Oregon’s Casey Matthews is the son of Cleveland Browns legend Clay Matthews II. You saw him last night all over the field playing his line-backer position tracking down Auburn runners. The 6’2″ senior led his team in tackles and was a semi-finalist for the Butkus Award. He may not have the sack numbers (3) that the Browns are looking for, but keep in mind that Clay Matthews III was not a highly touted sack machine at USC either. He’s done ok for himself.
Would the Browns be trying to cash in on previous family success by taking Matthews? Of course! But here’s the thing- in this age of busts and mis-used draft picks, Casey Matthews seems like as much of a sure thing as you can get. Think about it.
First there was William Clay Matthews Sr., who played at Georgia Tech in the 1940s and for four years in the ’50s with the NFL’s 49ers. Among his five children were William Clay Matthews Jr. and Bruce Matthews, both of whom starred at USC. Clay Jr. went on to a 19-year career in the NFL as a linebacker, making the Pro Bowl four times and ranking among the league’s top 20 in games played with 278. Bruce had a 19-year career as an offensive lineman, made the Pro Bowl 14 times, is in the Hall of Fame, and he held the league record in games played at 296 until Brett Favre kept coming back, and back, and back.
Bruce, an offensive line coach with the NFL’s Texans, has seven children, including five boys. Steve played football at Baylor; Kevin just became a starting center for the NFL’s Tennessee Titans late this season; Jake is a freshman at Texas A&M and was scheduled to play in Friday night’s Cotton Bowl; Mikey is a highly recruited high school player in Houston; and fifth-grader Luke weighs 150 pounds and may be the best of them all someday.
Clay Jr., an assistant coach at Oaks Christian High School in Agoura Hills, has five children, four of them boys, three of them football players. Kyle played at USC and got a national championship ring on the 2003 team; William Clay III walked on at USC and worked his way up to starting linebacker and to a 2009 first-round draft choice of the Green Bay Packers.
There has been some debate about the selection of Alex Mack over Clay Matthews III among Browns fans. While Clay is certainly an impact player, you can’t say that Alex Mack isn’t a very good lineman for the Browns at an important position. Would Mack have been available later when the Browns selected? That is up for debate, and really there is no good way to know.
Regardless of whether or not the Browns passed up a big time chance to connect with the past and get a great player in Clay III, they should not pass up this chance.
How many times do you get the opportunity to pick a player that has been raised by a Pro-Bowl family? How many times are Matthews family members going to be bypassed in the draft, only to have long and productive careers? I’m not advocating taking Casey with the 6th pick, but I for one would rather the Browns err on the side of caution and grab Matthews several spots before he is ‘slotted’ to go.