I talked a lot about LB Casey Matthews over the past few months. I thought he would be a key target for Juan Castillo as he tries to bring some new type of LBs to the Eagles. Matthews is instinctive, has a great motor, and makes plays. He finished his career with 30.5 TFLs, 4 INTs, and 10 pass deflections. That shows the ability to make plays in the backfield or downfield in coverage.
Matthews isn’t huge. He’s not a great athlete. He’s also not a small school guy we took a flier on. Casey is an experienced, talented player who helped lead his team to the national championship game. Quite simply, Casey is a linebacker. A pure LB. There are no thoughts of making him a DE or S.
There is a question of where Casey fits best. I think he can play any spot in the new defense. I don’t anticipate us having the SAM up on the line of scrimmage as much as in the past so even that is a possibility. The reason you might use him there is to cover TEs. I think he’s most likely to be MLB or WLB. Let him use his instincts and nose for the ball in those spots where there is more action.
The Eagles brought Casey to the NovaCare to meet with him and get a better feel for the kind of person he is. Obviously they liked him. My guess is that Castillo loved Matthews’ personality. You can tell by watching game tape that Matthews is tough, driven, and ultra-competitive. He’s a natural leader. He’s a clutch player.
There are no guarantees Matthews will become a starter, let alone a high quality player. I guarantee effort won’t be an issue. He will do everything in his power to be the best player he can. We must keep expectations realistic. He is not Clay Matthews. Not even close. Clay is a disruptive pass rusher. Casey is a 4-3 LB. He’s not going to be an impact player like Clay. A star OLB like Lance Briggs isn’t as much of an impact player as Clay. That’s the difference in being a pass rusher and a LB. I do think Casey could become a good starting LB for us. I don’t anticipate him starting as a rookie, but depending on what happens with Stewart Bradley, it is possible. I think one other aspect of Casey really attracted the Eagles – brains. Casey is smart and coachable. Combine that with his experience and he should be a quick learner in the NFL.
Casey wasn’t my favorite LB in the draft, but I did like him. I think he’ll fit in well here. He is the most natural, instinctive LB we’ve drafted in years (William Thomas maybe). I expect him to be an impact STer in 2011. Let’s hope we have a normal training camp and preseason. It would be great to see him play a lot so we can get a feel for where he is right now and what position he’s best suited for.
Here is a video of Casey getting the call from the Eagles on draft weekend. Very cool stuff.
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I took a little mini-vacation from Sunday through Wednesday so I could travel to L.A. and visit my friend Josh as he did his charity event. That’s why I didn’t post too much in the past few days. That will change now that I’m back in town. I’ll post answers to the draft questions on Thursday or Friday.