Packers LOLB Clay Matthews
Height: 6-3 1/8, Weight: 254, Speed: 4.66
Notes: Brother, Casey, plays for the Eagles. Father, Clay, played linebacker for the Browns and Falcons for 19 years. Uncle, Bruce, was a Hall of Fame guard for the Oilers/Titans. Grandfather was a lineman for the 49ers. Unrecruited as an underdeveloped prep athlete, Matthews walked on at USC for Pete Carroll in 2004 and earned a scholarship in '06, when he garnered Co-Special Teams Player of the Year honors and again in '07. Took over for Everson Griffen in Week Four of 2008 and finished the season with 56 tackles, nine tackles for loss and 4½ sacks. Became the only player in USC history to win Special Teams Player of the Year a third time. Packers GM Ted Thompson traded up to get back into the first round in 2009 to select Matthews 26th overall. Entered the Green Bay starting lineup in Week Four as a rookie and finished with 51 tackles and 10 sacks. In 15 starts in 2010 (missed game vs. Miami with a hamstring injury), recorded 60 tackles and 13½ sacks, also returning an interception 62 yards for a TD. Was voted the professional winner of the Butkus Award. Has started all 11 games in '11 and has totaled 34 tackles and five sacks.
Positives: Exceptional football temperament and NFL pedigree — comes from a long pipeline of gritty NFL talent. Shredded with muscle and is always working to the ball. Outstanding effort and energy — plays the game like his hair is on fire and can wear down blockers with his high-rev motor and tenacity. Has excellent take-off speed and a strong bull-rush move to walk back blockers with power and leverage. Is disruptive with a big-play flair and has a knack for producing in the clutch.
Negatives: Is not an elite athlete and spends more time on the ground than he should, tripping, losing his base and getting overextended. Is tightly wound, does not trim the corner well and can be exposed in space when he drops into coverage or attempts to tackle in space. Lacks variety in his pass-rush arsenal and still must learn how to counter blockers. Can be controlled and neutralized against better competition. Is not naturally big-framed, with a maxed-out physique.
Summary: A late bloomer who ascended rapidly as a college senior and upon his arrival in the NFL, Matthews immediately became a linchpin in Dom Capers' 3-4 defense and brought a Kevin Greene-like energy to the field, crashing the corner and sparking the Packers' dull pass rush. Production has dipped without DT Cullen Jenkins on the inside, but has flushed a lot of production to his teammates and still been a disruptive force.