The order has come down from the top.
Protect Matt Ryan.
Make sure the Atlanta Falcons leader doesn’t have to get sacked 30-plus times ever again. Texas A&M’s Jake Matthews would be an ideal fit as his blind-side protection.
The Falcons have already been in contact with him, as he was reported to have met with the team at the combine, according to ESPN.com’s Vaughn McClure. Matthews has all of the tools to be a franchise left tackle for the Falcons’ fearless leader.
Texas A&M University
Height: 6'5-1/2" Weight: 308 pounds
Arm Length: 33-3/8" Hand Measurement: 9-7/8"
40-yard dash: 5.07 sec. 10-yard split: 1.70 sec.
20-yard shuttle: 4.47 sec. Three-cone Drill: 7.34 sec. Bench Reps: 24 reps
Vertical Jump: 30.5" Broad Jump: 8'9"
2013: 13 Games Started at Left Tackle
2012: 13 Games Started at Right Tackle
2011: 13 Games Started at Right Tackle
2010: 7 Games Started, 10 Games Played at Right Tackle
Matthew’s biggest strength is his athleticism and experience on both sides of the offensive line. He’s able to keep up with any speed rusher, as his kick step and foot work is some of the best in the draft. He understands how to effectively mirror pass-rushers and protect a quarterback’s blind side.
In run blocking, he can drive players off the ball and create rushing lanes both inside and out. He’s extremely technically savvy and has high football IQ. On top of all of that, he’s effective as a pulling lineman for both screens and run plays.
The weakest part of the Texas A&M product’s game is when he has to handle power rushers. Matthews tends to get powered over and doesn’t have the nasty streak to fight dirty. He’s not known as a tough guy and is much more of a technician.
He doesn’t have the dominant drive that could lead to the entire defensive line being wiped out from one of his blocks. Also, there are questions based on his experience protecting mobile quarterbacks that make teams wonder how he will do with a statue behind the line.
How does he fit the Comrade Filter?
Matthews is the penultimate teammate. He’s never been a problem off the field and comes from a long line of offensive linemen. Of course, Matthews also fits into the team captain philosophy the Falcons have employed under general manager Thomas Dimitroff.
Matthews is the second-best offensive lineman in this draft behind Greg Robinson. He’s a franchise-caliber left tackle who could start out his career on the right side if needed. As he starts to deteriorate late in his career, he could do what his father Bruce did and continue moving inside to guard and then center.
Ryan would love having Matthews and Justin Blalock defend his blind side as they would form an excellent pass-protection combination there. Matthews could also play on the right side of the line with new addition Jon Asamoah to fix the right side back to 2008-2010 caliber talent.
How he would fit into the Falcons' plans
If the Falcons wanted to bring Matthews aboard, they'd have to spend the No. 6 overall pick on him. The question of which side of the field he would play really depends on what happens with Sam Baker and his injury situation.
If Baker gets injured again, he's as good as gone long term. Matthews would them be the long-term answer at left tackle, so cutting Baker would have to be done for cap relief. The only way Baker doesn't play left tackle if he's healthy is if the coaches believe Matthews is just plain better there.
Scott Carasik is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. He covers the Atlanta Falcons, College Football, NFL and the NFL draft. He also runs DraftFalcons.com.