Green Bay's Selection of Clay Matthews Four Years in the Making

Aren DowCorrespondent IApril 26, 2009

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - FEBRUARY 23:  Linebacker Clay Matthews of USC runs during the NFL Scouting Combine presented by Under Armour at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 23, 2009 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Scott Boehm/Getty Images)

Clay Matthews may not know how special he is.

After four years of trading down in the draft, Ted Thompson actually moved up into the first round. It was only the second time he has ever traded up since becoming the Packers general manager.

To the surprise, and seemingly approval of most Packer fans, Thompson's moves on Day One give the team the opportunity to add two early impact players on defense.

It is all a result of the previous years of trading down and providing depth.

Looking at the recent swap with the Patriots, it seems the Packers gave up quite a bit. Just to move up 15 spots, Green Bay traded their second-round pick and both their third rounders to grab Clay Matthews.

When I first saw the details of the trade, I was horrified. But one thing that always keeps me calm is knowing Dom Capers is the draft room; if Capers thought it was worth getting Matthews, then that was good enough for me.

Of course, also consoling is the fact that the roster that Thompson has put together is filled with players from previous drafts: Pat Lee, Jordy Nelson, Josh Sitton, Brandon Jackson, the list goes on and on. The hit taken with Matthews can be absorbed considering the years of build-up through previous drafts.

Do I think the Packers gave up too much to get to Matthews? On paper, and right now, yes. But we have no idea how good Matthews will be. Considering what they gave up to get them, Clay will certainly be under intense scrutiny from the Packer faithful.

I hope Thompson moved up solely to fill a couple of those final holes rather than because he was in a panic after the 6-10 year. There was no doubt another OLB was needed; I guess the question is whether or not we could have picked up one with our original second-round pick.

Matthews does bring another element to the Packers. He was selected Co-Special Teams Player for three seasons in a row at USC, and that probably played into the decision as well.

And consider this one last factor, which I'll admit borders on conspiracy theory: Thompson may have wanted to trade away the third rounder the Packers received for Brett Favre.


Back to the filling holes argument, the Packers are only a year removed from a 13-3 season. In '08, Green Bay suffered injuries to Cullen Jenkins, Nick Barnett, Atari Bigby, Al Harris, and, of course, Justin Harrell. Assuming those players can come back to health, adding B.J. Raji and Matthews to the defense makes them look very formidable.

Matthews will most likely have a huge weight upon his shoulders in 2009. If he wins the outside linebacker spot opposite Aaron Kampman, there will be huge expectations.

An outside linebacker has incredible responsibility in the 3-4. He needs the power to combat defensive linemen and the speed to cover running backs in the secondary.

Now for the four-month wait to see if all this was worth it.