Green Bay Packers linebacker Clay Matthews was revealed as the No. 77 player on the NFL Network’s annual “Top 100 Players of 2014” list on Wednesday night.
For Matthews, that represented a significant drop—he was No. 31 on the same list for 2013.
But Matthews missed five regular-season games, as well as the team’s Wild Card Playoff loss to the San Francisco 49ers because of a fractured thumb and was limited to 41 tackles and 7.5 sacks. He did match a career high, however, with three forced fumbles.
Detroit Lions running back Joique Bell said Matthews was an easy pick.
“Going off his production and the intensity he brings to the game, he’s just a fierce linebacker and you have to respect him,” Bell said. “For that reason, I would put him in the [top] hundred.”
Bell’s teammate, tight end Joseph Fauria, knows first-hand what Matthews brings.
“He’s definitely a guy who is a tremendous threat off the edge as a pass rusher,” Fauria said. “He’s a forced to be reckoned with. We face him twice a year and we definitely game plan for him.”
Teammates respected his effort when he attempted to play through the thumb injury last season.
“He’s a playmaker,” defensive end Mike Daniels said. “Even when he had the broken thumb and had that club on his hand, teams had to account for Clay.”
Of course, no discussion of Matthews is complete without getting into the personality side of things.
“He’s a guy who deserves what he’s paid … and he’s great on TV,” Fauria said, referencing Matthews’ bevy of endorsements and commercials.
And then there’s the hair.
“I think I’ve gotten hit with some water flying off the tips of his hair sometimes,” Daniels said. “You can hear it slap against his jersey. I think he throws it around like that on purpose.”
Matthews is the third Packer to be revealed on the list. On May 14, running back Eddie Lacy was revealed as the No. 90 player on the list and wide receiver Jordy Nelson was identified as the No. 83 player during the same airing.
Players 61 through 70 will be revealed next Wednesday.
Matthews, who is entering his sixth season out of USC, was the 26th overall pick in the 2009 draft by the Packers and is a four-time Pro Bowler who was an All-Pro selection in 2010.
He has 50 career sacks—fourth on the Packers’ all-time list—to go with four interceptions, 10 forced fumbles and 245 tackles.