clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

OLB, Clay Matthews, USC

If you buy something from an SB Nation link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

OLB, Clay Matthews, USC

At A Glance
Position 1: Outside Linebacker Height: 6-3
Position 2:  Weight:  240
Class:  Senior Age:  
Projected Round:  1st  40time:  4.62
Combine/Proday Results
Bench Reps:  23 Vertical:  35.5
20yd Split:  2.64 Broad Jump:  10'1"
10yd Split:  1.49 20yd Shuttle:  4.18
3 Cone Drill:  6.90  

Pros:  Ascending player who may be just scratching the surface of his potential. Well-built athlete whose dedication in the weight-room is obvious in his physique. Reliable open-field tackler. Versatile defender who flashes as a natural pass rusher off the edge.

Cons:  Has less than a full season as a starter and only 10 career starts -- all in 2008. Surrounded by so much talent at USC that holes in his game could have been disguised.

Styg's Broncos Fit:  Very inexperienced player who flashes some upside.  Has good burst off the snap as a rush end and shows agility and good hips in coverage.  Not very physical in taking on blocks and must continue to work on disengaging, as he can get corralled pretty easily.  With only 10 starts under his belt, he is more of a guess than a sure thing, and belongs with the rest of the guesses on Day 2, but with his pedigree (father and uncle were both Pro Bowlers) some team's analysts may be hoping to strike late-blooming gold.

Around MHR:

From a comment about Matthews going in the first round:

its hard to knock who beat Mattews out the last few years. Rivers is a great LB. Honestly there were those, who I was among. that believed that it should have been Matthews and River Outside and Mattews and pick your poison on the inside! The problem was that with 600,000 All-American Linebackers it is hard to say who starts and who doesn’t. Matthews will probably be picked in the first round (not this high is my guess) and will be a solid contributor if given a proper Role. One thing about Draft picks is you have to play to their strengths to start with as you teach them the rest of the game.

From ST&NO:

More and more, I doubt that there is a very good chance that Maualuga is the pick at #12.  He seems to be heading in the direction of the bottom of the first round.  I actually expect that both Cushing and Clay Matthews will be picked ahead of Maualuga, because outside players are at more of a premium than inside.  Maualuga looks like a 2 down player, because he struggles some in space.  I just think it's hard to use a premium pick on a guy who probably can't play on the defense's most important down.

Around SBNation:

From Scouting Report at Mocking the Draft:

 Very fast coming around the corner. Closes quickly on the ball carrier. Much quicker than fast. Due to Matthews’ strong football IQ, he diagnoses plays well. He rarely bit on fakes and screens and excelled at figuring out where the ball carrier was going. Coaches will love to have a player who has his effort. Plays with an attitude on the field and likes to hit people. Also does a nice job sinking his hips and charging through the ball carrier.

From "Matthews' Journey to NFL Almost Complete" at Mocking the Draft:

What Matthews has become is a possible first-round pick in April's NFL Draft. He has gone from a 166-pound walk-on to a possible first-round pick. Currently, he is ranked 20th among overall prospects by ESPN's Scouts Inc.

In 2008, his only full season as a starter, Matthews played the "elephant" position. The elephant is a hybrid defensive end/linebacker position that allowed Matthews to stand up at the line of scrimmage and rush the passer while still relying on his linebacker instincts against the run.

Transitioning from the elephant to 3-4 rush linebacker is an intriguing option for Matthews.


Scouting Reports and Offsite Links:

  • "No one would have believed four or five years ago that I would be up there with Rey Maualuga and Brian Cushing as a high NFL draft pick," Matthews says. "I mean, what would the odds be? There wouldn't be any odds. It's just a very, very rare story. People just don't go from being a walk-on to a first-round NFL pick."  [see more...]
  • In the NFL, you know you're getting old when the sons of former teammates start showing up on draft boards.

    "That has happened over the last four, five years," Newsome said. "One of the tough things you have to do is tell a former teammate, someone that you went to war with, that I don't think your son's good enough to play for us. That's a very tough thing to tell a father.

    "Now in the case of Clay, I won't have to make that statement because he is a good player playing on a team with a lot of good players."  [see more...]
  • He fills the holes quickly and can knock lead blockers upright and backward in run action. Because of his speed, the former Trojan moves well through traffic. He has routinely made plays sideline-to-sideline, and consistently keep his outside position on run plays. He is a very aggressive blitzer who lacks pass rushing techniques, but compensates for it with an explosive first step.  [see more...]
  • Son of former NFL star Clay Matthews, was initially a walk on at USC until earning a spot on the USC roster. He was buried behind the other star USC linebackers until his senior season, but had a terrific year and made himself a viable NFL prospect. He developed into a solid player by working in the weight room and in the classroom. However, he only started 10 collegiate games and may not be a superior athlete. He shot up draft boards as much as anyone as a senior, but needs to find a position at the NFL level. Given his families success, it would be hard to discount Matthews chances, even though he may never develop into an NFL starter.  [see more...]
  • Father, also named Clay, was an All-American at USC and played in the NFL from 1978 to 1996...Uncle, Bruce, was an All-American at USC and is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame following a 19-year career with the Houston Oilers / Tennessee Titans...Brother, Kyle, lettered at safety on USC's 2003 national championship team...Another brother, Casey, is a linebacker at Oregon...Grandfather, Clay Sr., was on the football, wrestling and swimming teams at Georgia Tech in the 1940's and then played in the NFL with the San Francisco 49'ers in the 1950's...Cousin, Ashley Nick, was a member of USC's 2007 NCAA champion women's soccer team...Missed some time with a sprained elbow in 2005 and had surgery on his hand prior to 2008 spring practice...1st Team Pac-10 All-Academic selection in 2008...Began his college career as a walk-on for the Trojans and Idaho was the only DI program to offer him a scholarship...Overshadowed for most of his career by the likes of Keith Rivers, Rey Maualuga and Brian Cushing...Known mostly for his work on special teams prior to 2008 and won the Trojans Co-Special-Teams Player of the Year award three times...A beast in the weight room who put on more than 40 pounds since he arrived at Southern Cal...Played both defensive end and linebacker in college...Could project to outside or inside linebacker in the NFL...Has the ability to fit in either a 3-4 or 4-3 scheme...Was barely on the prospect radar heading into his senior season but improved his  draft stock as  much as any player in the  country in  '08.  [see more...]
  • Matthews is a classic overachiever who has worked hard to position himself as a likely top 100 pick. Due to some concerns about his coverage, Matthews may have to make his name as a situational pass rusher and special teams demon.  [see more...]
  • An ideal 3-4 outside linebacker prospect who plays with great instincts and read-and-react skills at the line of scrimmage. Is a fluid athlete in his drop and has the ability to stay with tight ends in man coverage. Is a polished blitzer with the power to bull rush defenders and the lateral ability to slip blocks. A physical tackler who breaks down well in the hole and can fill gaps inside.  [see more...]
  • So much is made of the line formed for quarterbacks and running backs at USC, but often overlooked is the number of linebackers and the shortage of opportunities to get on the field. In Matthews’ first year, the Trojans won a national championship, and among their linebackers were Lofa Tatupu, Matt Grootegoed, and Dallas Sartz.  [see more...]