With the NFL draft only days away, it’s a great time to look back at the 1978 Draft. Much like 2018, the Browns owned two first-round picks in 1978. We can only hope that this year’s festivities yield the type of talent that was added in 1978.
Browns GM Pete Hadhazy, a name long forgotten by most Browns fans, capitalized brilliantly on the opportunity to pick twice in the first round. We’ll talk about the first of the two picks, linebacker Clay Matthews, Jr. out of USC, but it’s worth noting that Hall-of-Fame tight end Ozzie Newsome was selected at 23 that year. That’s two first-round picks and two careers worthy of Hall of Fame consideration.
At 6’2” 245 lbs., Matthews had great size for his era. He would go on to play 16 seasons in Cleveland and three more for the Atlanta Falcons. The linebacker would amass tremendous numbers surpassing many of the greats of the game. His 278 games played is the most ever for any linebacker. The 1,561 tackles he made are the third-most in history and he is the oldest player to ever record a sack.
The impact made by Clay Matthews goes far beyond the number piled up in a long and consistent career. He was the heart and soul of the Browns defense for over a decade. He was a tackling machine who could attack the opposing quarterback, defend the run or drop into coverage.
Clay played in three AFC Championship games and was a four-time pro bowler. It’s only a matter of time until he finds his rightful place in Canton.