Of all the running backs I’ve watched in this draft class so far, Matt Dayes was among the most entertaining. If you want to see a guy create for himself with cutting ability and vision, he’s your man. His film was a pure treat, I almost got up to make some popcorn (not really, but you get the point).
Dayes was the nucleus of N.C. State’s offense the past couple of years and played a huge part as they almost upset both Clemson and Florida State this past season, but couldn’t seal the deal late. Dayes was a bell-cow with the Wolfpack, and while he probably doesn’t have the frame to be the feature back in the NFL, his style and skillset presents long-term potential as an impact player in the NFL.
Name: Matthew Dayes
Size: 5’9” / 205 / 30” Arm Length / 10 1/2” Hands
School: North Carolina State
Comparison: Paul Perkins (New York Giants)
Draft Grade: Early 4th Round
Combine Results: Bench Press: 18 Reps / Vertical Jump: 28” / Broad Jump: 109”
— Jonathan Valencia (@JonValencia_WiB) March 29, 2017
Positives: Elusive and shifty in the open field. Excellent vision – especially in the 2nd level. Fluid and patient when approaching the pile. Lightning quick feet. Eats up short yardage quickly. Could be the best cutter in the draft class. Noticeable ankle flexion could be attributed for his cuts. Electric jump cutter. Creates instant space with on cue cuts. His “zig zagging” ability looks transitional to the next level. Waits till the last second to juke away from defender as they dive past – reminiscent of a breaking ankles type crossover in basketball. Sells the outside run with his eyes then swoops through the late developed running lane. Generates yardage even when the play looks dead. Packs a lot of punch for a 5’9” guy. Viable speed to win the outside corner. Quick acceleration – gets to top gear in a hurry. Continues to build speed entering the 2nd level. Strong leg drive. Keeps them pumping until the whistle. Slips away from wrap up tackles. Runs with good pad level to standup defenders – quickly regenerates quickness. Barrels forward to break the plane. Secures the ball – fumbled only 5 times during his four year college career. Displays good hands out of the backfield.
Negatives: Struggles to complete the breakaway plays. Tends to get tripped up by the last line of defense. Wide jump cut at the line of scrimmage which drives him back too much and leads to a big loss on occasion. Raw pass blocking technique. Doesn’t sell the play action well. Turf toe ended his 2015 season and lingered into spring drills this past season. Poor combine performance.
Outlook: Matt Dayes wasn’t someone I heavily monitored during the regular season, but I came away extremely impressed after evaluating his film. I sat there in awe run after run. I absolutely love the way he runs. At 5’9” and barely over 200 pounds, you would think he’s bigger than that with the way he can push the pile and break tackles. Dayes mixes his elite cutting ability with superb vision which allows him to create at the line of scrimmage even if nothing is originally open. He runs hard and far outdoes his listed size. Dayes will have a longtime role in the NFL. While his frame won’t allow him to manage 15+ carries a game, he can be a solid lead back in a committee. The type of guy who provides the spark and is complimented by a power back. In this class he grades out as an early 4th rounder for me, but I would even feel comfortable taking him in the 3rd round