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Greg Cosell says Ryan Mathews can be a “top five guy”

Ryan Mathews Pic Getty Images

The Chargers haven’t kept it a secret this offseason that they want third-year tailback Ryan Mathews to handle a significant 2012 workload. Coach Norv Turner believes Mathews is “ready to take that next step,” and has likened Mathews to Ricky Williams, who carried the football 383 times in 2002 and 392 times in 2003, when Turner was the Dolphins’ offensive coordinator.

I interviewed Greg Cosell of NFL Films late last week, and the game-tape guru is smitten with Mathews’ talent.

really like his skill set,” said Cosell. “Obviously, he came out and they traded up to take him with the 12th pick because they saw him, truly, as a foundation back. And that’s what Norv Turner likes to have — a foundation back. I think he’s got the skill set to be that.

“I think he’s quick. I think he’s got short-area burst. I think he’s got some speed. There’s nothing about the way he runs that I don’t like. … I think in terms of running skill set, if I’m to look at backs in the league, I think he could be a top-five guy.”

Cosell allowed that Mathews has some obstacles to overcome if he’s to fulfill his lofty potential. Cosell cited Mathews’ history of fumbling — an issue that once plagued Adrian Peterson in Minnesota — as well as displaying the running “mindset” required of true NFL workhorses.

“One of the things about being one of those kinds of backs, where you truly are asked to carry 17, 18, 23, 24 times a game, depending on the game, there’s a mental element to that, as well as a physical element,” Cosell explained. “Because you have to have a mindset to be able to do that in the third and fourth quarter.

“A lot of guys have great skill, but when you’re asked to carry the ball over and over and over again against defenses that hit you … I mean, LaDainian Tomlinson just talked about this in an interview — about getting hit hard on every play. There’s a mindset that goes along with that. And I think we’ll have to see. This will be the year we see if Ryan Mathews truly has that mentality.”

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27 Responses to “Greg Cosell says Ryan Mathews can be a “top five guy””
  1. thekromblog says: Jul 1, 2012 5:34 PM

    God I hope so

  2. pacmantriggerman says: Jul 1, 2012 5:39 PM

    They have been saying that since they drafted him. (yawn)

  3. jaimelh02 says: Jul 1, 2012 5:55 PM

    I drafted him last yr in my fantasy football draft and have watched him since he was a rookie. He’s never gonna reach top 5 running backs in the league. I see him more as a Deauce Mcallister/Warrick Dunn type of back. Shows flashes of greatness but just not consistent or physically gifted enough to be great

  4. yelix says: Jul 1, 2012 5:58 PM

    I don’t see him ever being better than just good. He gets hurt a little too much, has some fumbling problems, and occasionally it seems like he doesn’t have his heart in the game.

  5. matthewcarlson1 says: Jul 1, 2012 6:50 PM

    Nope i dont think so.. we wouldve seen some evidence by now if he was gonna be that good.

  6. chargersfan4life says: Jul 1, 2012 7:00 PM

    As a Chargers fan, I remeber the days of LT2 best running back of the chargers. During his great career he had a great Full Back to lead the way for him. If you noticed LT2’s productions dropped off after they got rid of him. Ryan Matthews made it in the top 10 of nfl players with total yards, and that was not will a great full back. Ryan Matthews break out season will be this year with the installment of Le’ron McClain. Also, other teams have to worry about Mr. 17 cuz that was an off year for him. Ryan Matthews top 5 half back in the upcoming season, better draft him in fantasy football or you will regret it.

  7. dryzzt23 says: Jul 1, 2012 7:32 PM

    I respect Cosell much more than Jaworski or any of the other talking heads.

  8. atwatercrushesokoye says: Jul 1, 2012 7:36 PM

    Who’s Mrs. 17 gonna throw it to? His broken down tight end? The never lived up to his potential as a number 2 receiver? Or the large group of other teams return specialists and number 4 receivers that they signed to fill in for their departed true number 1 receiver?

    If the Dolts are going to do anything this year it’ll be because Matthews carried them to it… In other words they’re going nowhere this year.

  9. humb0lt says: Jul 1, 2012 7:47 PM

    First, let’s dispense with this LT2 BS. There is only one LT – LaDainian Tomlinson. You can call that other guy crack LT if you want. But not LT. Respect the initials. Dude who abuses his life with crack and underage hookers doesn’t deserve that respect.

    Now, let’s talk RM. Ryan has all the skills to be a big time back. His burst is as good as there is in the NFL today. Those who say he isn’t tough enough to keep taking hits late into the game know nothing about Mathews. Dude has NEVER shied away from taking a hit or delivering one. Ask Lance Briggs and Brian Urlacher. Mathews has made both these guys look silly on plays.

    Ryan may lack the elite top end speed with which to-out run an entire secondary to the goal line from the other side of the 50 – something Bolts fans came to expect from LT regularly. But that is OK, because it keeps the Bolts’ offense on the field longer. And this offense is going to score, it will be unstoppable. Ryan Mathews will be a big part of that.

    The San Diego Chargers Super Bowl Express is ready to roll. Rookies report July 25.

  10. atwatercrushesokoye says: Jul 1, 2012 8:01 PM

    Humbolt: I’m guessing the “San Diego Chargers Super Bowl Express” will end exactly like every other year in Chargers history, breaking down well before the Super Bowl.

    Oh and there’s only one LT and he’s not the guy who pouted on the bench the year your team should have gone to the Super Bowl.

  11. grogansheroes says: Jul 1, 2012 8:50 PM

    He is Laurence Maroney part deux!

  12. cmahdavi says: Jul 1, 2012 8:51 PM

    Humbolt:

    I doubt the San Diego offense will be unstoppable..The Giants stopped both the Pats and Packers and while I think Rivers is a good quarterback (how good is up for debate) he isn’t an MVP type like Brady or Rodgers. Some take a breath from whatever you are smoking…

    Second your Ryan Matthews “burst” that you are describing?… Are you kidding me?! Yes the dude has some decent acceleration but best in the league?! Comon man. Just saying and wishing it doesn’t make it so.

    And if you are going to argue Matthews having a few good plays against Urlacher/Briggs makes him great…What about those plays where his ball handling skills made whoever tackled him look like a pro bowler…After all they stopped the great Ryan Matthews with his league leading burst and even stripped the ball…Wow we must have some hall of famers playing nickel and dime backs for some teams… And I think I remember Ryan Matthews running out of bounds at least once…so your claim about him (in all caps for emphasis remember) NEVER shying away from hits … Again…just emotional and sounding like a 12 year old from Carlsbad who thinks every year the Chargers are the best at every position, have the greatest Coach, GM, Owner, Stadium, Sodas, and Cheerleaders… (but for the record the Charger girls are pretty hot)

  13. sd5547 says: Jul 1, 2012 8:59 PM

    I think he can be a good back in this league along the lines of an Edgerran James. But he does not make enough guys miss in the open field to be elite. He also needs to stay healthy, pick up the blitz, and stop fumbling but the talent is there to be a top five back.

  14. raiderapologist says: Jul 1, 2012 9:06 PM

    humb0lt says: Jul 1, 2012 7:47 PM

    First, let’s dispense with this LT2 BS. There is only one LT – LaDainian Tomlinson. You can call that other guy crack LT if you want. But not LT. Respect the initials. Dude who abuses his life with crack and underage hookers doesn’t deserve that respect.
    ———
    It might seem odd that humb0lt believes football players can’t be great unless they are also upstanding citizens, but he also believes the Chargers are the best team in the league every year, despite decades of evidence to the contrary. I give Tomlinson credit for being a Raider killer during his time with San Diego, but Taylor was on a much higher plane as a player. Respect the game.

  15. villa41 says: Jul 1, 2012 9:10 PM

    humb0lt says:Jul 1, 2012 7:47 PM
    And this offense is going to score, it will be unstoppable. Ryan Mathews will be a big part of that.

    The San Diego Chargers Super Bowl Express is ready to roll.
    ———————————————————

    You like to come into the Raider forums so right back at ya.

    Sorry, pal. It all starts upfront, always does, and the Chargers O-line is going to be one of the worst in the league. Mathews could have the skill set of Jim Brown (which he doesn’t), and it wouldn’t matter. There’s going to be very little room for Mathews to roam, and pick machine Rivers is going to be going down hard all season and running for his life. The pressure Rivers will be under will lead to more picks than he had last year.

    Super Bowl express? Yeah, right. The Chargers will be in a bowl this season alright……try the Toilet Bowl. That’s the only place San Diego’s turd offense is going to take them.

  16. randallflagg52 says: Jul 1, 2012 9:49 PM

    Matthews has talent, but in an NFL today that has the likes of guys like Ray Rice, MJD, Foster, and Peterson as set in stone top backs and the second tier consisting of guys like Gore, Jackson, Lynch, McCoy, Chris Johnson and Forte it’s tough to say he will be top 5.

  17. chargersfan4life says: Jul 1, 2012 10:23 PM

    humb0lt says: Jul 1, 2012 7:47 PM

    First, let’s dispense with this LT2 BS. There is only one LT – LaDainian Tomlinson. You can call that other guy crack LT if you want. But not LT. Respect the initials. Dude who abuses his life with crack and underage hookers doesn’t deserve that respect.
    ———————————————————

    Original LT is Lawrence Taylor that is why LaDainian Tomlinson is known as LT2. My gosh really?!!

  18. saintkobal says: Jul 1, 2012 10:49 PM

    Anyone think that Clay Mathews had another brother coming into the NFL when they first read the headline?

  19. bmac77 says: Jul 1, 2012 11:23 PM

    I agree it all starts up front but how exactly does the exact same o-line group go from being near the top of the league the last 5 games of last season to being the worst in the league after their first real off season together? I’d also be interested in hearing how a qb with an extraordinary low interception rate is all of a sudden a pick machine after 1 bad (for his standards) season? I think you need to check your numbers.

    RM is not there yet but comparing him to Deuce, W. Dunn, & James? These backs are nowhere near RM’s talent level, you guys are seriously underestimating his abilities. As far as taking hits, this is the major area that concerns me. Rhino, as he’s nicknamed, plays like one and often will engage in contact when it’s not necessary…this has led to his injuries. If RM can take a page out of LT’s book & learn how to take a hit & play smart, it’ll lead to more opportunities, fewer fumbles & better production. When this happens, RM has all the tools & help in place to absolutely be a top five back in my opinion.

  20. rickyspanish says: Jul 1, 2012 11:32 PM

    randallflagg52

    I agree, there a lot of good backs in the league. Matthews may be top five this year, but there’s been little evidence. We will have to see how this plays out. Football is s day closer than it was yesterday. Soon we will be reading posts with substance instead of Drew “Motor Mouth” Brees pissing and moaning about everything.

  21. b1gwin says: Jul 1, 2012 11:58 PM

    Little wonder Matthews hasnt exactly set the NFL on fire. He was GIVEN his idols spot at Rb….he didnt earn it. Dolts front office made the mistake of annointing the guy w/o him having to earn his oil.

  22. warrenpeacephotography says: Jul 2, 2012 4:13 AM

    Somebody called Ron Jaworski “one of the talking heads?” I don’t think you have any idea what you’re talking about, guy…

  23. joetoronto says: Jul 2, 2012 5:27 AM

    Mathews is lacking what almost every one of his teammates is lacking, toughness and heart.

    He’s the perfect Charger.

  24. lionsgofrompitytofearin3years says: Jul 2, 2012 6:16 AM

    I’ll believe it when I see it.

  25. therealganggreen13 says: Jul 2, 2012 7:40 AM

    Jaimelh02..hes like deuce and warrick dunn? Those are 2 complete opposite type backs.

  26. slickster35 says: Jul 2, 2012 10:29 AM

    Ryan Mathews might be a top 5 RB…….in his own division. In the latter half.

  27. tomsd1 says: Jul 2, 2012 10:30 AM

    Matthews also had an injury history/playing soft at Fresno State – but THE LORD OF NO RINGS was desperate to bring in a big time RB – so he could say: See – we don’t miss LT – or even All-Pro WR Vincent Jackson one bit………………………….

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