Tag:Casey Matthews
Posted on: May 12, 2011 2:13 pm
Edited on: May 17, 2011 3:09 pm
 

Finding the Fits -- Inside Linebackers

Over the last week and a half I have been highlighting a different position each day in an attempt to Find the Fit -- identifying 2011 prospects who are a particularly good schematic fits for the club that selected him. I'll also highlight one player per position who I believe could struggle in his new NFL role. Too often in the past rookies who have struggled in the NFL have done so because they were simply drafted into schemes that didn't fit their individual strengths.

The inside linebacker class was one of the weakest units of the 2011 draft. The player many graded as the top inside linebacker in the draft -- former Illinois junior Martez Wilson -- slipped all the way to the third round to the New Orleans Saints. To put that into perspective, in each of the past 20 NFL drafts, there has been at least one collegiate inside linebacker selected in the first two rounds. While the class, itself, is weak, there are a few middle and late round fits, however, that I anticipate surprising in the NFL.

Here are the links for the other positions:
Players are listed alphabetically.

Quality Fits:

Greg Jones, New York Giants: Jones is a classic example of an undersized football player who attempted to add weight for his senior season to appear better suited to the NFL -- and struggled mightily because of it. Instinctive, tough and stunningly productive throughout his career, Jones played at 230 pounds at inside and outside linebacker while with the Spartans, but bulked up to nearly 245 pounds as a senior. The added weight slowed him down and scared off teams on draft day. Jones, who entered the year as a rock-solid 2nd round talent, instead fell to the sixth round (No. 185 overall). The Giants, who need help at linebacker, will one day look brilliant for stopping his slide there. Jones will not only prove to be an NFL starter, he'll prove an NFL standout.

Kelvin Sheppard, Buffalo Bills: "Finding the Fits" is all about finding players who fit in a team's scheme. Sheppard, in my opinion, the top 3-4 inside linebacker in this draft, fits in nicely with the Bills -- a club that desperately needed help considering the fact that they finished dead last in 2010 in rushing yards allowed (169.6 yards per game). Sheppard, 6-2 and 250 pounds, is stout enough to take on blockers at the point of attack and showed enough athleticism to contribute as an interior blitzer, as well.

Quan Sturdivant, Arizona Cardinals: Like Jones, a disappointing senior season contributed to Sturdivant slipping on draft day much further than he should. Instinctive, physical and productive, Sturdivant was actually a more consistent player in college than his more hyped teammate Bruce Carter, who went in the second round to the Cowboys despite the fact that Carter is coming off a torn ACL. Sturdivant isn't the athlete that the Cardinals possess already with Darryl Washington, but he could provide a similar "thumper" presence inside as what the team has in Gerald Hayes. That fact, could lead to Cardinals releasing Hayes this off-season.

Questionable Fit:

Casey Matthews, Philadelphia Eagles: Considering his bloodlines, it might be foolish to question any Matthews' ability to transfer his skill set into the NFL, but after scouting Casey closely over his career, I have questions about where he'll fit in best at the pro level. Under Andy Reid, Philadelphia has often gravitated towards undersized, athletic "chase" linebackers and have boasted some stout mashers in the middle, at times, as well. Matthews, 6-1 and 230 pounds, is neither of these things. He is very instinctive, a reliable open-field tackler and a leader. However, he doesn't discard blocks particularly well and offers very little in terms of coverage skills. He also lacks the athleticism coaches generally want on special teams.

Posted on: March 4, 2011 12:54 pm
Edited on: March 4, 2011 1:13 pm
 

Confirmed -- LB Matthews to work out at Pro Day

Oregon inside linebacker Casey Matthews "will do all drills except for the bench," at Oregon's Pro Day March 10 his agent, David Dunn, confirmed this morning.

Matthews, NFLDraftScout.com's No. 7 rated inside linebacker , injured the shoulder while performing the bench press drill at the scouting combine Feb. 27. The injury kept him from performing linebacker drills the next day.

Matthews said, according to NFL.com's Steve Wyche , that the injury occurred during the 14th repetition of 225 pounds. Matthews characterized the injury as a "freak accident" but also noted that he had suffered an injury to his left shoulder as a freshman.

Matthews, whose athletic pedigree has been well documented, emerged from his famous family's shadow this season to earn First Team All-Pac-10 honors lastseason with 79 tackles, nine tackles for loss, three interceptions and three fumble recoveries. Like his older brother, Clay, Casey Matthews' instincts and propensity to make the big play at critical moments stand out -- especially in this year's relatively weak class of linebackers.

His forced fumble of Cam Newton in the closing moments of the BCS National Championship game put Oregon in position to score the winning points.

Posted on: December 25, 2010 1:19 pm
 

Holiday presents - best 5 Bowl 1 on 1 matchups

On this winter holiday for many, I thought I've provide my readers with my own gift, of sorts.

The following are the five individual matchups I'm most looking forward to scouting over the upcoming bowl games.

West Virginia FS Robert Sands vs. NC State QB Russell Wilson: The 6-4, 221 pound Sands is considering leaving WVU after this, his junior season. Sands is allowed to freelance a bit in the Mountaineers' 3-3-5 defense, but is a natural playmaker who can bring the thunder as a hitter. His instincts and coverage skills will be tested against Wilson. A strong game by Sands could push him into the 2011 draft, where he'd rate among the best free safeties in a weak class needing help from the juniors if there are to be many candidates worthy of a top 75 grade.  This game is scheduled for 6:30 pm EST on Tuesday, December 28th.

Washington WR Jermaine Kearse vs. Nebraska CB Prince Amukamara: Many will point to Husky quarterback Jake Locker as the player to watch in this contest and for good reason. His 4 of 20 performance in the team's first matchup in October is considered by some to be the game that sent his stock sliding this year. (Loyal readers know that is not necessarily the case.) The reality is, without sudden and massive improvement by Washington's offensive line, Nebraska's defense should again be too much to provide Locker a chance in this game. If the 6-2, 205 pound Kearse, however, is able to shake free early for some big plays against Amukamara, Locker and the Huskies have a chance. Locker relies on the junior as his favorite target. When Kearse has been shut down, so too (generally) has Locker -- making this one on one battle a key in the most anticipated rematch of the bowl season.  This game is scheduled for 10 pm EST on Thursday, December 30th.

Notre Dame WR Michael Floyd vs. Miami CB Brandon Harris: Both the 6-3, 228 pound Floyd and the 5-11, 195 pound Harris are expected to leave for the NFL following this game. Harris has the agility, speed and physicality to eliminate most receivers, but Floyd's significant size advantage makes this an intriguing test for the Canes' star. Though teams are often hesitant to move around their corners to match up all game long against wide receivers, eliminating the big play Floyd from Notre Dame's arsenal might be the easiest way of crippling Brian Kelly's offense. This game is scheduled for 2 pm EST on Friday, December 31st.

TCU OT Marcus Cannon vs. Wisconsin DE J.J. Watt: Last year it was the one on one matchup between Georgia Tech defensive end Derrick Morgan and Iowa left tackle Bryan Bulaga that in my mind was the elite battle of the bowl season. This year it is Cannon and Watt. Watt is moved all over the Badgers' defensive line and it is this versatility that has been maddening for opponents to protect against and left NFL scouts salivating at his versatility in the pros. Watt, however, will have his hands full when playing against the Horned Frogs' left tackle, a 6-5, 350 pound behemoth with shockingly quick feet. Bulaga shut down Morgan last year, cementing his place in the first round. I have Cannon firmly in the second round, at this point, but if he's able to slow down Watt, arguably the most dominant defensive lineman in the country, he'll skyrocket up draft boards. This game is scheduled for 5 pm EST on Saturday, January 1st.

Auburn QB Cam Newton vs. Oregon ILB Casey Matthews:
Opponents have tried to keep a "spy" in to protect against Cam Newton's running all game long. The strategy has largely failed despite the fact that defenses have often resorted to their most athletic linebackers or physical safeties to do the job. Matthews isn't a spectacular athlete or terribly physical, but he might be the most instinctive linebacker in the country and among the surer tacklers. This one on one battle could dictate how well Newton is able to move the Auburn offense with his legs -- which could wind up as the key to the BCS Championship. This game is scheduled for 8:30 pm EST on Monday, January 10th.


On behalf of the entire NFLDraftScout.com crew of analysts Chad Reuter and Chris Steuber, editors Derek Harper and Jeff Reynolds, website tech expert Brian Hitterman and publisher Frank Cooney I wish you and your loved ones a very safe, happy and (hopefully football-filled) holiday season.


As always for the very best in pro football draft coverage, check out NFLDraftScout.com or simply click here.
Posted on: August 5, 2010 4:03 pm
 

Pac-10 film room notes

Over the past few weeks I've posted notes on my impressions of the senior talent in the ACC and SEC. Perenially two of the "power" conferences, I wasn't surprised at all to see that each group boasted a high number of legitimate top 100 senior prospects.

With the exception of Washington quarterback Jake Locker and Oregon State defensive tackle Stephen Paea, the Pac-10, however, appears relatively weak -- at least in terms of senior NFL prospects.

Here are my preseason thoughts based on watching last year's film on every team in the conference.

  • Considering the sanctions levied by the NCAA and the relatively weak senior talent, Lane Kiffin is going to have his hands full at USC attempting to replace Pete Carroll. Sophomore quarterback Matt Barkley looks like a future first round prospect and, of course, quarterback is the game's most critical position. The difference in talent between USC's second string and some of the other top schools in the Pac-10 (Oregon, for example) had always been an underrated component in the Trojans' success. Sure, USC boasted first round talent at nearly every position on the field at one time or another, but it was their depth at every position that really stood out. When USC sent a Reggie Bush or Sedrick Ellis to the NFL, they had a Joe McKnight or Fili Moala there to pick up the slack. That, however, doesn't appear to be the case this year. One of the more intriguing USC athletes this season who could break out is senior outside linebacker Michael Morgan, a 6-4, 230 pounder with obvious athleticism. Playing time has been tough to come by considering the talent USC had at linebacker, but Morgan, like many of USC's highly rated young talent, flashes on film, but appears to be a better athlete than football player. Let me put it this way -- I'm being asked to write a Pac-10 preview soon. In the article I'll feature the top ten senior prospects in the conference. USC has more of those players than any other school -- but I wouldn't rate any of them (RBs Allen Bradford, CJ Gable, WR Ronald Johnson, C Kristopher O'Dowd, Morgan) as a top 50 prospect. Cornerback Shareece Wright may end up the highest drafted senior Trojan -- as he's a talented player -- but he's missed virtually the past two years due to injury and academic suspension. Stanley Havili is my top-rated fullback in the country, but where has USC gone if their top-rated prospect plays fullback...?
  • The face of the conference -- and perhaps the Heisman race -- is clearly Locker. Possessing a combination of arm strength, running ability and guts that have led to comparisons to John Elway, Locker simply needs to continue to develop the intricacies of the position to earn his place as NFLDraftScout.com's top-rated senior prospect. Locker isn't there yet, but he is capable of making the "wow" play that can't be coached. I don't actually expect Locker to win the Heisman. He's got too many things working against him -- not the least of which is a porous offensive line that will be sorely tested against Nebraska in September. But Locker is the conference's best player. And folks, it ain't even close.
  • One of the more underrated prospects in the Pac-10 is California defensive end Cameron Jordan. With Cal playing in the 3-4, Jordan (6-4, 285) didn't rack up the numbers last year (43 tackles, 8 tackles for loss, 5 sacks) to warrant a great deal of national acclaim -- especially considering the attention that his teammate Tyson Alualu earned. Jordan, however, is a good athlete and possesses good strength at the point of attack, which makes him an ideal fit for this scheme. If Jordan played in the Big 12 or SEC, he'd be earning a great deal more attention. In fact, I'd rate Jordan as a very similar prospect to South Carolina's Cliff Matthews, who is earning some All-American hype.
  • There is bound to be a great deal of attention this season on Oregon linebacker Casey Matthews, considering the success of his older brother Clay Jr. with the Green Bay Packers and, of course, the earlier success of father (Clay) and uncle (Bruce Mathews). Unless Casey is able to duplicate the remarkable one-year turnaround of his older brother (who came to USC as a walk-on and turned himself into a first round pick), the lack of attention -- at least from NFL scouts -- may be surprising. Voted a Second-team All-Pac-10 choice last year with 81 tackles, Matthews breaks down well in space, but doesn't fight through blocks well enough yet to play inside and lacks the straight-line speed to beat backs to the edge. Oregon, which has often historically relied on athleticism rather than size and strength on the defensive line, is surprisingly stout up front. Senior defensive lineman Brandon Bair flashed some intriguing pass rush ability given his size (6-6, 268) and the fact that Oregon often lined him up inside, but he's older than most prospects given the fact that he took two years off for an LDS mission prior to playing for the Ducks. 
  • I typically reserve judgement on players until they are at least entering their senior season. However, with all of the attention surrounding the underclassmen quarterbacks I posted some thoughts on Arkansas' Ryan Mallett and thus, here are my thoughts after having time to scout Stanford's Andrew Luck. Some of the areas in which concerned me about Mallett (footwork, ability to read defenses) I found Luck to be surprisingly effective given his lack of experience. He certainly has the arm-strength and accuracy scouts are looking for and he has a terrific coach in Jim Harbaugh. If Luck is able to string together another season like 2009, he is a definite first round prospect and quite possibly competes with Locker, Ponder and Mallett (among others) to be the first passer selected. That said, Luck had the great fortune of playing second fiddle to Toby Gerhart last year. He's an extremely talented player, but don't count me among the shocked if there is a bit of a sophomore slump this season as defenses focus more on stopping the passing game. 
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com