In hindsight, the Jake Matthews pick by the Falcons at No. 6 overall this year makes so much sense, it’s hard to understand how anyone ever believed they would select anyone else. Matthews is expected to be inserted in at right tackle and will help solidify an offensive line that has been a point of emphasis this offseason.
The drafting of Matthews signals the team’s belief that protecting quarterback Matt Ryan is the top priority and rightfully so, but Matthews isn’t just the technically-sound pass blocker that he was billed as coming into the draft — he’s not too shabby as a run blocker either.
“I definitely wouldn’t consider myself strictly a pass blocker,” Mathews said at his post-draft press conference. “I take a lot of pride in being good at run blocking and pass blocking.”
With the Falcons finishing 32nd in the league in rushing last season, it was clear improving that phase of the game would also be a focus this offseason. The beauty of the Matthews pick is that he can help solidify the offensive line in the passing game and the run game. This offseason has been all about winning the line of scrimmage and the pick of Matthews continues that theme.
“We’ve got a really good football player that is not only going to be able to protect our quarterback but he is also going to be able to win the line of scrimmage in the running game,” head coach Mike Smith said after selecting Matthews.
While much of the offensive success Texas A&M experienced in the last two seasons came from the arm and legs of quarterback Johnny Manziel, the Aggies still received contributions from all over their offense and were able to establish a balanced attack. With Matthews leading the way on the offensive line in 2013, A&M averaged 185 yards rushing per game. In 2012, the Aggies ranked No. 11 nationally and No. 1 in the SEC with 242 rushing yards per game.
Pre-Manziel, they still managed to run the ball well. In 2011, with Matthews a sophomore starter, they averaged 199 yards per game, No. 24 in the country.