Clay Matthews - The next Jake Ryan?

Submitted by Moleskyn on October 25th, 2012 at 10:10 AM

I've heard a couple people bust out the comparison of Jake Ryan to Clay Matthews, and there was a discussion in the defensive UFR about future NFLers on our roster. On the surface, the comparison seems fair: Matthews is a hybrid linebacker/pass rusher, who gets into the backfield a lot. You could say the same about Ryan. And of course, the flow is strong in both of them. Obviously, their skill levels are far apart right now, but do we have the next Clay Matthews? I did some research to see.



  Height Weight 40 yard dash
Matthews 6'3" 255 (he weighed in at 240 at the combine) 4.67
Ryan 6'3" 242 HS profile says 4.6 (probably at least 4 FAKES out of 5)

I was actually surprised by this. For some reason, I thought Ryan was undersized. But it looks like Ryan has the build. If he plays through his senior year, he'll probably graduate around 250-260 lb.



Matthews (Source: USC archives)
Year GP Tackles TFL (yards) Sacks FF FR INT
2005 (RS FR) 12 8 (4 solo) 0 0 0 0 0
2006 (RS SO) 13 15 (9 solo) 1.5 (-9) 1 0 0 0
2007 (RS JR) 13 17 (15 solo) 3 (-23) 0 2 0 0
2008 (RS SR) 13 56 (28 solo) 9 (-59) 4.5 2 2 0

Interestingly enough, Matthews was an unheralded walk-on at USC. He really only played special teams in his first 3 seasons (though he excelled at that, winning USC's Co-Special Teams Played of the Year in both 2006 and 2007), and wasn't awarded a scholarship until 2006. And it wasn't until his senior season when he started to get consistent time at linebacker. He played alongside Brian Cushing and Ray Mauluga; talk about a scary defense. (Source, Wikipedia.)

Ryan (Source: MGoBlue)
Year GP Tackles TFL (yards) Sacks FF FR INT
2011 (RS FR) 13 37 (20 solo) 11 (-53) 3 1 2 0
2012 (RS SO) 7 52 (34) 8.5 (-45) 3.5 2 0 0

Jake Ryan has just been nuts this year. He's already surpassed almost all of his numbers from last year... in half the number of games played.

Ryan may turn out to be nothing like Clay Matthews. That's certainly a difficult level of performance to attain. And with the contributions he's already made to the program, I would be just fine with that. But he's got the frame, he's been putting together some nasty numbers... and he's got the flow!

What do you think?



October 25th, 2012 at 10:33 AM ^

Clay Matthews is a great player no doubt, but he's from USC!  What's next, Jake Ryan is just like AJ Hawk???  Can we please not compare any of our best players to anyone from USC, ugh ever.  If they didn't have similar hair the discussion would have never started.  Lets not get overly into how a player looks, it's meaningless.


October 25th, 2012 at 2:34 PM ^

Outside of the flow, they do have similar playing style, and play the same position.

As to the first half of your post - who cares? Are we only allowed to compare our players to guys who played for Michigan? I don't know if you know this, but USC has had a lot of good players who I'd be fine comparing our guys to. Let's just say if we had a safety who played like Palomalu, I wouldn't be upset about it.

Perkis-Size Me

October 25th, 2012 at 12:19 PM ^

i've thought about this a lot, aside from the obvious flow comparison. ryan's got a long way to go before being on the same talent level as matthews, but there are some striking similarities. i'll wait to make the judgment call until i actually see him play in an nfl uniform.


October 25th, 2012 at 12:33 PM ^

Interesting comparison, and thanks for posting this. 

It's interesting to think about what sort of production Clay Matthews would have gotten for his career at USC if he had more than just his senior season with consistent time at linebacker. As it stands, Jake Ryan could very will surpass Matthews in career total tackles by the end of this year  - Matthews had 96 total tackles (56 assisted), whereas Ryan already has 89 tackles (54 assisted). 


October 25th, 2012 at 6:23 PM ^

And the reason he wasn't playing earlier is because Keith Rivers (all-American and #9 pick in the draft) was starting and was probably the best college player out of that group.

However, that crazy run of success at the position was followed by a ridiculous string of bad luck.  The Trojans could easily had just as good a group following them if Frankie Telfort (heart ailment ended his career), Jarvis Jones (SC doctors didn't clear him to play following a neck injury so he transferred to Georgia and murdered QBs), Vontaze Burfict (decommitted at the last minute and went to ASU), and Te'o (thought to be coming to SC until apparently God told him to head to South Bend to "make his own path" at a school where they of course have never had good football players before) had ended up contributing.


October 25th, 2012 at 1:37 PM ^

and one of the announcers, Danny Kanell I think, said something like, "Jake Ryan is unorthodox, but he gets the job done."  Just struck me as an odd comment - why I am surprised by odd comments coming from announcers is my own problem I guess.  What's unorthodox about a 6'3" 240 lbs. linebacker who plays like Ryan does?  Maybe because he's not always just moving in a straight line and is more athletic than typical college linebackers?

The Wolf

October 25th, 2012 at 2:38 PM ^

I think Hoke and Mattison have both referenced this at different times, but what I understand it to mean is that Jake Ryan can get away with being a bit less sound with his technique than other players.  He has great athleticism that allows him to make up for an error in his technique (say, a false step or wrong angle with hips/shoulders on the end of the line), at this level at least.  

I also take it to mean that he must have a better-than-average grasp of the game mentally, which also allows him to "understand" and predict the flow of a play better than others.  I think you often hear it referenced as "having a nose for the football" as well.  I've had experience with guys like that (though surely not at Jake's level), who understand the game well and - no matter what happens in a play - always end up around the football/making a play.


October 25th, 2012 at 3:36 PM ^

Really? You must be one of those people who tries to read a racial angle into everything.

I actually started to do a comparison between Ryan and Terrell Suggs (they actually have very similar height/weight and play similar positions), but decided not to, because Suggs was such an unbelievable player in college, the comparison would have been completely homerish. If Ryan turns into half the player that Suggs is, he'll have a great college and pro career.


October 25th, 2012 at 4:45 PM ^

Truly not re-writing history when I say I was extremely excited when Ryan hit the recruiting scene. I was a premium Scout member at the time and, if you recall, Ryan was a rather late appearing and largely unrecruited kid on the "guru" scene. Then, towards the end of the recruiting cycle we hear RR is talking to and bringing in Ryan. I had only heard his name one time before that and it was by chance from an old friend of mine who coaches HS in Ohio, saying: (paraphrase) "Got a lot of good players around here. One kid named Ryan hardly has any buzz and not only is his teammate going to osu but he may be better.....just injured a lot."
I kind of ignored it and remembered when we came to him late. Flipped on his game tape and though he was largely unblocked and blitzed most of the time he was clearly instinctive, big framed and fast. I loved his tape and despite the generic NR-2* ranking, I remember posting "GET HIM HERE NOW!" and being stoked when he committed on his visit. He added weight and was lucky enough to RS so he wasnt to harmed by the RR defensive staff like BWC and many others were (IMO).

If he stays for 4 years (I think he will), he could easily be a late 1st/early 2nd round type kid. Easily.


October 25th, 2012 at 6:24 PM ^

Yea totallay overrated. God some of you need to find something better to do. (This in regards to this post being negged at the time I replied to said post)

Really though, nicely put.  I always hear how he wasn't highly rated as a recruit but it seems there were some people in the Ohio area "in the know", regarding football talent, that saw something in this kid.  Glad Rich Rodriguez did as well.  Even more glad to see him work under an NFL caliber D-Coordinator the past 2 years.


October 25th, 2012 at 9:19 PM ^

Thanks. Yeah, dont really care or follow the "negging" here as I post from the App, cant see and dont care anyway. Many people here just do it to do it and, IMO, is just a retarded cockroch level idea. Just dumb and pointless. I've never "negged" as, if I don't like an opinion or story, I ignore it. Worst case? I give my opposing opinion in a decent manner, lol.
As for Ryan, my old HS buddy played major D1 ball and then became a HS coach in Ohio after almost making a few NFL teams. He coached against Ryan and I recalled that comment when we recruited him. Glad he came here and was even as a low ranked kid. Can say the same for Dileo. Yet, was also happy about never know.


October 25th, 2012 at 11:25 PM ^

Ryan was offered very late after RR missed on a couple of higher rate lb's..cant remember who they were. I do remmeber the talk that his teammate was going to Ohio but Jake might be the better player.  What kills me is how he didnt make it on the field his freshman year when our D was soooo freaking bad.