ESPN NFL draft guru Todd McShay has released his latest mock draft, and in the sixth overall spot he has the Atlanta Falcons taking Texas A&M offensive tackle Jake Matthews.
Matthews, the consensus best tackle and second best offensive lineman overall, would be an immediate upgrade up front for an Atlanta offense that struggled to protect quarterback Matt Ryan all season. Big, strong, and most importantly long, Matthews has the versatility to play either right or left tackle in the NFL. McShay also points out that he comes from a good football bloodline because his father is former NFL lineman Bruce Matthews.
It’s a safe pick for the Falcons if they stay put at six and just take the best player available. But, safe isn’t what the Falcons need this year in the draft. What they need is someone who can make an immediate impact on the defensive side of the ball.
I would like to see them to either trade up for Jadeveon Clowney, or grab another pass rusher like the athletic outside linebacker Anthony Barr from UCLA. In fact, McShay’s foil on the World Wide Leader, the venerable Mel Kiper, has Atlanta taking Barr in his mock.
The Falcons have needs on the offensive line for sure. They were abysmal in both pass protection and run blocking all season long. But, the pass rush is equally as pressing a need as the big boys up front on the offensive side. I would pass over Matthews for a pass rusher because you can find quality lineman in later rounds, but top-tier pass rushers don’t last.
If the Falcons want a different maker on the defensive side in this draft, and I say that is a must for them, they have to either wait to take one at six or leverage the pick in a trade to move up and get Clowney.