Clay Matthews might be back at outside linebacker, but that doesn’t mean that isn’t a position of need for the Green Bay Packers. After all, their returning sacks leader, Julius Peppers, is 36 and entering his final season under contract.
One potential first-round target for the Packers is Boise State’s Kamalei Correa, who had a formal interview with the team at the Scouting Combine.
Correa showed his explosiveness at the Scouting Combine, which solidified his status as a potential first-round pick. Of the 29 defensive ends and linebackers who we project as 3-4 outside linebacker candidates who were at the Combine, Correa (6-3, 243) ranked sixth with a 40-yard dash time of 4.69 seconds and eighth with a first-10-yards time of 1.62 seconds.
Correa had a huge sophomore season, with Mountain West Conference-leading totals of 12 sacks and 19 tackles for losses. His production dipped a bit as a junior, with seven sacks and 11 tackles for losses. The bulk of that production — three sacks and 6.5 TFLs — came in a three-game span. The NFL’s College Advisory Committee gave Correa a second-round grade, so he decided to make the leap.
“My production did go down from my sophomore year but I really just did the best that I could this year,” Correa said. “I guess my stats weren’t as good as my sophomore year, but it wasn’t any lack of talent or effort or whatnot.”
Correa has played defensive end throughout his football career, including at Honolulu Saint Louis High School, where he was teammates with Marcus Mariota. The University of Hawaii offered Correa a scholarship when he was just 15. At Boise, he said he lined up in a three-point stance on about 80 percent of his snaps. However, he believes he fits best as a 3-4 outside linebacker.
“I’m willing to accept the challenge,” Correa said. “It’s going to be something new to me but I love a new challenge. I love playing football so if they ask me to play special teams, I’m going to play special teams. With the linebacker thing, it’s always been a dream of mine to play linebacker. I feel like my body structure is built for that position.”
Correa’s three favorite players to watch are a trio of 3-4 outside linebackers: Von Miller, Ryan Kerrigan and Clay Matthews. The comparison to Matthews isn’t a bad one. At the 2009 Scouting Combine, Matthews ran his 40 in 4.67 seconds with a 10-yard time of 1.61. They have similar bodies — Matthews was 6-foot-3 1/8, 240 pounds with 32 1/4-inch arms, while Correa was 6-foot-2 5/8, 243 pounds with 31 5/8-inch arms — and strength (on the 225-pound bench press, Matthews had 23 reps and Correa had 21).
“He’s one of the greatest players I’ve ever seen in football,” Correa said of Matthews.
To get ready for a potential move to outside linebacker, Correa said he had been working on his pass-coverage drops for the past month-and-a-half.
“I knew that was a weaker side of my game,” he said. “I’ve been trying to do what I can, the best that I can, and that’s all I can do.”
Correa said the strength of his pass-rushing game is his ability to get off at the snap, an asset that showed with his 10-yard split and he hopes will carry him to a lengthy NFL career.
“It’s an urge that you can’t really explain,” Correa said of rushing the passer. “It’s like a vibe in you that’s so hard to describe. It’s a great feeling and I love getting after the quarterback. If that’s what I’m asked to do, I’m going to do it to the best of my ability.”
Bill Huber is publisher of PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at www.twitter.com/PackerReport.