Draft Exclusive: Looks Like Matthews

This high-intensity, long-haired defender is very high on outside linebacker coach Kevin Greene's list. Find out who we're talking about in our latest exclusive story from the NFL Scouting Combine.

When the Green Bay Packers were making the move to the 3-4 defense back in 2009, new outside linebackers coach Kevin Greene was doing his pre-draft scouting work.

At that point, outside linebacker was the team's biggest need, with Aaron Kampman and Brady Poppinga penciled in as the starters. When general manager Ted Thompson asked Greene who he liked among the draft prospects, Greene recalled having only one guy in mind: Clay Matthews.

It's hard to say how many of the prospects he likes in this year's draft, but a source told Packer Report that Greene is high on Arizona's Brooks Reed. Reed said he had a formal interview with the Packers at the Scouting Combine last week in Indianapolis.

There's plenty to like, which is why he's surging up draft boards and could be a target for the Packers with the 32nd overall pick. In three seasons as a starter, Reed totaled 16.5 sacks, including 6.5 as a senior, when he was named first-team all-Pac 10 and the Wildcats' defensive MVP.

With long, blond hair flowing out of the back of his helmet and a burning intensity on the field, he's drawn obvious comparisons to Matthews.

Reed was a defensive end in Arizona's 4-3 scheme but said most of the teams he's talked to like him as a 3-4 outside linebacker. He took part in linebacker drills at the Senior Bowl and at the Scouting Combine last week.

"Obviously, a little bit of Clay Matthews," Reed told Packer Report when asked if he's been watching anyone in the NFL to learn the tricks of the trade. "I've been watching him a lot this year. I just like how relentless he is. He's a dependable player, even to get there at the end of the game and get to the quarterback when he's dead-dog tired. That's what I like about his game."

He's also been working with former NFL linebacker Barry Gardner at Athletes Performance in Phoenix to help make the transition.

"We've been doing drills and all kinds of linebacker stuff," Reed said. "Going into it, we had a pretty simple system down at (Arizona). Having my hand down, we really didn't do much except rush the quarterback. He kind of opened my eyes to the whole scheme of things in a 4-3 and a 3-4 and putting that on the field and adding technique along with it. It's been a building process for me but I think I've come a long way."

Scouts like what they saw from Reed (6-foot-2.5, 263 pounds) on the field and they like him even more after his Combine performance. While Reed tested with the defensive linemen, his 40-yard time of 4.65 seconds would have ranked seventh among the 24 linebackers. More importantly, according NFL Draft Scout's Rob Rang, Reed covered the first 10 yards in 1.54 seconds, which was far faster than all the defensive linemen and even faster than wide receivers A.J. Green, Jerrel Jernigan and Randall Cobb.

That explosion, of course, is a signature of Matthews' game.

"I know a lot of guys compare me to him because of the hair or whatever, but he's a great athlete," Reed said. "(But) he played in a system (at USC) where he was a standup linebacker, where I'm trying to make that transition right now. So, I think it's going to take me a little more time to understand that position, but I have the athletic ability to do that."


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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport and Facebook under Bill Huber.


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