3. Clay Matthews (Ray’s pick)
Thompson had already taken defensive lineman B.J. Raji with the ninth overall pick and when they added Matthews, the Packers instantly become an improved team.
Matthews, in my opinion, is Ted Thompson‘s third best draft pick over the course of Thompson’s decade in Green Bay.
Not only has Matthews brought 67 sacks, 290 tackles and 94 assists to the Packers defense, but he’s defensed 35 passes, forced 12 fumbles, recovered four fumbles, has intercepted six passes and scored a total of three defensive touchdowns.
There were reasons the Packers signed him to a mega-deal three seasons ago.
Though he has had some issues with injuries, Matthews did put in a full season in 2014 and 2015.
But it was more about numbers in 2014 for Matthews. When the defense was sucking air six games into the 2014 season, the coaches decided to make Matthews really earn his money by moving him inside to help solidify the team’s run defense.
His work inside was exemplary as the Packers began moving him around to keep offenses guessing.
Not only did he help the defense build its toughness and stop the run, he also registered eight sacks over the final 10 games of that year.
In 2014 alone he recorded 11 sacks, had 52 tackles and 19 assists.
Continuing to play inside in 2015, Matthews individual statistics suffered, but the team flourished.
However, the plans are to move Matthews back to the outside so he can play to his strengths. Not only will the Packers defense benefit next season, but the plan is to improve the play of the inside linebacking corps to allow Matthews to stay on the outside.
But Matthews, in true fashion, has been strong during the playoffs. In 10 games, he’s got 10 sacks, 42 tackles and 13 assists. That’s big play from a big player.
Many have criticized Matthews for his injuries and somewhat spotty play. However, like a great wine, he is seeming to get better with time.
In his prime, it looks like Matthews is ready to help take charge of the 2016 team and lead them toward a Super Bowl season.
Next: No. 3 (Freddie's pick)