Atlanta Falcons: Grading the past four first-round draft picks
2014: Jake Matthews
With the sixth-overall pick in 2014, the Falcons looked to shore up a struggling offensive line. Landing Jake Matthews out of Texas A&M was the benefit of picking so high.
Matthews struggled as a rookie. Coming in and playing on the offensive line in year one is a tough gig, and it sure doesn’t help when dealing with ankle injuries as he was. But in 2015, the tackle took a major jump and looked much more like the player the Falcons had hoped for when they took him so high in the draft.
Pro Football Focus ranked Matthews 19th of 77 graded tackles, which is excellent for a second-year player. He received a 79.5 overall grade (in the ‘starter’ category) — 80.1 in pass blocking and 70.5 in run blocking. Matthews isn’t yet the finished product, but he put together a very solid year for the Falcons.
Protecting Matt Ryan and ensuring the run game continues its high level of play in 2016 is huge for the offense to flow, and Matthews will play a key part of this. Based on his 2015 performances, there’s plenty of confidence he will continue to get better.