I recently studied Illinois linebacker Martez Wilson. I really liked Wilson’s game, as he can play both inside and outside linebacker in Dallas’ 3-4 scheme.
Although inside linebacker isn’t an area of desperation, the Cowboys could still use some help. In my 2010 Inside Linebacker Grades, I provided rookie Sean Lee with the best mark:
Sean Lee B- (82.4)
- 2009 Grade: None
Bradie James: B- (81.3)
- 2009 Grade: B (84.1)
Keith Brooking: C (76.7)
- 2009 Grade: B+ (87.6)
I loved Lee’s improvement over the course of the season, and I think he’ll outwork just about everyone to ensure he can be counted upon. Bradie James should still be serviceable for another year or two, but that’s about it. His game is limited, and he’s becoming increasingly difficult to “hide” in coverage.
The Cowboys have done a poor job of addressing positions before they become a major problem. Now would normally be the time to draft an inside linebacker of the future to play alongside Lee, but the ‘Boys have so many other pressing needs.
A versatile player like Wilson might justify a second-round selection. I don’t think today’s feature should really be selected by the Cowboys at all...
Before watching film on Casey Matthews, I kept hearing how “instinctual” he is at inside linebacker. I saw him play three times on the season. He wasn’t bad in the national championship game, but he was mediocre at best in the other contests.
After watching more of his film, I simply don’t see it. There’s simply nothing outstanding about this kid. He’s small (6’1”, 232 pounds)...actually, he’s really small for Dallas’ 3-4 scheme. He’s doesn’t appear to be that strong either. He doesn’t shed blocks well, using the “wrong” shoulder to take on blockers. For an inside linebacker, that’s the kiss of death.
Matthews also isn’t very athletic. He’s decent in coverage but not anything to write home about. Even so, he doesn’t play that well in space. His open-field tackling is poor.
Matthews isn’t really any better in traffic, often getting lost among the bigger bodies. He doesn’t flow well and sometimes takes poor pursuit angles.
Matthews can be effective as a blitzer but don’t get that confused with being a pass rusher. His brother is a pass rusher. Casey is a player who can blitz well if untouched but will probably get stoned at the line of scrimmage in the NFL.
Actually, the only “instinctual” play he made in the video below is at the 3:46 mark. Other than that, he played an entire game without doing much of anything.
I really think teams are higher on Casey than what his game dictates because of the success of his brother. They are two different players, however, and Casey simply isn’t going to be a dominant football player.
Matthews’ family ties could shoot him up some boards. Teams might see the name and want to take a flyer on him. Because of that, there’s a slight chance he could get selected as high as the late-second, although I think the third or fourth-rounds are more likely.
If I was in the Cowboys’ front office, I wouldn’t touch Matthews. In my opinion, he’s a late-round prospect who can be a backup and play well on special teams. He’ll give good effort, but that’s about it.
Other Potential Dallas Cowboys Draft Picks in 2011