It comes down to whether success can be repeated in back-to-back years. That's what New England needs when on the clock in April. A top ranked linebacker who can grow with the program as the aging veterans around him head off to retirement would be perfect.
Surveying the top prospects at No. 23 in the Scout.com Mock Draft wasn't easy, many choices with plenty of holes to fill. You can see why NFL clubs take months to get their material together, coupling hundreds of reports from dozens of scouts and personnel staffers.
Taking Matthews with the pick wasn't a reach as some might expect. Considered one of the top linebackers available, Matthews has earned his position in the first round after working his way up from a walkon at USC to fighting for playing time with fellow first round prospects Rey Mauluga and Brian Cushing.
New England needs another linebacker to add depth at a position once considered a strength. Mike Vrabel is plying his trade with the Kansas City Chiefs. Rosevelt Colvin is a free agent looking for a home. Junior Seau is surfing in San Diego. Despite the return from injury of former big money free agent pickup Adalius Thomas, the return of third round pick Shawn Crable and the arrival of former Patriots Tully Banta-Cain, New England needs another play maker.
With Both of his teammates selected already, Matthews was the best linebacker available. Qhilwe an argument could be made for Ohio State product James Laurinaitis, memories of Andy Katzenmoyer, Bobby Carpenter and Vernon Gholston quickly put aside the thoughts of another OSU product.
Versatility -- a Patriots must have -- is defined by looking at Matthews' bio.
Experience at outside linebacker? Check
Inside linebacker? Check.
Co Special teams Leader two years running? Check
Loves playing football? Check
Matthews has it all.
Having NFL pedigree doesn't hurt either. Matthews' father Clay was a Browns linebacker for the Cleveland Browns and Atlanta Falcons. His uncle Bruce Matthews played for the Oilers / Titans until his retirement.
To keep up with the LIVE Mock Draft, check the Draft Forum here
It's a great insight as to how teams have to adjust their thinking when players they want come off the board.