How can you put a number on heart, or sheer determination, or the size of a chip on the shoulder, you can’t; but as the NFL becomes increasingly hypnotized by number and not necessarily stats, some good and great college players either become late round draft picks or undrafted signees.
This is the case of Tyler Matakevich, the stud, award-winning linebacker from Temple. Matakevich was the 246th pick in the seventh round of the past month’s draft by the Pittsburgh Steelers. His combine numbers and physical stats (4.81 in the 40 yard dash 6’0 235 lbs) overshadowed his game day stats (493 career tackles which is over 100 in his four year career and 5 interceptions in his award winning senior year. He won the Chuck Bednarik and Bronko Nagurski awards for most outstanding defensive player.
Of course, his college numbers mean nothing know, but I think that Matakevich being drafted by the Steelers will be a perfect fit for him. There is always the blue collar hardworking moniker attached to the team and its community, so that fits as does the team’s hard-nosed play and players, of old and now. He will see plenty of time on special teams where he can just fly down the field and make tackles or be a jammer and take on blockers so his teammate can make the play. As he leans the defensive scheme of Kevin Butler, Matakavich will feel more and more comfortable in his assignments and will start getting on the field more and more as the season progresses.
The knock on Matakavich is that he sometimes gets lost in the wash of blockers and takes bad angles on tackles, but his knack for reading plays and elusive footwork will help his fight through that. He also doesn’t get caught up in the play action, which will also help him be on the field for more plays.
Sometimes you just have to follow your gut and know a good player is a good player, which is what the Pittsburgh Steelers did when they drafted Tyler Matakevich. Look for Matakevich to be a Pittsburgh Steeler for years to come and although he may not be a superstar, he will be a respected NFL player when it is all said and done.