Doesn’t anchor with great results when run at and can be overwhelmed inside and sealed from the play. Isn’t a guy who can consistently run around blocks either and needs to play in a phone booth in order to be real effective. Now, is a solid wrap-up guy who breaks down well into contact. However, doesn’t have much range and will see his angles outpaced when playing in space.
Is a limited athlete in coverage. Displays above-average instincts and can key off the quarterback and get good jumps on the football. However, is stiff through the hips, gets really fidgety with his footwork and lacks a real smoothness in his drop. Doesn’t generate a burst out of his breaks and plays at one speed in pursuit. Comes off the field a lot on obvious passing situations.
Impression: Is a limited two-down guy only in the NFL, but doesn’t play the run as well as he’s given credit for. Looks like a fringe roster guy to me who I wouldn’t go to bat for at this time."
He helped keep Cam Newton in check, making plays behind the line of scrimmage as well as in coverage against the pass, and forced a key late fumble by chasing Newton down from behind. It was an MVP-worthy performance had Oregon won.
As an NFL prospect, Matthews projects to be a steady and heady inside linebacker in either a 4-3 or a 3-4. He could fit well in a system like Seattle has with Lofa Tatupu, where the MIKE often blitzes.
Positives: Two-plus-year starter is an instinctive playmaker and a passionate team leader. Almost always around the ball. Sure tackler who rarely misses. Excellent at diagnosing and getting in position to make plays. Can anchor against blocks, shed blocks and make plays off blocks. Made a lot of plays behind the line. Can run and shut off the wide rush. Has good ball skills and made plays in coverage. Top intangibles: healthy, durable, productive, football smart and from a legendary football family.
Negatives: Played in a system that had him blitzing, immediately or delayed, for a ridiculously high percentage of plays, which inflated his sacks/TFL stats. Not blazingly fast. Slightly stiff in the hips, doesn't have great change of direction ability and could struggle in man coverage vs. NFL tight ends and backs. Rarely beat the block once picked up on the blitz. While good at just about everything, not truly elite in any category."
Is it just a name, or can Matthews play?
While his brother walked on and under-achieved at USC, Casey wasn’t as fortunate. He was an undersized three star recruit coming out of Oaks Christian High School. He received scholarship offers from numerous Pac-10 schools, as well as a few medium ranged ACC schools. He chose Oregon in the end, and played in all 11 games in his freshman year.
Casey may not be as physically gifted as his brother Clay, but there’s no doubt that he’s just as intelligent and has a great work ethic.
Matthews’ biggest strength is his intelligence. He’s does well reading and reacting to the offensive play on every down. He has a non-stop motor, playing well sideline to sideline. He’s a very good tackler, who’s very fundamentally sound. He doesn’t often get caught out of position, and he uses his athleticism to make up for his lack of overall bulk. Matthews is also excellent in making plays in coverage. He covers his zone almost effortlessly, and has a knack for finding the ball. He’s an underrated pass rusher on the inside, and has the speed to maybe make the transition to the OLB position in a 3-4, although that may not utilize his skill-set to the maximum. However, his versatility is fantastic and will be coveted among teams in the 2011 NFL Draft.
The biggest knock on Matthews is his size. He’s not the biggest or strongest player on the football field, nor is he the most athletic. He plays in a very loosely based zone defense in Oregon which helps his athleticism shine. He may not be able to transition to a 3-4 defense because of his inability to frequently get off of blockers, but if he improves as a pass rusher he may move outside, although not likely. He’s most likely restricted to a 4-3 role, but he’s versatile enough to play all three linebacker positions in a 4-3 scheme. While he’s not weak by any means, he still needs to improve on his strength and use his arms to get off blocks, rather than getting fully engaged with blockers.
Right now, it’s completely open where Matthews goes. His brother, Clay, had some of the same weaknesses coming out, not being a big, strong linebacker. But hard work propelled him into the first, and Casey could do the same if he works out well enough at the combine. Right now, his ceiling is as high as a late first round pick, but he’ll most likely be selected between the middle of the second round and middle of the third round. Look for teams like Indianapolis, Philadelphia, New Orleans, and Detroit to target him. If teams feel he can make the transition to 3-4, it could improve his stock heavily as teams like Buffalo, Arizona, and Green Bay could look at grabbing him in the 2011 NFL Draft.
NFL Comparison: Demeco Ryans"
Positive: Hardworking college linebacker with marginal size/speed numbers for the NFL. Displays good awareness, breaks down well and remains disciplined with assignments. Quickly locates the ball, fires up the field in run defense, and wraps up tackling. Uses his hands to protect himself, fluid pedaling in reverse, and quickly changes direction. Sells out in run defense and plays with an aggressive attitude. Collapses from the outside to defend the run and easily flows to the action.
Negative: Average athlete with marginal quickness. Lacks true pursuit speed. Not a reliable tackler.
Analysis: Mathews was a solid college linebacker yet overrated outside of scouting circles because of his last name. He's a potential backup at the next level if he performs well on special teams."
Negatives: Speed is marginal at best (mid 4.7-40), 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"
Weaknesses: Not an elite athlete, as he won't be able to close and make a ton of plays on the perimeter. Settles too soon in his zone drop and deosn't get great depth in his drop. Lack of strength is evident when taking on blocks, as he can get swallowed up, and has trouble disengaging from the block. He will run around blocks from time-to-time. Occasionally will make some false steps.
Projection: Fifth rounder. Matthews isn't in the same class as his brother, Clay, but his instincts and intelligence will get him on the field right away on special teams. He'll be a solid backup right away and should develop into an eventual starter."
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."
He can be a step late to arrive to the perimeter, lacks ideal take-on ability and can be hung up on blocks, but he leaves everything on the field, studies the game intently and can be trusted to fit where he is supposed to. Despite his physical limitations, all he seems to do is produce, and he only figures to grow on NFL brass as he goes through the interview process in the spring."
Except, of course...
For that exceptional Processing Speed.
And, all jokes aside, that could mean the difference between a first year Fail...and a 10 year career.
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