(Editor's Note: With the offseason in full swing, the focus is now shifting to the 2016 season, where the Cowboys have one of the toughest schedules in the NFL. Not only do the Cowboys face five playoff teams but many of the top players in football. So the writers of DallasCowboys.com have ranked the Top 50 players expected to be on the field this season, including the Cowboys. Today, we continue the list with Packers linebacker Clay Matthews.)
Name: Clay Matthews
Team: Green Bay Packers
Experience: 7 seasons
2016 vs. Cowboys: In Week 6 (Oct. 16), the Packers and Cowboys will meet for the sixth time in the last eight seasons. For the first time since 2013, the Cowboys will play host to Green Bay at AT&T Stadium. Green Bay leads the all-time series, 17-16.
What's the Deal:Widely considered one of the league's most dynamic linebackers, Matthews has made six Pro Bowls lining up at multiple positions on the Packers' defense. Relentless with outstanding instincts, he has 372 career tackles, 67.5 sacks, 6 interceptions and 2 defensive touchdowns.
Expect This: Matthews moved to inside linebacker in the Packers' scheme last year but has spent most of his career pass rushing on the outside. The Cowboys' blockers will have to account for him no matter where he lines up.
Previous Meetings: Matthews has faced Dallas five times since joining the Packers as a first-round pick in 2009. Green Bay has won all five, including the 2014-15 Divisional Round classic and last December's rematch at Lambeau Field. Matthews' five-game stat line: 17 tackles, 3.5 sacks, 2 pass breakups and an interception return for a touchdown.
Bryan Broaddus Scouting Report:
- Great passion for the game. An all-out player from snap to whistle. Can see the passion in the way that he goes about his job. Rarely takes a play off.
- Outstanding football intelligence and understanding of scheme. Has to be smart due to how many places he lines up in this defense.
- Best traits are his speed and quickness. Plays with a burst and some serious range. Very reactionary and finisher.
- Plays with body control and balance. Have to catch him just right to knock him off his feet. Better player when he can take on blockers while on the move. When stationary, he has more trouble. Doesn't anchor down all that well when he gets a blocker on him or the ball is right at him.
- Have to say that I have seen him make more tackles than miss. When he gets into position, he can get the job done. Outstanding effort and pursuit to the ball. Doesn't quit on a play.
- Better player as a rusher than he is in coverage. Has made a career coming off the edge but now is asked to rush more from inside. You will see him as part of blitzes where he is in combination with the defensive line.
- Solid key and diagnose. Plays with instincts and a feel for where he needs to be. Have to be aware of him whether he is around the ball carrier or quarterback because of his ability to create turnovers. Is always going to be reaching for that ball. Scheme wise you have to account for him every snap.
- Amazing that he went to USC as a walk-on and now is one of the most productive defensive players in the league.