Rumors swirled for weeks that the Falcons had targeted a move up in the 2014 NFL Draft and those rumors intensified throughout Thursday’s buildup to the start of the first round.
When the dust finally settled, the Falcons ended up with a player whose NFL pedigree far surpasses anyone the Falcons could have taken before No. 6 overall.
Texas A&M offensive tackle Jake Matthews was the pick, putting to an end a tense waiting period for fans that ran two weeks longer than normal, and the name was called without the Falcons having to give up any selections.
While the Manning family is well known for success on the field, the Matthews family should not be sold short. The family tree started with Clay Matthews Sr., Jake Matthews’ grandfather, who played four seasons for the San Francisco 49ers in the 1950s. Clay Matthews Jr. was selected in the first round of the 1978 draft with the 12th pick overall by the Cleveland Browns and went on to play 19 seasons.
Perhaps most relevant here is Jake Matthews’ father, Bruce Matthews, who was an All-American offensive lineman selected in the 1983 draft by the Houston Oilers. He spent his entire 19-year career there and was a 14-time Pro Bowl selection — good enough to be tied with Merlin Olsen for most in NFL history.
Jake Matthews’ cousin, Clay Matthews III, is a Pro Bowl linebacker for the Green Bay Packers — and the cousins will meet on Dec. 8 when the Falcons visit the Packers on Monday Night Football.
In the Matthews they drafted Thursday night, the Falcons get a two-time All-American and All-Southeastern Conference first-team selection, who was the cornerstone of the Aggies’ offensive line ever since he stepped on the field for the final seven games of his freshman season. A versatile tackle who can play on the left or right side, Matthews became a starter on an offensive line in 2010 that yielded just 14 sacks in seven contests after allowing 23 in the previous six.
Matthews concluded his career with appearances in 46 consecutive games. His 91.42 percent grade was the second highest for an offensive lineman in the NCAA ranks during the 2013 season as he delivered 116 knockdowns along with 22 touchdown-resulting blocks, including 16 for a rushing attack.