Clay Matthews went from walk-on to starter during his career at USC, and it looks like first-round NFL draft pick could be his next step. Had a chance to catch up with Matthews during a live chat today on NFL.com, a day after Matthews and his teammates put on a stellar show at USC’s Pro Day in front of 30 NFL teams.
Matthews said Thursday he has met with Browns coach Eric Mangini, and also has visits set up in Cleveland, Tennessee and Denver. Remeber, his father, Clay Matthews Jr., was a draft pick of the Browns in 1978 and played 16 of his 19 NFL seasons in Cleveland, where he was a four-time Pro Bowler during that span.
“It would be very special to end up there,” the younger Matthews said. “Obviously, Cleveland has a special place in my heart.”
The projections of where Matthews fits in at the NFL level — and where he’ll play — are all over the board. He said he’s hearing that teams are looking at him as an outside linebacker in both 3-4 and 4-3 schemes, as well as on the weak-side and in the middle. As for draft position, NFL.com’s Pat Kirwan has Matthews slotted at No. 24 to the Falcons, while our other mocks have him falling out of the first round. We’ll see.
Matthews ran a 4.57 40 yesterday. NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock, who ranks Matthews as his fifth-ranked outside linebacker, was a big fan of how he performed during position drills.
“The guy that jumped out was Clay Matthews,” Mayock said. “He looked like a 6-foot-3, 248-pound safety. Fluid hips, and caught the ball like a wide receiver. So when I look at a definition of a first-round linebacker, I want a guy that can catch the football and stay in the game on third down. And I think Clay Matthews can.”
– Frank Tadych