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New NFL Royalty: Matthews Bloodlines Pervading Professional Football

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New NFL Royalty: Matthews Bloodlines Pervading Professional Football

Texas A&M offensive lineman Jake Matthews. Photo by Brian Carriveau of

INDIANAPOLIS––When Clay Matthews entered the NFL draft back in 2009, there were doubts whether an undersized former college walk-on was not only worthy of a first round draft choice but whether he'd succeed in the NFL.

In hindsight, perhaps no one should have been surprised. All one had to do was look at his lineage and see that Matthews comes from good stock.

His father, Clay Jr., was a four-time Pro Bowler during a 19-year career spent primarily with the Cleveland Browns. His grandfather, Clay Sr., played defensive end for the San Francisco 49ers for four seasons in the 1950s.

When Clay III took the field for the first time as a rookie, his family became only the second in history to have three generations of NFL players.

If that's not enough, Clay's uncle Bruce is an NFL Hall of Famer after playing 19 years entirely with the Tennessee Titans franchise.

Clay III is now up to 255 lbs., named to the Pro Bowl four times in his first five seasons has exactly 50 career sacks and is the highest-paid linebacker in the NFL. It's probably safe to say that pick the Packers spent in trading up for Matthews in 2010 was worth the investment.

While he hasn't enjoyed quite the same success, Clay's brother Casey is now also entering his fourth year as a linebacker with the Philadelphia Eagles.

If there's a lesson to be learned, perhaps no team should be doubting that Jake Matthews is the No. 1 overall prospect in this year's draft class and will also go onto a long and distinguished career.

Bruce's son and Clay III's cousin is at the NFL Combine this week looking to become the next in a long line of Matthewses to make his mark in professional football

"I’d like to think I wasn’t grandfathered in," laughed Matthews on Thursday. "I hope I earned my way here. It is special the family I came from and the relationships I have with my dad and cousins and brothers and all the people who have gone through this process. So that’s really special and something (where) I can look to them to ask what it was like, what their experience with it was. So far it’s been good. I’ve enjoyed it."

For the record, no Jake doesn't practice doing one-on-one drills against his cousin, but he says he is looking forward to playing against him.

Jake arguably could have entered the draft a year ago and been a first round draft choice but chose to return to Texas A&M for his senior season.

One might assume Matthews returned to take care of unfinished business, blocking for returning Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel and helping the Aggies compete for the SEC title.

But the biggest reason he returned? To have the opportunity to play with maybe the next Matthews to follow in his family's footsteps: younger brother Mike was a sophomore starter on the Texas A&M offensive line.

Although he's currently ranked as the No. 2 overall prospect by, nothing is set in stone for Jake. Jadeveon Clowney and any number of quarterbacks can stake a legitimate claim to being the top player in the 2014 draft class. And some might think fellow offensive lineman Greg Robinson has the higher ceiling.

Jake's lineage, however, tells a different story.

In a twist of irony, there's another highly-rated prospect in this year's draft class also in Jake Matthews' bloodline: Notre Dame tight end Troy Niklas, considered the fourth-ranked tight end by

Interestingly enough, it's Jake's and Troy's mothers that are sisters. So no, Troy and Clay are not related, although they are mutual acquaintances.

"Our families have spent some time in Texas," said Niklas. "I knew him before he got big."

It isn't out of the question that someday they'll be teammates. Tight end appears to be one of the biggest needs on the Packers roster with both Jermichael Finley and Andrew Quarless up for free agency.

If there's pressure on Jake and Troy to live up to expectations, it's not showing, not in the bright spotlight of the NFL Combine.

"Not too much, no," said Jake Matthews. "Just try to go out there and do the best I can."

Notre Dame tight end Troy Niklas. Photo by Brian Carriveau of

Brian Carriveau is the author of the book "It's Just a Game: Big League Drama in Small Town America," and editor of Cheesehead TV's "Pro Football Draft Preview." To contact Brian, email [email protected].

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (15) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Nononsense's picture

This is the draft that TT would be wise to trade out of the 1st round entirely and pick up multiple 2nd day picks. Especially if guys like Nix and Pryor are off the board before pick 21.

His track record for picking in the 1st round is not good so why risk it. Having 3 2's and 3 3's in a deep draft like this would be the best bet.

Niklas is one of the guys that I would definitely consider on day 2. Excellent redzone target and good fit for the power running game they are establishing.

D B H's picture

The last time the Pack had 3 second round picks, they selected 1) Jordy Nelson 2) Brian Brohm and 3) Pat Lee. I think trading UP to match value with need and targeting a player TT really *wants* would be a better option, assuming there is someone worth going after.

Badger's picture

That's Taylor Lewan.

Eraserhead's picture

SO will they also become overpriced, overhyped, injury prone players with deficient hamstrings?????

4thand1's picture

Alright you clown, you made your point. You must be artroll or mundumbdane. Either way you suck ass. Don't remember seeing eraserhead before. You are a professional troll though. Cats outa the bag, you POS.

Eraserhead's picture

Why does everyone keep talking about trolls?? WTF? Did I stumble onto a J.R.R. Tolkien fan club? I think Frodo was a wuss and Sauron was really kick-ass. Don't get all the troll love though. Orcs are cooler.

4thand1's picture

Nice try, but playing dumb is something you're not doing well. Funny, your posts are sure dumb though.

Eraserhead's picture


ray nichkee's picture

Eraserhead, you're comments are not as dumb as clown/cow42 and arlo but somtimes I whonder if you are all the same guy. Anyhow your reply to the troll comment just exposed you as a buggar eating, basment dwelling loser living with your mom and only has two other friends and get together on sundays to display your crap that nobody else cares about and somehow call it a game. How do you find time to watch football? I'm not trying to cut you down, I am just wondering if I am correct because no football fan would use the crap you just referenced. Star wars is cool, let's just leave it at that.

Eraserhead's picture

Are you for real? I didn't understand half of what you wrote, but everybody loves LOTR you dummy!!! Shame on you!! Morgoth disapproves.

ray nichkee's picture

So what year is morgoth eligible for the hall of fame? He was a speacial teams ace right? He came out of SMU a few years back right? For some reason I can't find him on any packer roster. I saw enough of the first movie eraserhead, but I had a hard time choosing from the 10 things in my head that sounded better than composting my brain with that crap. Maybe I am nobody but I am not everybody because I would rather go fishing or make something if I have two hours to kill. Just putting it out there. If I want to watch something I want to piss my pants; clerks, mallrats, the big lebowski. Watch the movie slapshot. Way better investment of time.

Eraserhead's picture

Sooo silly!! Morgoth, originally known as Melkor is the meanest, toughest bastard in the universe. He was one of the original Ainur created by Eru Iluvatar at the beginning of time, but he was an evil motherfucker, so he rebelled and brought death and destruction to the universe. He punches Zeus in the face! He makes Lucifer his prison bitch! His name literaly means Black Enemy of the World (kinda racist I know). You wish he played football for the Packers. He would double as a freak tight end and a linebacker. He would score on every single play, demolishing all 11 Seahawk defenders like little girls!! Kam Chancellor would cry!! He would give us a dozen Super Bowl wins.

You saw the first movie "Eraserhead"? As far as I know there's only one. David Lynch is one Kuh Racy SOB!!

ray nichkee's picture

I saw eraserhead dumbfuck. I was refering to lotr or what ever that gay ass shit was you just spewed out. You probably wear diapers when you watch that shit. Even after the 100th time. The packers are from green bay. They wear green and gold uniforrms. Get a life dude. If you speak that foolishness while you are greeting people at walmart you will get fired even though you are handicapped.

ray nichkee's picture

Btw eraserhead, if your name was ballsack I would have said I saw enough of the first movie ballsack, fuck lotr and get some sunlight.

Eraserhead's picture

You sir, are the epitome of class!

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