CASEY MATTHEWS, ILB, OREGON
Triangle Numbers: 6-2, 235, 4.85
• Adequate height and bulk with a very sturdy build
• Above average athleticism and agility with a burst
• Outstanding football IQ, instincts and awareness
• Dependable tackler who will also deliver the bit hit
• Strong, physical and steps up to fill versus the run
• Displays a knack for rushing the passer and blitzing
• Fluid hips and more than holds his own in coverage
• Active with non-stop motor and tenacious in pursuit
• Competitive and hard working w/ amazing bloodlines
• Very productive with a lot of high-quality experience
• Not real explosive w/ average speed and quickness
• Is too aggressive and gets out of control at times
• Some trouble disengaging and getting off of blocks
• Poor hands and ball skills and is not a playmaker
• A self-made player who is a bit of an overachiever
Positives: Great NFL bloodlines, brother of Green Bay standout linebacker Clay Matthews… Solid production in four years at Oregon (245 tackles, four interceptions, eight sacks)… Semifinalist for Butkus Award and Lott Trophy in 2010… Durability does not seem to be an issue, has not dealt with any major injuries or missed multiple games due to injury… Has very good closing speed when pursuing opposing quarterbacks, takes good angles and maintains good body control when closing in… Has above-average coverage skills for an inside linebacker, has relatively fluid hips and quick footwork, possesses enough speed to run down the middle of the field with opposing tight ends… Has pretty good bulk for the position, but could stand to add a little lower-body mass… Is an excellent run stuffer, shoots gaps with explosiveness and control and finishes tackles well… Plays with great instincts and intuition, coach Chip Kelly has called Matthews the most instinctual player he has ever coached… Can deliver crushing hits when taking the right angles, plays with a fearless demeanor and is not afraid of contact… Stock could rise as draft approaches with the success Clay Matthews has had in the NFL, teams may take an early-round flyer on him in hopes of similar production.
Negatives: Speed is marginal at best, but appears to play faster than time would indicate… Does not drive feet particularly well when tackling, tends to wrap up and drag down instead of pushing ball carrier back, may have difficulty limiting yards after contact in the NFL… Appears to be a decent pass rusher on film, but went untouched in most cases, may struggle against quicker blockers at the next level… Misses some tackles in open field from playing a little out of control… Can be fooled by misdirection plays, is very instinctual, but will take false steps and get slightly out of position when anticipating incorrectly.
There were questions regarding Oregon’s defense early in the 2010 season, but the Ducks have remained undefeated in large part due to the overlooked defense. Casey Matthews is the leader of the Ducks defense. The 6’2, 235 pound linebacker does a little bit of most things and a lot of everything else. Matthews started making an impact as a true freshman in 2007. He played in the first 11 games of the season and even earned a start before missing a couple of games with a shoulder injury. He only tallied 18.0 tackles during that season, but 4.0 of those were for a loss.
Matthews stepped up his game as a sophomore, but still started the season coming in off of the bench. By November he was a staple in the starting lineup and he ended the season ranking sixth on the team with 67 tackles and added 13.0 tackles-for-loss. Matthews kept getting better as an upperclassman. In 2009 he totaled 81 tackles and became much more versatile and spent less time getting in the backfield and more time dropping back in coverage. In 2010, Matthews has done everything. Through the regular season Matthews not only leads the team with 73 tackles, but has also added 8.5 tackles-for-loss, 3.0 sacks, three interceptions and five passes defended.
With Oregon heading to the BCS National Championship game, Matthews will get one more shot to show the nation that the Ducks are about more than just their explosive offense. Matthews is arguably one of the top five inside linebackers in this class, but that will not likely be enough to get him drafted in the first three rounds.
3/15 Update: Matthews injured his shoulder at the NFL combine while doing the bench press. It was a freak accident and turned out to be a minor one. Matthews was ready to go for Oregon’s pro day on March 10th and performed all the workouts except the bench press. As expected, Matthews did not blow anybody away with his physical attributes. He is a football player, not an athlete. That means he will be drafted in the fourth or fifth round, but be around the NFL a lot longer than many players drafted before him.
[pro-player width=’530′ height=’253′ type=’video’]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c40PSj7ERO0[/pro-player]
Casey Matthews is a guy getting a lot of press, but it’s more because of his brother, star linebacker Clay Matthews. Casey is not Clay. Nowhere close, actually. Casey is a slow player. He’s tenacious, and he pursues like crazy. But he’s not the most athletic player. Like all of the Matthews, he’s going to come to work, play hard, play smart. He’s just limited. As a special teamer, you can’t do much better. As a backup linebacker who can make an impact, can’t do much better. If you’re expecting him to be your starting middle ‘backer, he won’t be. He just doesn’t have the athleticism of his brother. He’s going to do everything right, but he’s just going to be a step slow. Great guy to have in the locker room. He’ll be the hardest worker. Just not the greatest player. Still, in the 4th or 5th round, he’s going to be a great pick. Just not the star that his brother is.