The SEC's best 25 players: No. 14

Our next player in the countdown of the SEC's best 25 players ranks among the nation's best receivers in both career and 2012 production.

No. 14: Jordan Matthews, WR, Vanderbilt, Sr.

2012 summary: The All-SEC member produced a record-setting year for the Commodores, catching 94 passes for a single-season school record 1,323 yards. His 94 receptions last season ranks second all-time among SEC receivers. He also caught eight touchdown passes.

Most recent ranking: Ranked No. 23 in the 2012 postseason countdown.

Making the case for Matthews: Vandy's record-breaking wideout could have easily walked away from the college game and taken his talents to the NFL, but he decided to come back and become a bigger nightmare for opposing defensive backs. He led all SEC receivers with seven 100-yard receiving games and scored a touchdown in each of the Commodores' final five games of the 2012 season. He also caught fewer than five passes in a game only twice last year and dipped under the 50-yard mark just once. Matthews has tremendous hands, isn't scared to get physical with opponents and has track-star speed. He worked on hand-eye coordination during the offseason by boxing with teammate Andre Hal. That should help him become a bigger nuisance in one-on-one situations when it comes to catching the ball and fighting off defenders with his arms. With a sidekick like Chris Boyd lining up opposite him, it's tough for teams to double-team Matthews, which makes him that much deadlier for defenses. He can fly past people on straightaways or he can cut over the middle to mix things up. Matthews ranks as the active leader among SEC receivers with 150 catches and 2,290 yards and should be a top draft prospect at the receiver position next year.

The rundown

  • No. 15: Donte Moncrief, WR, Ole Miss, Jr.

  • No. 16: Dominique Easley, DT, Florida, Sr.

  • No. 17: Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M, RSo.

  • No. 18: Gabe Jackson, OG, Mississippi State, Sr.

  • No. 19: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama, Jr.

  • No. 20: Chris Smith, DE, Arkansas, Sr.

  • No. 21: Jordan Jenkins, OLB, Georgia, So.

  • No. 22: Craig Loston, S, LSU, Sr.

  • No. 23: Andre Hal, CB, Vanderbilt, Sr.

  • No. 24: Keith Marshall, RB, Georgia, So.

  • No. 25: Marcus Roberson, CB, Florida, Jr.