If you haven’t heard of the Matthews family by now, you most likely live under a rock. It’s no secret that they are one of the most dominant football families to ever play in the NFL. Clay Matthews Sr. and Clay Matthews Jr. are the most well known, as well as Bruce Matthews, Casey's uncle, who is one of the best offensive guards to ever play the game. Family patriarch Clay Matthews I was a standout in the 1950’s, as well.
While his brother walked on and under-achieved at USC, Casey wasn’t as fortunate. He was an undersized 3-star recruit coming out of Oaks Christian High School, receiving scholarship offers from numerous Pac-10 schools as well as a few medium-range ACC schools. He chose Oregon in the end, and played in all 11 games in his freshman year.
Casey may not be as physically gifted as his brother Clay, but there’s no doubt that he’s just as intelligent and has a great work ethic.
Player Name: Casey Matthews
Position: Inside Linebacker
Matthews’ biggest strength is his athleticism. He’s also an extremely intelligent player who does well reading and reacting to the offensive play on every down. He has a non-stop motor, playing well sideline to sideline. He’s a very good tackler who’s very fundamentally sound. He doesn’t often get caught out of position, and he uses his athleticism to make up for his lack of overall bulk.
Matthews is also excellent in making plays in coverage. He covers his zone almost effortlessly, and has a knack for finding the ball. He’s an underrated pass rusher on the inside, and has the speed to maybe make the transition to the OLB position in a 3-4, although that may not utilize his skill set to the maximum. However, his versatility is fantastic and will be coveted among teams in the 2011 NFL Draft.
The biggest knock on Matthews is his size. He’s not the biggest or strongest player on the football field. He plays in a very loosely-based zone defense in Oregon, which helps his athleticism shine. He may not be able to transition to a 3-4 defense because of his inability to frequently get off of blockers. He’s most likely restricted to a 4-3 role, but he’s versatile enough to play all three linebacker positions in a 4-3 scheme.
While he’s not weak by any means, he still needs to improve on his strength and use his arms to get off blocks, rather than getting fully engaged with blockers.
Right now, it’s completely open as to where Matthews goes. His brother, Clay, had some of the same size weaknesses coming out. But hard work propelled Clay into the first, and Casey could do the same if he works out well enough at the combine. Right now, his ceiling is as high as a mid second round pick, but he’ll most likely be selected between the third round and the middle of the fourth round.
Look for teams like Indianapolis, Philadelphia, New Orleans and Detroit to target Matthews. If teams feel he can make the transition to 3-4, it could improve his stock heavily as teams like Cleveland, Buffalo, Arizona and Green Bay could look at grabbing him in the 2011 NFL Draft.
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