3DownNation top 100 CFL players: No. 59 OL Ryker Mathews, B.C. Lions

Photo courtesy: Alex Lupul/AlexLupul.com

Every team needs a dependable blindside blocker and Ryker Mathews is one of the best in the CFL.

Mathews committed to Brigham Young University in 2011 as a three-star recruit. It was a natural fit for the native of American Fork, Utah, a town of 33,000 people located just twenty kilometres northwest of BYU’s campus.

Photo courtesy: Alex Lupul/AlexLupul.com

The offensive lineman started 33 games over four seasons with the Cougars, overlapping with New Orleans Saints’ quarterback Taysom Hill. The dual-threat pivot led an outstanding BYU rushing attack, recording 246 carries for 1,344 yards and ten touchdowns in 2013 alone.

Mathews tested well ahead of the NFL draft, running the forty-yard dash in 5.05 seconds and performing 23 reps on the bench press at six-foot-six and 316 pounds. BYU isn’t exactly an offensive line factory — only one Cougars’ offensive lineman has been drafted since 2005 — which didn’t help his stock.

Mathews was signed by the New Orleans Saints in May 2016 as an undrafted free agent. He was waived in August and placed on injured reserve before being released outright the following month.

That was when the blocker decided to head north, signing with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in July 2017. He appeared in nine games despite signing after the start of the regular season, quickly picking up the intricacies of the Canadian game.

Mathews became the full-time starter at right tackle in 2018 and played well enough to earn an opportunity with the New England Patriots. He didn’t make it to training camp with the Pats and returned to Hamilton at the end of May 2019.

Photo courtesy: Scott Grant/CFLPhotoArchive.com

The Ticats had the greatest regular season in franchise history last season, finishing with a 15-3 record. Mathews played left tackle all year with long-time Toronto Argonauts’ blocker Chris Van Zeyl taking over on the right side.

Mathews was named an East Division all-star and started the East Final and Grey Cup before becoming a free agent.

It’s no secret that the B.C. Lions had to upgrade their offensive line after a troubling 2019 season. The club invested heavily in Mathews on the first day of free agency, inking the 27-year-old to a two-year deal. He remains under contract with B.C. for 2021.

3DownNation is unveiling its list of the top 100 active CFL players, a project that will run through December 31, 2020. To read the criteria for player eligibility, click here. The list to date can be found below.

60. DB Tunde Adeleke, Hamilton Tiger-Cats
61. LB Jameer Thurman, Free Agent
62. QB Matt Nichols, Toronto Argonauts
63. DB Jamar Wall, Calgary Stampeders
64. DB Loucheiz Purifoy, Saskatchewan Roughriders
65. REC Lemar Durant, B.C. Lions
66. OL Brendon LaBatte, Saskatchewan Roughriders
67. OL SirVincent Rogers, Ottawa Redblacks
68. QB McLeod Bethel-Thompson, Free Agent
69. DB/RET Frankie Williams, Hamilton Tiger-Cats
70. DB T.J. Lee, B.C. Lions
71. QB Zach Collaros, Winnipeg Blue Bombers
72. SAM Anthony Cioffi, Free Agent
73. DB Shaquille Richardson, Toronto Argonauts
74. REC Kamar Jorden, Calgary Stampeders
75. OL Darius Ciraco, Hamilton Tiger-Cats
76. REC Jalen Saunders, Free Agent
77. QB Dane Evans, Hamilton Tiger-Cats
78. REC Brad Sinopoli, Ottawa Redblacks
79. RET Janarion Grant, Free Agent
80. DE Avery Ellis, Ottawa Redblacks
81. DE Cordarro Law, Calgary Stampeders
82. DB Brandon Alexander, Winnipeg Blue Bombers
83. OL Jermarcus Hardrick, Winnipeg Blue Bombers
84. DB Branden Dozier, Free Agent
85. SAM Otha Foster, Saskatchewan Roughriders
86. DB Antoine Pruneau, Ottawa Redblacks
87. RB John White, B.C. Lions
88. LB Avery Williams, Ottawa Redblacks
89. LB Jovan Santos-Knox, Free Agent
90. DB Richard Leonard, Calgary Stampeders
91. REC Armanti Edwards, Edmonton Football Team
92. RB C.J. Gable, Free Agent
93. DT Mike Rose, Calgary Stampeders
94. REC S.J. Green, Free Agent
95. DB Mike Edem, Saskatchewan Roughriders
96. DE John Bowman, Montreal Alouettes
97. DB Taylor Loffler, Montreal Alouettes
98. QB Nick Arbuckle, Ottawa Redblacks
99. ST Mike Miller, Winnipeg Blue Bombers
100. DE Chris Casher, B.C. Lions

John Hodge is a Canadian football reporter based in Winnipeg.