There were many things that went wrong for the Atlanta Falcons in the 2013 NFL season, but the biggest problem was their offensive line, specifically the inability to protect their $100 million franchise quarterback. Rather than doing anything unconventional with their first pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, the Falcons picked up Texas A&M offensive tackle Jake Matthews with the sixth overall pick last night.
While injuries were one of the big issues for the Falcons last season, those are X-Factors that a team doesn’t really have control over. But one factor a team certainly can control is its ability to protect their quarterback.
Last year, Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan was sacked 44 times during the season, including nine coming in the final week. Only Miami’s Ryan Tannehill and Baltimore’s Joe Flacco were sacked more this season. Neither of those teams made the playoffs. The previous sack record for Ryan in a season was 28 times, set back in 2012.
Jake is now the newest member of the Matthews NFL family legacy. He joins his cousins, Green Bay Packers linebacker Clay Matthews III and Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Casey Matthews, as active members of the NFL.
But the list of Matthews in the NFL is not limited to these three men. Jake’s father, Bruce Matthews, is a Hall of Fame offensive lineman for the Houston Oilers/Tennessee Titans, was selected to 14 Pro Bowls as well as being a ten-time All-Pro.
Jake also has connections regarding football and the city of Atlanta. Jake’s uncle, Clay Matthews Jr., was a four-time Pro-Bowler and three-time All-Pro linebacker, who played for the Cleveland Browns as well as the Atlanta Falcons. Jake’s grandfather, Clay Matthews Sr., was an offensive lineman for Georgia Tech before playing professionally with the San Francisco 49ers.
While nothing is ever certain in the NFL, the Falcons drafting Matthews seems like a no-brainer. At Texas A&M, Matthews was a team captain, charged with protecting the eventual 22nd pick of this year's draft, quarterback Johnny Manziel. And with Matthews’ bloodline, Matty Ice should sleep easy knowing he’ll be well-protected for the next decade.