I'll be honest, I'm not a big college football fan, nor do I scour over prospects like some Falcoholic faithful. As such, I'd never heard of Cliff Matthews before the Falcons drafted the 6'4 260 pound former Gamecock. After researching our new DE at length, I had an interesting revelation: the kid has skills. I'm talking MAD skills. IMO he may be the single biggest steal of 2011's draft. For the record, Julio Jones doesn't count as a "steal," since everyone was gunning for him.
Matthews had 7 sacks in 2009, and then for reasons unknown, he elected to play out his college career at SC. Unfortunately a shoulder injury limited his production last fall (when he amassed 5.5 sacks and 6.5 tackles for a loss), and as a result, his draft stock plummeted. Hindsight sucks, especially when you're a professional athlete, but he's not looking back.
"Me being a seventh-rounder means I have a lot of work to do," said Matthews.
Matthews is known for his motor, but so are a lot of prospects. What makes him special is how much he hustles play-in-and-play-out. His work ethic and leadership made him second team All-SEC in 2010. Interestingly, the shoulder harness that pretty much allowed him to still start all 13 of the Gamecocks' games last year is probably what ultimately inhibited his productivity.
When he took the shoulder harness off - which probably hurt like youknowwhat - he absolutely torched Tennessee's offensive line and logged two sacks in arguably the best game of his college career. His straight line speed is ridiculous (4.82 40 at the combine). And I'm convinced Ray Hamilton can make him into Garry Williams' worst nightmare.
In case you couldn't tell, I'm excited about what this kid can do. Some Falcoholics have opined that El Sid is an eggo waffle away from a breakout season, but I'm less than convinced. And when I'm proven correctamundo, ready yourself for the storm that is brewing in Cliff Matthews Land.