Jake Matthews quickly growing into a leader


May 9, 2014; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Falcons first round draft pick tackle Jake Matthews (with jersey) shown with his family during a press conference at Falcons Training Facility. Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

If I were calling the shots at TMZ, I would issue this memo: “Ignore Jake Matthews. Not worth our time.”

The Atlanta Falcons’ first round draft pick comes with impressive football pedigree to start — his dad is Hall of Famer Bruce Matthews, and his uncle is former Falcon Clay Matthews. He has family littered throughout the NFL and college ranks. And all of them are stand-up, lunch-pail kind of NFL players.

While Johnny Manziel is, well, being Johnny Manziel, Matthews, the sixth pick in the draft, is solidly showing why he has the makeup to log two decades in the NFL, just as his father and uncle did.

The 6’5”, 305 pound tackle is undoubtedly talented enough to be the rock of an offensive line for the rest of Matt Ryan’s career. But what is emerging is clear evidence that he also has his head screwed on straight and will emerge as a team leader probably before the Saints come to town for week one.

Matthews recently blogged for the NFL on his experience at the NFL Rookie Symposium, a session designed to keep NFL draftees from being their own worst enemies.

He talked finances:

"I can probably guarantee that most of the rookies here don’t know much about finance, so having the opportunity to gain a better understanding of it has been helpful. Surround yourself with people you trust, build a good team. It’s so much more than being a good football player. This is the setup for the rest of your life. It’s going to pay its dividends later down the road if we take advantage of what’s offered to us."

He mentioned the support network the NFL is providing, and how he plans to utilize it:

"They are giving us so many tools to help us not slip up, so it’s up to us to make the most of it. One thing we talked about is how as men, we are not “supposed to” let other people know when stuff is bothering us. But they are encouraging us to let people know if we are having issues so we can take care of them before they build up and explode."

And he said how he knows it takes more than just being a behemoth of an offensive lineman to succeed:

"It’s a job, it’s competitive. If you can’t perform, you’re outta there. I have a pretty good understanding of that. Without a doubt, my values and ethics come from my Mom and my Dad, but the Symposium is a good reminder of a lot of other things."

Jake Matthews ascent to the NFL has been the textbook way of doing it correctly. His gift of size combined with his solid upbringing and obvious grounding are wonderful clues that Jake Matthews is poised to be a leader for the Atlanta Falcons. And a bust for TMZ.