Packers' draft could move LB Matthews to outside

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Head coach Mike McCarthy still plans to appease Clay Matthews by showcasing the defensive star at outside linebacker next season.Packers general manager Ted Thompson validated McCarthy's decision early in the offseason by start...

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Green Bay Packers inside linebacker Clay Matthews, right, sacks Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins during the the NFC Wild Card round on Jan. 10 at FedEx Field. (Photo by Tommy Gilligan / USA TODAY Sports)

GREEN BAY, Wis. - Head coach Mike McCarthy still plans to appease Clay Matthews by showcasing the defensive star at outside linebacker next season.
Packers general manager Ted Thompson validated McCarthy’s decision early in the offseason by starting the team’s final day of the NFL Draft with the fourth-round selection of promising inside linebacker Blake Martinez.
“Clay prefers to play outside. I don’t think that’s a big secret,” said Eliot Wolf, Green Bay’s director of football operations. “So anytime we can add someone inside that helps facilitate that, it’s a good thing.”
The 6-foot-2, 237-pound Martinez, who led Stanford in tackles each of the last two seasons, received high marks from the Packers’ decision-makers. They say he’s an every-down player, especially in passing situations despite some pre-draft concerns about his coverage abilities.
“I think Blake is going to be a good player for us,” said Sam Seale, the Packers’ scout for the West region. “I think he’s a smart guy, he can set a defense. To me, I just thought he was a big, physical guy and we needed guys that are physical on the inside with the smarts to set up the defense.”
Wolf downplayed what had the appearances of a need-based pick, considering the Packers’ projected starters at inside linebacker before the draft were Sam Barrington and Jake Ryan. Barrington is coming back from an ankle injury that cost him all but one game last season, and Ryan was shaky as a front-line player down the stretch.
“We always like to add good players,” Wolf said of Martinez. “I don’t think it was as big of a need as some members of the media like to say it is. We did have a Pro Bowl inside linebacker (Matthews) last year that everyone seems to forget about. But, adding a good player is always good.”
McCarthy also was noncommittal about how things will shake out at linebacker with Matthews and others as the offseason workouts ramp up the next six weeks.
“I think this is a fluid situation,” McCarthy said. “Obviously, Martinez comes in here and gives us a guy that’s played a lot of football.”

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