Bayron Matos brings infectious personality, strong desire to make Dolphins as Dominican-born undrafted rookie

MIAMI GARDENS — Dominican-born undrafted rookie offensive lineman Bayron Matos had an interesting — but essential — first English phrase learned when he moved to the United States at 17 years old: “I’m hungry.”

“Every time somebody used to ask me something, I say, ‘I’m hungry,’” he explained at Miami Dolphins rookie minicamp earlier this month, where he went back and forth answering questions in English and Spanish.

“B, ‘how are you?’ I say, ‘I’m hungry.’

“B, ‘you’re going to school today?’… ‘I’m hungry.’

“That’s my answer to everything, for like seven months.”

Now, Matos’ hunger comes in the form of trying to make the Dolphins’ roster this offseason as a tackle prospect with an infectious personality who has never played a down on the offensive line in college at USF.

To make it would make him the first NFL player born in the Dominican Republic to accomplish such a feat.

“Not just as a Dominican, but representing all Latin America,” he said in Spanish. “I’m pure Latino, and I’m very proud to represent my country and other Latin countries, too.”

Prideful of his heritage, Matos can readily list a top three Dominican athletes when pressed for it on the spot.

He says David Ortiz, also known as “Big Papi,” Pedro Martinez and Robinson Cano. Three baseball players, which is fitting, as about one out of every 10 Major League Baseball players hail from the Dominican Republic. He mentioned Cano and the New York Yankees’ Juan Soto as Dominican athletes that have reached out to him on his journey to make it in the NFL.

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And just because he didn’t go that route, don’t let that fool you on the diamond. He can still throw a 90 mph fastball.

But he originally moved to the U.S., first with a host family in Tennessee, from the Caribbean nation to play basketball. Al Horford and Karl-Anthony Towns, whose mother is Dominican although Towns was born in New Jersey, are some of his inspirations on the hardwood.

Matos, listed at 6-foot-7, 313 pounds, played in the post as a power forward with the USF basketball team.

But where he has the potential to make an impact as a professional is in football. He walked onto the Bulls’ football team and played 11 snaps between games against BYU and Howard in 2022 — but all of those were either as a defensive lineman or on special teams to block kicks.

In determining his ceiling as an offensive tackle, it’s telling that he had multiple teams interested in him after the draft went final. The Dolphins saw enough in him to offer him $247,500 guaranteed, a high figure for an undrafted prospect.

“It’s opportunity,” Matos said of signing with Miami. “They gave me the opportunity to be here, and I’m really grateful for that. Not a lot of people take a chance on a guy that’s never played the sport before, and the organization did.

“The coaching staff, great coaching staff, great people, great coaches. They take care of the players and they develop players. And man, it’s Miami. It’s like being home. I love the weather. I love the heat. It’s good.”

Matos can feel much more at home in Miami than he did making the initial transition from the Dominican Republic to Tennessee.

“It was a big difference. Thanks to my host family, they made the transition easier,” he said in Spanish. “Miami is like being in the Dominican Republic. The same weather. It feels good. It’s warm. It feels great.”

Now six years since migrating, he knows enough about football to compete in the NFL after having no familiarity with the sport when he first moved.

“I didn’t know anything. Nothing,” he said. “But when I moved to the United States, my family would put it on and between attending college and being here, I’ve learned a lot.”

And blocking feels natural to him, similar to boxing out for a rebound in basketball.

Matos has studied tape of eight-time Pro Bowl tackle Tyron Smith, who made the move from the Dallas Cowboys to the New York Jets this offseason.

He can handle the strong, enthusiastic coaching style of Dolphins offensive line coach Butch Barry and benefit from learning behind Miami left tackle Terron Armstead once he joins the team this offseason.

You can expect him to be vocal on the football field too, given how talkative and passionate he is in the interview setting.

“Football is a beautiful sport,” Matos said. “I love the game. I love to talk. I love to yell. I like to scream, be loud. I love that.”

Matos’ signing comes through the NFL’s International Player Pathway program, which promotes opportunities for foreign prospects. Because he’s in the program, he gives the Dolphins a roster exemption, allowing them to have 91 players this offseason instead of 90.