Shows nice speed in pursuit and good straight-line speed and burst to get upfield as a blitzer. Has a quick first step and can shoot gaps to make plays as a pass rusher. WIlling to meet the blocker or ballcarrier in the hole, and able to make the stop. A sound tackler that is physical at the poitn of attack. Shows ability to get extension and get off blocks on the second level. Does a nice job in coverage when he can keep things in front of him and will deliver hit to receiver after the catch. Shows nice instincts, able to sniff out screen. Keeps working until the whistle and plays with a high motor.
At times will get caught up in traffic, particularly when trying to get off blocks in pursuit. Not as effective outside the hashmarks and won't make as many plays there. Doesn't show the speed and range to cover a lot of ground. Can get caught overpursuing at times. Can get whiff on open field tackles there as well. Can get caught attacking the wrong gap when he's playing upfield. Doesn't have great hips in coverage and can get turned around trying to cover the tight end down the middle.
Matthews is a natural pass rusher and does a good job attacking upfield. He is the ideal fit for a 3-4 inside linebacker. But when you get him outside the hashmarks or ask to use speed, range, and coverage skills he becomes a bit more mediocre. But he's one of those players that in the right scheme, they can cover up for a lot of his flaws and he can become a dynamic playmaker. Started the last 2.5 years at MLB in Oregon's 3-4 scheme. Combined for 227 tackles, 26.5 for loss, 8 sacks, 4 interceptions, 10 pass breakups, 1 forced fumble, and 3 recoveries in the past three seasons. The younger brother of current Packer Clay Matthews III, and son of ex-Falcons/Browns LB Clay Matthews II. Uncle is Bruce Matthews, cousin is Kevin who plays for the Titans. Grandfather also played in the NFL.
I must admit that I didn't think his older brother would impact the league as quickly as he did, and thus might be overrated Casey because of it. But I think like Clay, in a 3-4 scheme, he can impact quickly. He's not great in coverage, but effective, and if he plays a lot of zone, he'll be fine. You don't want him matching up with Reggie Bush on an island, but he'll mostly be effective covering backs and tight ends over the middle. And eventually down the road, as he develops a better feel for angles and space and improves his awareness, he's not going to be a coverage liability. So he'll be a capable every down defender eventually. And what he does best is get after the quarterback and attacking the line of scrimmage. He's not great in pursuit, but he'll be fine there. The scheme he'll fit best in is one that likes to mix up its blitzes like those of Dom Capers or Rex Ryan, that isn't going to drop its ILBs almost every snap into coverage or ask them to defend the run the majority of time. You want him rushing the passer and getting upfield. He can be a guy that if allowed to do that regularly can give you 3-5 sacks. I think Matthews can also play in a 4-3, but I think his potential is limited to be an above average starter. He is best fit for MLB, but isn't as rangy as you want at that position, so he might also play more SAM linebacker in many schemes, where he should get more opportunities to rush the passer off the edge. I would compare him to a less rangy version of Chad Greenway. I think his speed, range, and instincts are good enough that he can be a capable starter in a 4-3 at either MLB or SLB, but I don't think he would live up to his potential.
Matthews can work in Atlanta because he's comfortable playing in space and zone coverage. He would be an undersized SAM linebacker in their scheme, where he would be asked to match up with tight ends and backs in the flat. He can do that, but he's not going to be great in man coverage, particularly right away. And you don't want to put him in situations where he's stuck on an island against elite players, because he's going to lose more often than not. His biggest value in Atlanta is the pressure he can help provide off the edge as a blitzer. He won't be a huge sack artist, but a guy that can consistently get you 3 or 4 sacks a year. Ultimately you're hoping he turns into a smaller version of Scott Fujita, but he would be able to make enough plays eventually that he could be considered a good, but not great starter.
In a 3-4 scheme, Matthews is a solid mid-to-late second round pick. In a 4-3 scheme, because of his only so-so upside, he's probably more of a fourth round pick, although you owuldn't be reaching if you snagged him in the late third.
1-poor, 2-weak, 3-above average, 4-very good, 5-elite
Point of Attack: 3.5
Pass Rush: 3.5
"Vincere scis, Hannibal, victoria uti nescis" -- Maharbal, 216 B.C.E.