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Finding The Positive: If Ryan Mathews Is Indeed The Pick

We've spent the past few weeks here on Battle Red Blog debating and voting on who we want Houston to take in the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft that kicks off this Thursday night.

But enough of that (for this post, at least) for now. I would say with confidence that an overwhelming amount (say, about 95%) of the readers and writers here are completely against the idea of drafting Fresno State running back Ryan Mathews with said pick in four days. And most of those reasons have been because of the desire for other positions to be addressed first. Or particular players (Earl Thomas, anyone?) because of where they played college ball maybe getting some of the bias here. Or maybe not (I'm not a UT homer but I think Earl would be an incredible fit here).

Regardless, the closer and closer we get to the draft, the name I keep hearing from more and more insiders is Ryan Mathews. Rumor is that Smithiak just absolutely loves the kid. He has worked out with the club and Daniel Jeremiah from Move The Sticks has said with certainty that if Mathews is there that he will be the pick.

The closer we get, the more and more I am thinking that this is going to happen. Now, this isn't a post where I'm going to throw my hands up in the air and fuss about how we all know more about football than Rick Smith or Gary Kubiak. Quite the opposite. A pretty big chunk of the Texans fan base was completely in "The Sky is Falling!" mode after the Brian Cushing pick last year. And that one worked out pretty well. So I'm willing to give them the benefit of the doubt at this draft thing.

So, if Mathews is the pick and after we all get over it, how would he fit in the Texans backfield in 2010?

The phrase I keep hearing about Mathews and the Texans is "perfect fit." He is listed at 5′11″ and weighs in at 218 pounds. He’s got a strong, bulky frame and is very physical, which would help when it comes to blocking to help protect Matt Schaub. He doesn’t hop around or get happy feet when he carries the ball. He hits the hole with authority, which is great for the one cut and go method of the Zone Blocking Scheme Houston runs. Very quick, too, as he showed at the combine by posting a 4.45 in the 40-yard dash. He has great vision, a formidable stiff arm and amazing balance. He’s also been described as being very patient by letting blocks develop to create running lanes. He isn’t going to fake linebackers out of their shoes like Steve Slaton does/did, but he can read them pretty well. Many scouts are saying he could end up being the best back in this draft when it's all said and done.

"I’d have to say my strengths are my vision and being able to get north and south," says Mathews. "I’m not a finesse runner, but I can get the ball downfield and I can break for big yards."

Some of the cons against Mathews is that he is just a two-down back, he misses blocking assignments, and is very inconsistent in catching the ball out of the backfield. He also wasn’t very good at making people miss in the open field. Then there is the concerns about how he had a great offensive line playing against inferior competition while at Fresno State. All valid concerns, but in my opinion these are things that are coachable.

Of course I'd rather have C.J. Spiller if I had to take a RB in the first round this year, but that's about as unlikely as Joe Haden falling to us there. But, regardless of who you want, how do you think Ryan Mathews would fit as a Texan if the rumors turn out to be true and his name is called at #20 this Thursday night? Fire away in the comments below.