Photo of Clay Matthews
Grade
?
  • 4.67 SEC
    Top Performer
  • 23 REPS
    Top Performer
  • 35.5 INCH
    Top Performer
  • 121.0 INCH
    Top Performer
  • 6.90 SEC
    Top Performer
  • 4.18 SEC
    Top Performer
  • 6'3" Height
  • 240LBS. Weight

Overview

While teammates Rey Maualuga and Brian Cushing certainly earned more attention throughout their respective careers, it is the former walk-on Matthews Jr. who some scouts feel ultimately could be the best of the bunch. Considering he came to USC as a 166-pound linebacker and tight end with only Idaho offering him a D-I scholarship, his rise to stardom has been remarkable.

A special teams standout early in his career, Matthews didn't emerge as a starter until three games into his senior campaign. Showing burst off the snap as a hybrid defensive end and surprising fluidity and instincts in coverage, Matthews posted 56 tackles and finished third on the team in tackles for loss (9.5) and second in sacks (4.5).

A strong performance at the Senior Bowl had scouts buzzing about his upside, especially considering his family's gridiron success. Considering he has only started 10 games over his career, there isn't a prospect in the country who can match Matthews' meteoric rise up draft boards this year.

Analysis

Strengths

Positives: 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. Good speed upfield and has the balance and burst to redirect his rush. Good initial hand punch to pop the blocker and disengage. Good effort and speed in pursuit. Instinctive defender who played well in space as a traditional linebacker. Excellent special teams player. Twice named co-special teams player of the year (2005, 2006). Excellent bloodlines. Father, Clay, played 19 seasons at linebacker and made the Pro Bowl four times. Uncle, Bruce, made the Pro Bowl 14 times and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2007. Grandfather, also named Clay, played for the 49ers in the 1950s. Pac-10 Academic All-American with a 3.06 GPA in international relations. Negatives: 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. Lacks the bulk to remain at defensive end. Prefers to run around blocks rather than take them on. While he improved as the year went on, remains a work in progress in disengaging from blocks. Suffered broken left thumb against Nebraska, then fractured a metacarpal later in season, then had to have surgery after the bowl game as it did not heal properly.
C
Grade Title
9.00-10 Once-in-lifetime player
8.00-8.99 Perennial All-Pro
7.50-7.99 Future All-Pro
7.00-7.49 Pro Bowl-caliber player
6.50-6.99 Chance to become Pro Bowl-caliber player
6.00-6.49 Should become instant starter
5.50-5.99 Chance to become NFL starter
5.20-5.49 NFL backup or special teams potential
5.01-5.19 Better-than-average chance to make NFL roster
5.00 50-50 Chance to make NFL roster
4.75-4.99 Should be in an NFL training camp
4.50-4.74 Chance to be in an NFL training camp
No Grade Likely needs time in developmental league.
NFL News
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