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Possibility at 17: Clay Matthews

As we head for the Draft, Gang Green Nation will take a look at some potential picks for the team. Today we will profile Clay Matthews, a linebacker from the University of Southern California.

What NFL Draft Countdown thinks:

Active with a non-stop motor...Great strength...Excellent pass rusher and blitzer...Super intense and competitive...Very tough...Extremely versatile...Good range and flies around the field...Solid instincts...Does a fantastic job in pursuit...Outstanding special teamer...Has a knack for making impact plays...Smart with a great football IQ...Has an incomparable work ethic ... Still has upside ... Phenomenal  bloodlines.

'Tweener who may not have a true position...Isn't a great natural athlete...Average size and speed...Can be too aggressive at times...Stiff and lacks fluid hips...Will struggle to match up in coverage...Poor hands and ball skills...Minor durability concerns...Doesn't have a lot of starting experience ... A self-made player and  a bit of an overachiever.

What SB Nation's Mocking the Draft thinks:

Strengths: 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.

Weaknesses: Matthews’ best pass-rush move is a straight, outside speed rush which is based on getting a great burst off the snap. Because of this, he’ll struggle at times against fleet-footed tackles. Will take incorrect angles toward the ball carrier in the backfield arrive late to the ball. Has improved in pass coverage, dropping back and running with tight ends. However, he’s still mostly unproven in this area. Seems to lack good hands. to get stronger in his lower body because opponents can re-direct his

What I think:

Matthews is the prototypical overachiever. He makes up for what he lacks in pure athleticism with intelligence and instincts. Through hard work, he went from a walkon at USC to a potential first round pick as a tough, versatile linebacker. All of this means there is a strong possibility he will be gone by 17 as Eric Mangini will trade his entire Draft Mike Ditka style to move up and take Matthews first overall.

All joking aside, Matthews would be a bit of a reach when the Jets pick, but he would still fit pretty well. A 3-4 team depends on quality linebacker play. The Jets have a talented group but little depth. He is good enough as a pass rusher to push Vernon Gholston and Bryan Thomas for the starting job outside. He is physical enough and a good enough tackler to help on the inside. Clay would be an extra toy for Rex Ryan.

His father Clay had a long and productive NFL career. His uncle Bruce was a Hall of Fame offensive lineman for the Oilers/Titans. Clay grew up around the game. This is a good thing. He saw first hand the work he will need to put in and the temptations he will need to avoid in order to reach his potential. A lot of rookies never reach their potential because they are not prepared for the demands and lifestyle of playing in the league. That will not happen here. Matthews will hit his ceiling as a player. He understands the game at a level most players could not dream. He is a leader and a character guy. This would be a solid pick. Matthews may never be a star, but he can become a valuable role player for a long time.