo News
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Jordan Matthews eager to play with Tyrod Taylor, keep representing 2014 WR draft class

Twenty-four hours after the Philadelphia Eagles traded him, Buffalo Bills receiver Jordan Matthews still doesn't know what to think about the sudden development.

Shock, betrayal, edginess, excitement, indifference, nausea ...

Matthews needs more time to sort through his emotions before commenting.

"Feelings are always real, but they're not always true," Matthews told me by phone Saturday morning, his first interview since being traded. The Bills sent cornerback Ronald Darby for Matthews and a third-round draft choice.

"I'm still trying to dissect what's real and what's true as I move forward."

The trade caught Matthews unawares. His contract is up after this season. He said the Bills before executing the trade did not make overtures to his agent about any willingness to sign an extension.

One opinion Matthews didn't hesitate to deliver regarded his new quarterback.

Matthews leaves on-the-job trainee Carson Wentz in Philly and will catch passes from Tyrod Taylor.

"Tyrod's a great asset to the Bills," Matthews said. "To be able to play with him is going to be awesome because I already know what kind of person he is."

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Matthews two years ago participated in offseason workouts with Taylor, running back LeSean McCoy and left guard Richie Incognito in Arizona. Matthews also has experience training in Florida with Bills receiver Anquan Boldin.

"Tyrod works hard," Matthews said. "He was always the first guy in the building whenever we were training in Arizona.

"He definitely has a savvy about him, and he understands people. He's not one of those guys who was modeled to be a quarterback but has no people skills. He knows how to lead a locker room. He knows how to talk to the receivers, the rest of the offense and get everybody pulling in the same direction."

Matthews, a 2014 second-round draft choice, went through four starting quarterbacks in Philly: Nick Foles, Mark Sanchez, Sam Bradford and Wentz. The Eagles went 24-24 in those three seasons, never reaching the playoffs.

Taylor will be Matthews' first quarterback who is a dangerous runner, a trait Matthews praised.

"And I also think he has a chip on his shoulder," Matthews said. "When you go through history, the best quarterbacks always have a chip on their shoulders.

"I'm excited to see what he's going to do."

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Matthews is coach Sean McDermott's and GM Brandon Beane's type of man: a self-made overachiever.

Matthews studied economics at non-football factory Vanderbilt, the only Division I school to offer a scholarship.

He finished his career as the most prolific receiver in Southeastern Conference history, setting records with 262 catches for 3,759 yards. He caught a record 112 passes his senior season.

Then he became one of the more productive players from the legendary 2014 draft class that also produced Sammy Watkins, the Bills' fourth overall draft choice. The Bills on Friday traded Watkins and a sixth-round pick to the Los Angeles Rams for cornerback E.J. Gaines and a second-rounder.

"It's an interesting conversation because I thought about coming out the year before," Matthews said of the 2014 draft. "I probably would've gotten picked higher if I did, but I don't regret going in the class I did.

"Being amongst that group of guys definitely makes you elevate your level of play."

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Matthews is aware his stats will be measured against Watkins' on a weekly basis even though they're not the same type of receiver.

Matthews claimed he won't worry about that comparison, but he did describe the healthy rivalries within the 2014 receiver class, headlined by Odell Beckham, Mike Evans, Allen Robinson and Jarvis Landry.

"There's a lot of talent, a lot of guys vying for position," Matthews said. "You look at Brandin Cooks' situation. Brandin wants to solidify himself with the guys at the top of our class along with the other guys who have made waves like Odell and Mike. Brandin wants to make that move, and he's in a good position with the Patriots to show what he can do.

"Odell and Jarvis -- I knew both of those guys coming out -- have always been competitive against each other. Then when you lump them in with the names like Kelvin Benjamin in Carolina, Allen Robinson and Marqise Lee with Jacksonville, even Quincy Enunwa who was about to be the Jets' No. 1 until he got his neck injury."

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Matthews ranks fourth in catches, sixth in yards and fifth in touchdowns among receivers from the 2014 draft class. Watkins ranks eighth, seventh and sixth in nine fewer games because of injuries.

Imagine the upcoming free-agent market. So many quality receivers are nearing the ends of their rookie deals.

"There hasn't been a receiver in our class to sign a second contract yet," Matthews said, "so when that kind of stuff happens that increases the competitiveness that much more."

Turning his focus back to Buffalo, Matthews bemoaned the time he has missed, all those voluntary practices, minicamp, a couple weeks of training camp and Thursday night's preseason opener.

"The beginning of training camp is always the most fun part, where you build a lot of camaraderie," Matthews said. "Once you get to the preseason games, you start knowing what the season's going to look like.

"In that aspect, I'm behind the 8-ball. So I'm concerned with learning what I need to know.

"I'm just thinking about getting my playbook and getting to work."

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