PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The Philadelphia Eagles can’t have Clay Matthews, so they drafted his brother.
Casey Matthews, a linebacker from Oregon, was Philadelphia’s first pick in the fourth round of the NFL draft Saturday. His older brother tormented the Eagles as a member of the Green Bay Packers last year.
“Clay had some success against them,” Matthews said. “At the conclusion of my visit when I was out there, Coach (Andy) Reid said, ‘Tell your brother we’re gonna get him next year with you on the team.’ And I told Clay that. I don’t think they have the Packers on the schedule, but hopefully we get them in the playoffs.”
Clay Matthews was runner-up to Troy Polamalu for The Associated Press 2010 NFL Defensive Player of the Year award. In Green Bay’s season-opening victory at Philadelphia, he knocked quarterback Kevin Kolb out of the game with a concussion. That paved the way for Michael Vick’s remarkable season. But Matthews and the Packers ended the Eagles’ run with another victory in Philadelphia in a wild-card playoff game.
“Being his younger brother is great,” Casey Matthews said. “To see his story, to see him go from a walk-on at USC to where he’s at right now and see all the hard work, dedication and mental toughness that he had to put in, obviously I’ve looked up to him because of it. This offseason, I was fortunate to work out with him for the first time and it made me better as a player and a person.”
The brothers come from a strong football background. Their father, Clay Matthews, Jr., played the third most games in NFL history (278) over 19 seasons as a linebacker for the Cleveland Browns and Atlanta Falcons while earning four Pro Bowl selections. Their uncle, Bruce Matthews, was a Hall of Fame offensive linemen.
“It was a blessing to be a part of the family and all the football history that goes with it,” Casey Matthews said. “Football wasn’t forced on us. My parents wanted us to do whatever made us happy. As soon as we were old enough to sign up for football, that’s what we did.”
Casey Matthews, listed at 6-foot-1 and 231 pounds, played inside linebacker at Oregon. Scouts say athleticism is his biggest strength, he’s intelligent and fundamentally sound.
The Eagles haven’t had a playmaker at linebacker in years. They’ve shuttled several different starters at all three spots in recent seasons, so Matthews should compete for playing time right away.
Minutes after drafting Matthews, the Eagles selected Nebraska kicker Alex Henery with the 120th pick. Henery made 68 of 75 field goals (90.6 percent) at Nebraska, and he also punted.
His arrival could signal the end of David Akers’ career in Philadelphia. Akers has been Philadelphia’s kicker since 1999, but he’s not under contract. Akers, a five-time Pro Bowl pick, including the last two years, was designated a transition tag.
The Eagles began the day by trading down, sending to Tampa Bay the 104th pick they received from Washington in the Donovan McNabb trade last year for the 116th pick used to select Matthews and a fourth in 2012.
They also had two picks in each of the last three rounds. The Eagles chose Pittsburgh running back Dion Lewis and Iowa guard Julian Vandervelde in the fifth round.
Lewis had 1,061 yards rushing on 219 carries and 13 touchdowns last year. Lewis is undersized at 5-foot-8, 195, but scouts say he’s a good inside runner and he’s also shifty.
Lewis rushed for 2,860 yards in just two seasons at Pitt, eclipsing former standout LeSean McCoy’s school record for rushing yards as a freshman and sophomore. McCoy is Philadelphia’s starting running back.
Cincinnati center Jason Kelce and Ohio State linebacker Brian Rolle were the team’s picks in the sixth round. They finished by taking Connecticut linebacker Greg Lloyd and USC fullback Stanley Havili in the seventh round, giving them 11 total draftees.
Lloyd’s father, Greg, was a five-time Pro Bowl linebacker in 11 seasons in the NFL, including 10 with Pittsburgh.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)