Let's continue our 2011 NFL Draft prospect profile series with a look at a prospect who is intriguing not because of his physical skills, but because of his name.
The most impressive thing about Oregon linebacker Casey Matthews is just that -- he is a Matthews. That makes him the brother of Green Bay's Clay Matthews, one of the best linebackers in the business. Their father, Clay Matthews Jr., was a four-time Pro Bowl linebacker. Their uncle, Bruce Matthews, is a Hall of Fame offensive lineman. So, the bloodlines mean NFL people will pay attention to Casey Matthews.
In discussing Matthews, Draft Countdown had this to say:
Could fit in either a 4-3 or 3-4 scheme --- Came through with a standout senior campaign and significantly improved draft stock --- Not the most impressive physical specimen but compensates with top-notch intangibles and is just a good football player --- Should at least be a valuable backup / special teamer at the next level but if the Matthews family has taught us anything it's to never, ever underestimate them.
The Matthews name will get his name called somewhere in the middle of the 2011 NFL Draft this April. Whether his physical skills say he should be a quality NFL player or not, would anyone be surprised if he ended up starting in the league for a long, long time?
Scouting reports after the jump.
6-foot-1, 231 pounds
From National Football Post:
A thick, tightly wound inside linebacker who displays good natural instincts vs. the interior run game. Quickly is able to locate the football, gets good jumps on the action and always seems to put himself around the ball. Displays a willingness to attack downhill and fill run lanes inside. However, doesn't do a great job really uncoiling a snap through his hips and arms into contact and isn't a real physical puncher at the point. Doesn't anchor with great results when run at and can be overwhelmed inside and sealed from the play. Isn't a guy who can consistently run around blocks either and needs to play in a phone booth in order to be real effective. Now, is a solid wrap-up guy who breaks down well into contact. However, doesn't have much range and will see his angles outpaced when playing in space.
Is a limited athlete in coverage. Displays above-average instincts and can key off the quarterback and get good jumps on the football. However, is stiff through the hips. Doesn't generate a burst out of his breaks and plays at one speed in pursuit. Comes off the field a lot on obvious passing situations.
Impression: Is a limited two-down guy only in the NFL, but doesn't play the run as well as he's given credit for. Looks like a fringe roster guy to me who I wouldn't go to bat for at this time.
Matthews possesses very impressive instincts. Diagnoses and finds the football quickly. Not fooled by misdirection or play fakes. Works tirelessly to shed blockers and isn't afraid of contact. Excels at shifting through the trash in the box and has good range. Sound tackler. Displays good awareness in coverage. Intelligent blitzer. Outstanding work ethic.
Lacks size and strength for the NFL. May have a more difficult time taking on bigger blockers at the next level. Has good range but not a true sideline-to-sideline guy. Not a good matchup against speedy running backs and tight ends in man coverage. Doesn't bring top explosiveness or power as a pass rusher.
Matthews is the latest in a family of guys who play the game the right way. While he lacks some size and speed, he is a smart, relentless, highly-productive player who will provide solid depth and special teams value while developing into a starter. Overcomes lacks of power by reading and reacting quicker than most linebackers. Does a great job of slipping blocks inside the box and is a sure tackler but does not have true sideline-to-sideline range and may struggle when caught in a phone booth. Better suited for zone coverage with his great awareness than man. Matthews could sneak into Day 2.