2017 NFL Draft Player Profiles; NC State RB Matthew Dayes

From now until the 2017 NFL Draft takes place, we hope to showcase as many prospects as possible and examine both their strengths and weaknesses. Most of these profiles will feature individuals that the Pittsburgh Steelers are likely to have an interest in, while a few others will be top-ranked players. If there is a player you would like us to analyze, let us know in the comments below.

Matthew Dayes/RB NC State – 5’8/5 207

The Good

– Big hands for frame (10 1/2 inches)
– Prototypical zone runner, plays within its structure with feet, technique, and eyes
– Excellent feet and ability to change direction, fluid hips, and can make third level defenders coming downhill miss
– Vision in zone schemes, quickly diagnoses and reads hat of linemen, makes decision on third step, cuts on fifth
– Shows above average burst and reaches speed quickly, finds and hits the hole in a hurry, can beat slower linebackers or those who take poor angles to the edge
– Attempts to square up in pass protection and gives effort, coachable
– Competent out of the backfield, used as a receiver and has some experience lining up as a receiver
– Lack of height improves pad level, shows leg drive, and though not innately powerful, can get 1-2 additional yards after contact

The Bad

– Will get knocked for size, short but not small
– Lacks long speed and may have trouble outrunning a lot of defensive backs, won’t test great
– Not innately powerful and struggles to run through arm tackles, will have problems along the goal line
– Contact balance is not great and goes down relatively easily
– Struggles to anchor in pass protection and recognition is spotty, will need work
– Fumbling concerns and ball security needs improved
– Has not proven himself to be a workhorse back


– Two year starter for Wolfpack
– Career: 550 carries, 2856 yards (5.2 YPC) 34 TDs, 98 receptions 6 TDs
– 2016: 249 carries, 1166 yards 10 TDs, 32 receptions
– Suffered left foot injury in early November of junior year, missed rest of the season, reportedly had ligament damage
– Minor kick return background, 28 career attempts for a 18.2 yard average
– Only one year of strong production in high school

Tape Breakdown

Dayes is pretty cut and dry to me. He’ll fit best in a zone heavy scheme because of his feet and eyes. He’s the guy Mike Shanahan or Alex Gibbs would look at and know they could make him into a 1000 yard rusher. And not many other belief systems will be able to get that out of him.

Because those are far and away his two best traits. His eyes and feet.

This is against Wake Forest in 2015 but Dayes shows the ability to get skinny through the hole, plant to change direction, make the safety miss, and immediately get up to speed to house this one.

Dayes has excellent vision on zone schemes. He follows his rules, making his decision and execution on the correct steps while showing vision and adherence to his zone rules. On this run, the interior DL’s hat stays down, the end remains as the force, and the safety comes over the top too. Dayes sees It and cuts upfield. Outside zone here. On his 7th step, he’s upfield.

But all is not perfect with him. His long speed is merely average and his power isn’t much beyond some leg drive and the built-in leverage. He’s tough but don’t confuse that with power.

There’s effort in pass pro and he does a nice job staying square but his technique needs work and at times, he can just get run over by bigger linebackers. Flattened by this MIKE coming up the A gap.

He fumbled three times in the regular season and once again on his first carry at this year’s Senior Bowl. Ball security is something he’ll have to be better at, too. Here’s one example from this year.

Again, Dayes is a fit for a zone-heavy team that doesn’t mean having a short back. His feet and eyes are really good, some of the better you’ll probably see, but he lacks any other defining physical characteristics. When you’re not that fast, not that powerful, and not exactly a huge threat in the pass game, it’s hard to envision a giant ceiling with him. A committee type unless, as I said, you get a Gibbs’ disciple, who can take his game to new heights no one else can.

Projection: Mid Day Three (5th Round)

Games Watched: at Wake Forest (2015), vs Notre Dame, at Clemson, at Vanderbilt, Senior Bowl

Previous 2017 NFL Draft Player Profiles
Deshaun WatsonHaason ReddickMarshon LattimoreCorey ClementTim Williams
Jourdan LewisTakkarist McKinleyBrad KaayaNathan PetermanO.J. Howard
Charles HarrisAlvin KamaraTyus BowserDavid NjokuDeMarcus Walker
Chidobe AwuzieDeShone KizerMarlon MackCameron SuttonZach Cunningham
Corey DavisCarl LawsonPatrick MahomesKareem HuntEvan Engram
Derek RiversRyan AndersonJoshua DobbsJordan LeggettSamaje Perine
Corn ElderBucky HodgesJames ConnerCooper KuppStanley Williams
Fred RossJamaal WilliamsGeorge KittleEjuan PriceChris Wormley
Jeremy McNicholsJoe MathisDerek BarnettAmba Etta-TawoGareon Conley
Taco Charlton Elijah McGuireRyan SwitzerTanoh KpassagnonTre’Davious White
Brian Hill

About the Author

Alex Kozora
Full-time blogger from mom's basement. Marrying tape and statistics. Chidi Iwuoma is my favorite Steeler of all-time.
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  • Steelers12

    “Lack Long Speed” why that is not a deal break this is why i prefer someone like Donnell Pumphrey to compliment Bell

  • Jeff Papiernik

    I like Pumphrey but feel like he’s too small to last in this league. I like Elijah McGuire

  • Alex Kozora

    He did come in bigger today at least. 176.

  • Steelers12

    he can add weight like Sproles maybe

  • BallHandling Hooker

    His pass protection looked exceptional at the Senior Bowl

  • Steeler4l1f3

    Alex, love all of the breakdowns. You guys keep us fanboys content with fresh content year round.

    I was wondering when will you start to breakdown Safety’s. I don’t believe that I’ve seen one yet. I’m really excited about the potential of drafting a hybrid $ backer or another Uber athletic Davis.

  • Alex Kozora

    I have Peppers on my short list. I think a couple other guys are looking at some, too. Ticking off some bigger needs first is really all it is.

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  • Shannon Stephenson

    I personally didn’t see any big weaknesses in his game and think he would be a great choice for us in the later rounds. Good all around back IMO.