2022 NFL Draft Scouting Report: Damarri Mathis

Damarri Mathis

The later-round guys are flying under the radar in an NFL draft class filled with high-end cornerbacks. Pittsburgh’s Damarri Mathis is one of these players. Mathis, a former three-star prospect out of high school, has been a constant at the cornerback position at Pittsburgh throughout the 2018, 2019, and 2021 seasons. Unfortunately, in 2020, Mathis went down with a non-football, undisclosed injury in August that cost him to be out for the whole season. This evidently hurt Mathis’ draft stock, as most still regard him as a day three prospect. However, Mathis must be evaluated in full to determine if he should go higher or lower than initially projected. 

Make sure to check out all of our other NFL Draft Scouting Reports.

Player Bio

Name: Damarri Mathis
Jersey: No. 21
Position: Cornerback
School: Pittsburgh
Class: Senior
Height: 5’11”
Weight: 195 lbs

Games Watched: Clemson (2021), Wake Forest (2021), Syracuse (2019), Virginia (2019)

Major Injury History: Non-Football Season-Ending Injury (2020)

Player Breakdown

Man Coverage (12.5/15)

Mathis has excellent mirroring ability and does a nice job to sink his hips, though there are still some big issues. The number one film across all games (not just the ones in his younger years) was that Mathis gets dusted on curls. He struggles to stop on a dime when a receiver is cutting back, and teams did expose this. In 2021, he did a better job of stopping these curl routes, and that included getting more physical with receivers. It was also in 2021 that Mathis looked a lot bigger frame-wise, allowing him to have more functional strength on the field. Overall, Mathis has his flaws in man coverage but has the tools to be an exceptional lockdown defender. 

Zone Coverage (12.25/15)

Pittsburgh runs a heavy man set, so Mathis doesn’t really project to be a zone defender at the next level, but he’s no slouch in this coverage area either. Mathis is quick to get to his zone. Sometimes, he can be a little too robotic when doing so, focusing more on what the playbook calls for rather than the routes developing on the field. What Mathis does well is disguising his coverage for quite some time. He often can stick to a man early but use his speed to drop back into the necessary space. This is when Mathis plays his best zone coverage, rather than him just dropping in right away. 

Instincts (8.25/10)

Mathis is an instinctual player who has a bright football IQ. He checks the receiver’s hips a lot to predict where the next cut will be. If a team beats him one time with one route, he often puts that in the back of his head and locks it down the next time out. In fact, this is where we see the most improvement from Mathis. Against Syracuse in 2019, they beat him on a curl route maybe five-or-six times. In 2021, he did get beat but was able to lock it down next time out by reading the receiver’s body. 

Ball Skills (8/10)

This is Mathis’ most inconsistent area. The Pittsburgh corner has shown tremendous flashes with his ball skills, including early on in his career. A big knock on Mathis’ ball skills is that he does not turn his head early enough. However, when playing to his highest potential, Mathis will position his body really well to make a play on the ball. Against Clemson and future NFL receiver Justyn Ross, Mathis was able to clamp Ross and outmuscle him at the point of catch for an interception. While inconsistent, Mathis’ ball skills have serious potential to develop into something special. 

Press/Physicality (7.5/10)

Not only does beat primarily play man coverage, but they also feature a heavy dosage of press. While Mathis isn’t always tasked with getting his hands on in the jam, he does well to be physical throughout the route. Sometimes, he can be a bit too physical. Mathis was called for two passing interference penalties against Syracuse. This didn’t happen again in the film, but it shows he can be a tad grabby. Another concern is when Mathis does try and jam, he can lunge at the receiver rather than just relying on his technique and applying hands early. You’d like these negatives to be cleaned up, but at least Mathis embraces the physicality in an attempt to shut the receiver down. 

Long Speed (8.5/10)

Mathis ran a 4.39 40-yard dash, which doesn’t even seem like a lot anymore with this historically fast class. However, this time is still blazing. It also shows in the film as Mathis is rarely beat deep. When he is, it’s more a technique issue or just a failed jam off the line which essentially takes him out of the play. The biggest note on the long speed is that it needs control. Those curl routes that beat Mathis come from him getting into his strides a bit too early. Otherwise, in the deep areas of the field, Mathis is able to neutralize virtually any route sent his way. 

Tackling/Run Support (6.25/10)

This is another one of those areas that you are skeptical about with Mathis at first, and then you see the flash plays. Mathis isn’t the most involved run support/tackler, although this did improve in 2021. Even in the earlier years, Mathis was able to shed a block so cleanly on a screen to come up with a big tackle for loss against Virginia. He has an alpha mentality when tackling, so when Mathis does get involved, his teammates love to rally around him. 

Athleticism (9.75/10)

When you look at the film, athleticism jumps off the charts and the testing backs it up. Mathis posted a ridiculous 9.7 raw athletic score in the pre-draft testing process. We know about the 40-yard dash, but the explosion testing made the difference. With a 43.5-inch vertical jump, and an 11-foot broad jump, the explosiveness is absurd, and it’s shown on film. Mathis’ explosion is his best attribute and an auspicious one for a player with such potential. 

Change of Direction (4.5/5)

As you can probably guess, due to the athletic prowess Mathis has already displayed, he’s a really nice mover. The Pittsburgh corner is fluid throughout his rep. This allows him to combine all his closing speed and explosion to mirror properly and effectively. There are times when Mathis is a tad slow to turn, but like almost everything in Mathis’ play, the improvement from 2019 to 2021 was evident. 

Length (3.5/5)

At 5-foot-11, Mathis is not the longest corner in the world. Nevertheless, he’s proven time and time again that he doesn’t need all that much length to play out on the boundary. Mathis still has no issue getting up to the catch point to not a ball away, nor does he have short enough arms to get completely knocked away in the press. Mathis is able to make the most of his length, even if it’s shorter than some other corners. 

Player Summary

With Mathis, we are looking at a corner who isn’t just a sleeper in this draft but a legitimate potential star in the NFL. The athletic testing, and raw talent, show that Mathis can be a very good corner with time. We mentioned earlier how some still see this guy as a day three player. However, this would be nearly a crime if Mathis were to fall this far. Anything from the mid-second round to early third round is the sweet spot for where Mathis should be drafted, even with the high amount of talent in this corner class.

Rookie Projection: Rotational Boundary Corner

Third-Year Projection: Mid-Tier Starting Corner

Player Grade (81/100): Late Second-Round Pick

Pro Comparison: Ronald Darby

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Main Image Credit: Embed from Getty Images

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