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Dallas Cowboys Potential Draft Pick in 2011: Casey Matthews, ILB, Oregon

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Jonathan Bales

I recently studied Illinois linebacker Martez Wilson.  I really liked Wilson’s game, as he can play both inside and outside linebacker in Dallas’ 3-4 scheme.

Although inside linebacker isn’t an area of desperation, the Cowboys could still use some help.  In my 2010 Inside Linebacker Grades, I provided rookie Sean Lee with the best mark:

Sean Lee B- (82.4)

  • 2009 Grade: None

Bradie James: B- (81.3)

  • 2009 Grade: B (84.1)

Keith Brooking: C (76.7)

  • 2009 Grade: B+ (87.6)

I loved Lee’s improvement over the course of the season and I think he’ll outwork just about everyone to ensure he can be counted upon.  Bradie James should still be serviceable for another year or two, but that’s about it.  His game is limited and he’s becoming increasingly difficult to “hide” in coverage.

The Cowboys have done a poor job of addressing positions before they become a major problem.  Now would normally be the time to draft an inside linebacker of the future to play alongside Lee, but the ‘Boys have so many other pressing needs.

A versatile player like Wilson might justify a second-round selection.  I don’t think today’s feature should really be selected by the Cowboys at all. . .

Scouting Report

Before watching film on Casey Matthews, I kept hearing how “instinctual” he is at inside linebacker.  I saw him play three times on the season.  He wasn’t bad in the national championship game, but he was mediocre at best in the other contests.

After watching more of his film, I simply don’t see it.  There’s simply nothing outstanding about this kid.  He’s small (6’1”, 232 pounds). . .actually, he’s really small for Dallas’ 3-4 scheme.  He’s doesn’t appear to be that strong either.   He doesn’t shed blocks well, using the “wrong” shoulder to take on blockers.  For an inside linebacker, that’s the kiss of death.

Matthews also isn’t very athletic.  He’s decent in coverage, but not anything to write home about.  Even so, he doesn’t play that well in space.  His open-field tackling is poor.

Matthews isn’t really any better in traffic, often getting lost among the bigger bodies.  He doesn’t flow well and sometimes takes poor pursuit angles.

Matthews can be effective as a blitzer, but don’t get that confused with being a pass-rusher.  His brother is a pass-rusher.  Casey is a player who can blitz well if untouched, but will probably get stoned at the line-of-scrimmage in the NFL.

Actually, the only “instinctual” play he made in the video below is at the 3:46 mark.  Other than that, he played an entire game without doing much of anything.

I really think teams are higher on Casey than what his game dictates because of the success of his brother.  They are two different players, however, and Casey simply isn’t going to be a dominant football player.

Projection

Matthews’ family ties could shoot him up some boards.  Teams might see the name and want to take a flyer on him.  Because of that, there’s a slight chance he could get selected as high as the late-second, although I think the third or fourth-rounds are more likely.

If I was in the Cowboys’ front office, I wouldn’t touch Matthews.  In my opinion, he’s a late-round prospect who can be a backup and play well on special teams.  He’ll give good effort, but that’s about it.

Other Potential Dallas Cowboys Draft Picks in 2011

Nebraska CB Prince Amukamara

Cal DT/DE Cameron Jordan

UNC DE/OLB Robert Quinn

Ohio State DT/DE Cameron Heyward

Colorado OT Nate Solder

Wisconsin OT Gabe Carimi

Iowa DE Adrian Clayborn

USC OT Tyron Smith

Miami CB Brandon Harris

LSU CB Patrick Peterson

UCLA FS Rahim Moore

Baylor NT Phil Taylor

Aaron Williams, CB, Texas

Muhammad Wilkerson, DT/DE, Temple

Corey Liuget, DT/DE, Illinois

Martez Wilson, ILB/OLB, Illinois

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29 Responses to Dallas Cowboys Potential Draft Pick in 2011: Casey Matthews, ILB, Oregon

  1. Rick says:

    I don’t think Matthews will go higher than the 4th, and I don’t think teams are high on him because of his brother. I think FANS are high on him because of his brother and that one play he made on Newton in the National Championship. Otherwise, nothing special.

  2. Mont Seventeen says:

    Casey is the type of player that will benefit from PEDs and quality coaching… Bradie James should have been trade after his 8 sack season, but I like to sell high… James is not worthless but no more than an average 2 down player in a passing league.

    If Jerry would stop drafting these EBFU players like Jason Williams, James’ replacement would be on the Roster!

  3. Rick says:

    @Mont- That’s pretty inaccurate. Matthews already has all the intangibles. You can’t coach athleticism or talent, and frankly he doesn’t have much of either. He might one day be a good player, but the idea that simply entering the NFL can fix his measurables is ridiculous.

  4. OmarJ says:

    this article will do nothing but help, thanks for stating how average casey matthews is, clay is clay and casey is casey, people talk about this guy just because he’s brother is a good (full of steroids) player, drafting this guy would be like throwing away the pick

  5. willis says:

    the Colts have cut Bob Sanders, can we get him?!

  6. Willis–Sure. There are rumors the Broncos are shopping RT Ryan Clady too, which is a possibility.

  7. Rick says:

    How about OJ Atogwe?

  8. Mont Seventeen says:

    Inaccurate? Really… PEDs and good coaching, always over-rated on a message board!

    You think Casey Matthews’ has the intangibles of a starting LB in the NFL, any proof of this assessment? Bc usually to refute opinion, with opinion, it is conducive to include some fact.

    Let me make sure I understand you correctly… “Casey knows it all and could not benefit from good coaching”… That’s what you mean, right?

    FYI Casey Matthews has plenty of talent to play in the NFL, and even if he doesn’t, his name alone will get him a contract!

    Nice try

  9. moses says:

    Clady is coming back from an injury and was just a guy last year.
    He lost some of his quickness and power.
    Hopefully it was just because he came back too early.

    I watched a few of Matthews games and really did not see a lot either. Good analysis. Where does all of this hype come from?

  10. Rick says:

    @ Mont- You are a moron. I don’t think you know a single thing about Matthews. The only reason he’s considered a good prospect is because he has “it”, whatever “it” is. It’s pretty obvious that his effort and leadership skills are as good as you can expect from an NFL player.

    You talk like his issues are intangible, because that’s what coaching fixes. They’re not. His issues are size, athleticism, and technique, and the fact that he wasn’t even productive on a collegiate level. Good coaching CAN fix good technique, but more often than not it’s unfixable.

    When you talk about a player that “just needs coaching”, you’re really referring to a good athlete that has effort, character, or technique problems. Matthews does have technique problems, but he doesn’t have the athleticism or talent to make up for it. When a player lacks athleticism and wasn’t even productive on a collegiate level, 99 times out of 100 they won’t amount to anything.

    And about this PED’s nonsense- Why don’t I join the NFL? Why don’t you? Because, apparently, all you need is PEDs and good coaching to be a good player. Who cares about athleticism, technique, or talent? Point is, most players take some performance enhancement drugs, but no player that has to rely on them to compete will ever amount to anything.

  11. Tyrone Jenkins says:

    ILBs, as Jonathan pointed out, are different than OLBs (especially in a 3-4 system). Clay is an OLB w/ a completely different skillset, intangibles, etc. Comparing Casey to Clay is like comparing a Right Guard and a Right Tackle (same line but fairly different responsibilities).

    I don’t think Casey is bad, I just don’t think he’s all that good. I would say he’s average to below average at just about everything (or according to Jonathan’s grading scale – about a C to C- overall). To be honest, I dont’ think Sean Lee is all that good either as he is blown off the ball on just about every run/blitz play he’s in the game. He had a game where he had 1 (or was it 2) INTs and everyone fell in love w/ him. I think he too, is a C player at this point w/ a projection to a mild B- in the next 2-5 years (and that’s even if he’s fully healthy, which he won’t be).

    As mentioned in an ESPN article, Rob Ryan’s 3-4 scheme will consist of blitzing on almost every play. Read that to mean ZONE blitzing where different guys are flying at the ball from different locations. Don’t be surprised if Ratliff, the DEs and/or the ILBs are either dropping into coverage or blitzing all the time.

    Given that, Dallas needs ILBs who can perform adequately in 3 areas – run stoppage in base formations, blitzing w/ effectiveness when needed, and drop into coverage (flats included) when called upon. Who on the roster, right now can do that? Bradie is probably the closest but his coverage is suspect. Brooking, Lee and neither of the Williams can do all 3 adequately.

    I’m not sure if Casey can either but Id take someone who’s average in all 3 areas (or at least projects to be average) vs. someone who excells in 1, is average in another and is completely poor in the 3rd.

  12. willis says:

    well said Tyrone, although I’m a litle higher on Lee. Your right that he wasn’t great in all three areas, but I think he has the potential and work ethic to be.

  13. john coleman says:

    I have to believe they are looking at Nate Irving from NC St. I don’t know any other reason they would have been at a State game.

    As far as Matthews goes, I would have to agree with JB and his assessment. He also seems to be really slow at 4.78.

    IMO he is living on name only.

    Matthews may also benefit from a rather weak ILB class.

    If I’m the one doing the picking, I would be looking for college production 1st. Then measurables like height, weight and speed.

    There’s an unknown ILB by the name of Dom DeCicco, who has decent measurables. He is like 6-3 232 and runs 4.64. He is unknown because he played SS at Pittsburgh. Coach Wannstedt moved him to ILB because of injury for a few games. His scouting report is that he is a little tight in the hips for DB coverages. So he has some coverage skills, but not good enough to cover WRs downfield. So he could be a surprise against TEs and RBs in the short mid field areas. The bonus is he could even be a UDFA.

    Derrick Brooks was not a BIG guy for a LB, but he was effective. I hear and read comments about guys being too small and sometimes it has merit. However I think 230 lbs is big enough for an ILB. A 6-2 230 pound guy can easily add 10 lbs. My preference would be 6-4 to 6-5 and 250 lbs with sub 4.6 speed, but there are not many of those guys out there. Martez Wilson has those measurables and production. That’s why I believe he will continue to rise. His ability to play outside is a plus as well.

    Quan Sturdivant and Kelvin Sheppard are two others who bear watching.

    To me because of the 3-4 and passrushing OLBs, the ILB role has suffered because of the lack of glamour.

    For the record I like Sean Lee and believe he will become a very good to good player. I also think James has a year or two left and that Brooking has some good minutes left. All of these guys were hurt at some point last season.

  14. john coleman says:

    I still say must haves for this team are FS and RT. OG is also a position of need although we could play with who we have and DE, ILB, and CB are too. We could potentially need a 4th WR if Ogletree, Hurd, or Holley don’t step up. Hurd IMO is very unlikely to make that jump after 5 years. I’m not saying draft a WR early, but 5th -7th would be no surprise.

  15. Rick says:

    Jonathan- I have to think NFL teams are smarter than fans and recognize that this guy is a 4th-5th round prospect at best. Would you take him if still available in Round 5?

  16. Rick–I’d really prefer Huff or Weddle is the price is right, but Atogwe would certainly be an upgrade.

    Moses–I really think it’s the name.

    Tyrone–Awesome points on the potential effectiveness of the Cowboys’ current LBs in Ryan’s system. If Ryan sees it as you do, Martez Wilson may actually be a legit option in the second.

  17. JC–Irving and Sturdivant were already on my list, but I will add DeCicco.

    Rick–I wouldn’t select Matthews until the seventh round (if at all). I know I’m lower on him than most, but I just don’t see it.

  18. john coleman says:

    DeCicco will be a project,but if Wannestedt used him that way it is possible. As I remember it, Wannestedt was a pretty good defensive coach.

    Let it be understood upfront that I am hunting a hidden gem here.

    I do feel that the evolution of the game requires different skills and feel it will continue to be so.

    Remember when the West Coast offense was new. Point is that we need to be the trend setters.

    I also feel that the days of the big slow lumberjack olinemen are numbered. Hence the preaching for guys who can get to the second level to block. Those same guys have good enough athleticism to be good in passpro.

    A guy doesn’t have to have superior measurables, only good will do. Couple that with production(the guy is a FOOTBALL player) and bingo.

  19. Tyrone Jenkins says:

    My man Johnny Bizzle,

    Any chance we can look at Kenrick Ellis – NT from Hampton? Right off the bat I’m thinking 3rd rd for him but would like a better look and your super sleuth eye.

    Also, can you peek at Owen Marecic – FB/ILB from Standford for me? I know I’m in the minority but still think FB is a position that could stand upgrading and this guy quite possibly might be the steal of the draft in later rounds (5th or 6th) given his pass catching, coverage and potential special teams tackling skills. He can be the full time FB, goal line/short yardage ILB, short yardage back and play kickoff and punts like Welker and Woodhead.

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  21. Tyrone–Will do on Ellis and (hopefully) Marecic. Remind me though if you don’t see anything within a couple weeks.

    JC–Agree with everything there. It seems like the Cowboys have been late in adjusting to trends. Why not set the trends that others follow instead? I hate to say this, but the Eagles have been acquiring the sort of personnel other teams want now for years.

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