Today, I turned things over to Ken Moll, who two years ago was running the scouting department for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. Ken is the scout who ‘discovered’ Seahawks WO Chris Matthews, who excelled in Seattle’s Super Bowl loss to the Patriots two weekends ago. Here’s Ken’s story on identifying and signing Matthews.
“I try to do things geographically. During the spring, I hit as many pro days as I could, including Ball State, Louisville, Western Kentucky, Vanderbilt, University of Tennessee, anywhere in about a three- to five-hour circle. I didn’t go much further than that. I mean, I went to (University of Alabama-Birmingham) and Alabama one year, but pretty much I went to Kentucky every year. (Matthews) was a guy that I had marked, but we didn’t have a spot for him. He was a junior college kid, and he comes into Kentucky, and he has a decent junior year and a big senior year as far as amount of catches, more than (former UK teammate and present Packers WO Randall) Cobb. And he had really big hands, he had length, and ran OK at his pro day, though he didn’t have great speed. But he’s 6-5 and I bet he weighed more than 218 .. . and really refined his route-running his second year at UK.
“We had lost a guy named Greg Carr, a big tall kid from Florida State, and he was a good player for us the year before, and after the second year, he was one of the free agents we wanted to resign and we didn’t get it done. (Carr) was very similar to (Matthews). (Winnipeg GM) Joe (Mack) and I got on the horn and we wanted to find another big receiver, and I remembered him, and he didn’t run great, he ran OK, but he could catch the crap out of the ball and was just so big. On turf at (Kentucky’s) indoor facility, he ran in the upper 4.6 range, but had enough functional speed that he wasn’t awkward or gawky. He could run for a big guy, and the catches you saw him make in the Super Bowl, he did that all the time in the CFL. You don’t find those big guys up in the CFL, and at times, he was covered but he wasn’t covered. He was just so big. He was tougher than this Carr kid. Chris was a little shorter but thicker and could go in traffic and get it.
“I’m pretty sure, when I found him, I tried to call and I think he was in Arena Ball at the time, and I remember getting on the phone with him and I think we just took my numbers from a year before (and signed him without working him out). Who knows? He could have looked like a cabdriver, but I’m big on working a guy out again, at least weigh and measure, but I think we took him sight unseen and they loved him up there, and they said, ‘wow, where do you find these big guys that can catch,’ and all I can tell you is, he runs fast enough.
“You only have enough room for a (certain number) of guys, and we didn’t’ want to have five receivers that were 6-4 or 6-5. Chris didn’t have a lot of run-after-the-catch ability, and half the time he was covered, but he’d just reach over guys and make catches. In the practices, the coaches would love him. If you don’t have the speed — I mean, you can’t be flat-out slow — but I said, OK, I need to find a big guy. I mean, Carr had ran like a 4.54 or something like that, and they were similar in route-running, but the whole package was better. Chris was a little stronger, a little more competitive, and caught the ball slightly better.”