May 8, 2014; New York, NY, USA; Jake Matthews (Texas A&M) poses with commissioner Roger Goodell after being selected as the number six overall pick in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft to the Atlanta Falcons at Radio City Music Hall. Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports
Jake Matthews was not the sexiest pick in the 2014 draft.
Clowney. Manziel. Watkins. There were plenty of glam picks out there. But the Falcons opted for Matthews, the Coke-machine sized lineman who will, most likely, be providing protection for Matt Ryan from day one.
And while many folks may not know Matthews, he comes from the Blue Collar First Family of the NFL. The Mannings may have the late night talk show circuit locked up, but the Matthews have the time in the trenches. His dad is Hall of Famer Bruce Matthews, who logged time on the line for three decades, with the Oilers and Titans. His uncle is Clay Matthews, who spent a lifetime with the Browns and a stint with the Falcons in the mid-90s. For good measure, he’s got a couple of cousins in the NFL right now. The guy comes from the most solid NFL pedigree you could ask for.
Shortly before the first pick in the draft was called, there was a tremendous buzz at the Georgia Dome draft party that the Falcons were going to trade up and go for Jadeveon Clowney. Yes, that would have been exciting. And pass rushing is something the Falcons could use.
But what they could use even more is not having Matty Ice on the run — or worse, on his back — as much as he was last season. Ryan was sacked 44 times last season, and the offense put a hit on him 100 times. That’s no way to treat your first round QB. That’s no way to treat a seventh round QB.
Jake Matthews is not a sexy pick. But he’s a great pick. He’s like that worn pair of khakis you grab when there is nothing else to wear — a secure and dependable selection that may not stand out in a crowd at first, but will certainly do the job better than anything else you have lying around.
When the Texans picked Clowney and the buzz subsided, the Falcons faithful in the Georgia Dome sat in their seats to hear Roger Goodell announce the pick of Matthews. Based on the crowd’s reaction it’s pretty clear the Dirty Bird faithful recognize this much — it’s time to protect Matt Ryan, and let Matty Ice do his thing. Welcome aboard, Jake Matthews.