Clay Matthews

Give him a few years.

It’s another installment of ESPN’s NFL power rankings. This time — linebackers.

The Green Bay Packers’ Clay Matthews came in fourth in the rankings. The San Francisco 49ers’ Patrick Willis was the runaway leader in the voting.

Willis was followed by the Pittsburgh Steelers’ James Harrison and the Dallas Cowboys’ DeMarcus Ware, who were separated by only one point in the voting. Matthews finished 10 points back of Ware, but was 12 better than fifth place — the Baltimore Ravens’ Ray Lewis.

Matthews (24) was also the youngest player on the list, edging out the New England Patriots’ Jarod Mayo (25), who finished sixth.

Looking at the rankings, there isn’t much to argue with at the top. Willis is a four-time All Pro in four NFL seasons. While he might not pile up sack numbers, he’s consistently near the league leaders in tackles and can make plays all over the field.

Harrison and Ware have stat lines that look a lot like Matthews’ because all three are 3-4 outside linebackers. The difference between the three is Harrison and Ware have done it longer.

Something tells me Matthews would be higher on the list a few years down the road.

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