Bears Day 2 Draft Prospects: Inside Linebacker

Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports
Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports /
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Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports /

Tyler Matakevich, Temple (6’0 | 238 | 4.76) – Three-time team captain who has lead the Owls in tackles in every game during his four seasons at Temple. Matakevich became only the seventh FBS player to have over 100 tackles in four consecutive years. He’s been a tackling machine inside, using his elite awareness and play diagnosing skills to attack decisively and play faster than his sub-par timed speed. Matakevich excels between the hash marks, is skilled at shedding blocks, aggressively attacks the line of scrimmage instead of waiting for plays to come to him, and is a very effective blitzer up the middle.

His lack of speed can be an issue on outside runs or if he’s matched in man coverage against anyone, but Matakevich is surprisingly effective in zone coverage with five interceptions and five pass deflections in 2015. He lacks ideal size and length, which can be a problem when matched up against tall tight ends or massive linemen. Matakevich can also get swallowed inside by bigger guards, but generally does a good job avoiding blockers. He can be over-aggressive causing him to run past plays or get fooled by misdirection, but his ability to read plays correctly is among the best at the position in this year’s draft.

The Bears signed two starting ILBs in free agency, Trevathan & Freeman, but the former is more of a mobile sideline-to-sideline backer, while the latter is more of a run-stuffer between the hashes who improved his coverage skills last season. Freeman is almost 30 though and the Bears could be looking for a future run-stopping replacement inside, which fits Matakevich to a tee. With a 3rd round pick, the Bears could get a solid back-up for Freemen with the upside to take his job as soon as 2017.

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