The 2023 NFL Draft defensive class is full of premier talent, and one of the players expected to hear his name called on Day 3 is Nebraska EDGE Ochaun Mathis. While most of the conversation has been focused on the top names in the class, what does Mathis’ scouting report suggest about his NFL Draft stock as he becomes the next in a long line of Mathises to reach the sport’s highest level?
Ochaun Mathis NFL Draft Profile
- Position: EDGE
- School: Nebraska
- Year: Sixth-Year Senior
Mathis was a three-star recruit and the No. 4-ranked weakside defensive end in Texas. Having also grown up in the state, Mathis committed to TCU over Oklahoma, Texas, and Texas Tech.
Mathis played in four games and maintained a redshirt season as a freshman, which he followed by starting at all 12 games in 2019. As a redshirt sophomore, Mathis tied for fifth on the team with 40 tackles and second with 9.0 tackles for loss with 2.5 sacks.
During a COVID-shortened campaign, Mathis led the Big 12 and ranked 12th nationally in sacks per game (0.9). His nine sacks were the most by a Horned Frog since 2017. Mathis finished third in the conference and 12th in the FBS with 14 tackles for a loss.
After being a second-team All-Big 12 honoree and honorable mention Big 12 Defensive Lineman of the Year, Mathis started all 12 games as a junior and placed fifth on TCU with 45 tackles.
After recording All-Big 12 honors for the second straight season, Mathis entered the transfer portal and committed to Nebraska after having already earned a degree from TCU. Mathis made an impact in his first season, playing extensively in every game while also recording two starts. He ranked second on the team with 3.5 sacks and added five tackles for loss with 50 total stops.
After declaring for the draft, Mathis participated in the East-West Shrine Bowl, where a positive performance in Vegas had many teams feeling he was no longer the gamble he once was.
At the NFL Combine, Mathis measured in at 6’5″ and 250 pounds with 35 1/4″ arms, 10 3/4″ hands, and an 84 3/4″ inch wingspan. Unfortunately, his testing numbers did not blow anyone away, running a 4.74 40-yard dash, albeit with an elite 1.59 10-yard split.
He jumped 33.5″ in the vertical and 9’10” in the broad but once again came in a bit below expectations with a 7.19 three-cone and a 4.38 20-yard shuttle. However, it should be noted Mathis did walk away with an 8.32 RAS.
As an older prospect, what does Mathis’ scouting report suggest are his strengths and weaknesses?
Tony Pauline’s Scouting Report for Ochaun Mathis
Strengths: Explosive and somewhat athletic pass rusher who breaks down well and is rarely off his feet. Slides off blocks and collapses down the line of scrimmage in pursuit of the action.
Displays good movement skills, easily changes direction, and catches the ball handler from the back side. Agile, quick if asked to twist or stunt, and plays with excellent speed. Has long arms that he uses to protect himself, is fast up the field, and makes a lot of athletic plays.
Weaknesses: Easily blocked or controlled at the point by a single opponent or by lesser competition. Occasionally comes out of a three-point stance and gets mauled on running downs. Never really developed his game.
Overall: When he played at TCU early in his college career, Mathis looked like a big pass-rushing prospect and dominated games. He really didn’t develop on the field or meet expectations and heads toward the draft as a late-round prospect. Mathis possesses the physical gifts to develop into a starting 3-4 outside linebacker, but he must quickly elevate his game.
Ochaun Mathis Combine Measurements and Results
- Height: 6’5″
- Weight: 250
- Arm Length: 35 1/4″
- Hand Size: 10 3/4″
- Bench Press: 21
- 40-Yard Dash: 4.74
- Vertical Jump: 33.5″
- Broad Jump: 9’10”
- Three-Cone Drill: DNP
- 20-Yard Shuttle: 4.38
Nebraska OL Ochaun Mathis Current Draft Projection
The EDGE class in the draft is one of the deeper positional groups. Will Anderson Jr. might be the best player in the whole draft and is closely followed by Myles Murphy, Tyree Wilson, Nolan Smith, Keion White, and even Lukas Van Ness.
Although not mentioned in the same category, Mathis could come off the board quicker than some assume. Currently, Mathis is the 235th-ranked player on Tony Pauline’s Big Board as the EDGE19 with a 3.31 grade and a draft projection that places him in the sixth round.
Entering the league at age 24 is risky, especially considering most players’ careers end at about age 25. However, it’s far more nuanced. Thanks to NIL and even the extra year of eligibility provided because of COVID, players who might not have developed by a particular age bracket received an opportunity to expand their skill set before being forced into making a decision.
Additionally, age does not speak to experience and reps on the field. That’s the case for Mathis and something he acknowledged at the Combine.
“Yes, they want a younger guy, and that has a real impact on me coming into the draft,” Mathis said in Indianapolis. “I didn’t want to get too old, you know, ruin the process of it. So just testing the waters, getting out there, and taking that leap of faith is one of the biggest things I have to do.”
Mathis’ 2020 season put him on the map. But did he ever live up to those expectations or remain relatively neutral? Is that a development trait or simply a product of the situation? That’s something NFL teams will have to figure out. While Mathis does have good size and length, hitting the weight room will be paramount. Luckily enough, he has a frame that can support more mass.
As a late-Day 3 prospect, Mathis will certainly have his work cut out for him if he wants to make it on a 53-man roster when camp breaks. With that said, he has some profile traits of guys who generally go later in Day 2, so there could be some surprises yet to come from Mathis.
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