The emergence of Damarri Mathis
You might scoff at this and say “what emergence” and to a degree, you have some merit. Damarri Mathis has certainly had an up-and-down rookie season since being selected in the fourth round out of Pitt. Against the Los Angeles Chargers, Matthis was constantly picked on and was penalized four times in coverage in his first time playing true starter minutes.
What impressed me about Matthis, however, was his ability to turn around the next week and put together a very good performance, albeit against the Zach Wilson-led New York Jets. He did allow 5 catches on 6 targets, but he only allowed 23 yards in coverage.
He followed that up with two rough games against Jacksonville and Tennessee, but he has shown steady improvement in his last three games against Baltimore, Las Vegas, and Carolina allowing only 83 yards in coverage. Considering it’s his rookie year, I am willing to call that a minor success for a fourth-rounder.
Moreover, compared to his peers in the class of 2022, he has stacked up. He has graded out better than third overall pick Derick Stingley Jr and he is allowing the 5th least yards per catch amongst all 24 rookie corners with 100 coverage snaps or more.
Given his health throughout the season, his inexpensive contract (just $1M against the cap next year), and the flashes he has shown, I think it’s worth entrusting the rookie with the starting role opposite of Patrick Surtain next year instead of relying on a 9-year NFL veteran with health issues coming off a torn ACL.