NFL Draft Report Dream Team: OT Matthews

Texas A&M's Jake Matthews boasted a 91.42% grade in 2013, the second-highest for any offensive lineman in the NCAA ranks, according to the NFL Draft Report's analysis. Dave-Te' Thomas and his scouts go deep on his member of football royalty.

While Jake Matthews comes from one of professional football's "Royal Families" and is regarded as a certain early first-round draft selection, the Aggies' left tackle has had to take a back seat on most of the teams' draft boards behind Auburn's Greg Robinson. Prior to the start of the 2013 campaign, the senior was recognized as not only the best offensive tackle in college, but some talent evaluators even considered him to be the 2014 draft's best player.

Matthews did nothing to see his draft stock drop last year — it was just that Robinson's eye-opening performances and long-range potential surpassed that of the A&M four-year starter. Teams realize that vast potential in Robinson, but more conservative general managers also prefer Matthews, calling him the draft's "safest bet" at the offensive tackle position that could also see Michigan's Taylor Lewan be selected in the first half of the first round.

While the Manning family is well-known for their success on the football field, the Matthews family has been a virtual "supply line" for standout players to perform in the National Football League. The Aggies' offensive tackle is the next to carry on that tradition and is expected to be the fourth family member to be selected in the first round of the draft.

The NFL pipeline began with Jake's grandfather, Clay Matthews Sr., who played four seasons for the San Francisco 49ers in the 1950. One of his sons, Clay Jr., was selected in the first round of the 1978 draft with the 12th pick by the Cleveland Browns and the linebacker went on to star in the NFL for 19 seasons, playing in 278 games.

Clay Sr.'s other son, Bruce, Jake's father, was an All-American offensive lineman who was selected in the first round of the 1983 draft, taken with the ninth pick by the Houston Oilers. Bruce spent his entire 19-year career with the same team, moving with the Oilers to Tennessee, where he would later serve as an assistant coach. He was a 14-time Pro Bowl selection, the most in NFL history, a record shared with Merlin Olsen.

The next Matthews kin to hear his name called in the first round of the draft was Clay Jr.'s son, Clay III, who was taken with the 26th pick of the 2009 draft by the Green Bay Packers, as he has gone to the Pro Bowl four times since first suiting up for the Pack. The next generation of Matthews relatives in the NFL include Clay III's younger brother, Casey, who is a linebacker playing for the Philadelphia Eagles.

Jake's older brother, Kevin, was an offensive lineman for Texas A&M. He was not drafted coming out of college in 2010, but suited up for Tennessee and Washington the last three seasons. Back on the Aggies' campus is Kevin and Jake's younger brother, Mike, a sophomore who started on the same line as Jake at center last season.

Matthews seriously considered joining TAMU left tackle Luke Joeckel in entering the 2013 NFL Draft, but later decided to return to school for his senior season. He would conclude his career by starting 46 consecutive games, but spent the final 13 contests replacing his former teammate at left tackle.

His 91.42% grade was the second-highest for any offensive lineman in the NCAA ranks during the 2013 regular season schedule, as he delivered 116 knockdowns, along with 22 touchdown-resulting blocks, including 16 for the rushing attack. His ability to protect the pocket allowed Johnny Manziel and crew to rank seventh in the nation with 4,593 aerial yards and fourth in the FBS with 6,999 total yards.

Jake Matthews

Texas A&M University Aggies

6:05.2-309

Body Structure

Matthews has good bone structure, with a thick midsection, wide hips, big back, good bubble, thick thighs and calves. He displays natural strength and has room on his frame to potentially add more bulk, as he can carry at least another 15-20 pounds without the added weight impacting his overall quickness. With his wide shoulders and chest width, he uses his natural power well to come off the line and generate movement. He displays some softness around his midsection, but has very good leg muscle development and plays flat-footed, thanks to his above average balance and flexibility.

Athletic Ability

Matthews has excellent athletic ability for an offensive lineman, as he runs with a normal stride and shows very good balance attacking and stalking second level defenders when called upon as a lead blocker past the line of scrimmage. He consistently shuffles his feet when engaging defenders in the trenches and has the flexibility to change direction without taking added steps. He displays very good balance staying up on his feet during his pass protection retreat and shows very quick hand usage in attempts to position, gain position and create separation (excels executing the scoop and cross blocks). He comes off the snap with good initial explosion and is quite nimble for a lineman, as he gets out on traps and pulls in a hurry, maintaining balance throughout his stride. He has the physical tools to be a productive starting left tackle at the next level, but could see quicker action with the first unit on the right side, a position he has considerable experience playing. Due to his quick feet to get into position to make the blocks on the edge, along with his above average balance, he also has the ability to perform capably as a pulling guard. He is an exceptional hand puncher (see 2013 Sam Houston State, SMU and UTEP games) with the arm quickness that rivals any other offensive lineman in the Southeastern Conference. He demonstrates good balance and agility for the position, along with the ability to out-muscle and wall off his man in isolated coverage. He is nimble working in space and does a good job of locating and neutralizing second level defenders. He is a natural knee bender who does a nice job of keeping his pads down due to his lateral agility and loose hips. With his arm strength, he is capable of pushing and controlling his man in the short area.

Football Sense

Matthews is a good student who doesn't need reps to retain. He shows very good field awareness for the position and the instincts to make proper adjustments on the move vs. different schemes. He is very alert on the field and excels at picking up stunts and games (see 2013 Mississippi, Vanderbilt and Duke games). With his ability to retain plays and know all of the position assignments up front, he could be a natural calling blocking assignments, if shifted to an inside position. In pass protection, he shows the alertness to pick up the edge rushers and is able to chip to the second level with ease. The only blemish I noticed is that most of his penalties came while operating on the right side, as he tended to lean more when firing off the snap. He showed much better balance during the 2013 season and this could lead to him remaining at left tackle during his professional career.

Competitiveness

One thing you quickly notice on film is his aggression, determined attitude and "won't quit until the whistle" approach to the game. Those that talk of playing through pain should use Matthews as a role model, as the tough competitor played throughout his first three seasons with a chronic left shoulder injury that he suffered as a sophomore wrestler in high school. He required surgery after the 2011 season, working diligently throughout the spring to make sure he was fully recovered by the start of his final season. Based on three touchdown-resulting blocks and a 98% grade for blocking consistency in the 2012 season opener vs. Towson, one can see that he is primed for a banner campaign. He is the consummate team player, who willingly plays wherever the coaching staff needs him the most. He prides himself on his solid effort, as he plays the game with great urgency.

Initial Quickness

Matthews has very good timed speed, as he was recently timed at 5.07 in the 40-yard dash. Because of his strong legs, balance and ability to stay low in his pads firing off the snap, he generates valid initial quickness to be sudden attacking lethargic defensive linemen, evident by his impressive initial burst, clocking 1.55 seconds in the 10-yard dash. He has tremendous hand quickness to lock on, steer out and control his man (see 2013 Rice, Arkansas and Mississippi games). He gets into his blocks with ease and is quick to gain advantage, showing the functional phone booth acceleration to gain position when working in-line. His body control and balance allows him to shock the defender coming off the ball and his lateral agility lets him maintain position working the corner, especially when called upon to deliver that crunching backside block at the opposite end of the field (see 2013 SMU and UTEP games). He is also adept at keeping his base when moving to the second level to cut off the linebackers.

Lateral Movement

Matthews has very good lateral quickness, especially when asked to get in front on traps and pulls, making some team feel he could be an ideal left offensive guard. He gets out of his stance with good pad level and hand punch to neutralize the wide defensive ends. The thing you see on film is his ability to adjust his feet on the move (see 2013 Sam Houston, Auburn and Vanderbilt games).

Balance/Stays On Feet

Matthews plays with good balance and a strong good base, doing a nice job of playing with a flat back and his pads down. It is very rare to see him get even a little off- balance with twists, as he will generally get good fits. He keeps his feet wide to seal off on the edge and is quick to recover when beaten. He is a good mauler who does a good job staying up and on his blocks, as he plays with leverage while keeping his feet under him. He has outstanding strength to lock up and is very good at sustaining his feet on the move. With his quick initial movement, even speedy edge rushers are amazed at his ability to retreat and mirror vs. them in pass protection. He consistently sustains his blocks and has impressive body control moving in-line (excels on scoop and cross blocks) and also the balance moving into the second level (bruising cut blocker).

Explosion/Pop

Since moving to left offensive tackle, Matthews has shown marked improvement with his hand punch, as he appears to be much more active shooting his hands there (likes to play on an island) than when confined to tight quarters as a right tackle (hands got outside his framework too much on the right side, as most of his penalties were from holding and came when playing on the right edge). He gets a quick initial surge to make contact and sustain and has developed into a very good short yardage blocker, staying low in his pads while driving with his legs to clear the rush lanes through the "B" gap. He also shows good pop on run blocks, as he not only demonstrates good lateral range, but also shows consistency opening his hips to stay on blocks longer. When he combines his hip and leg explosion with that punishing pop with his hand punch, defenders realize their battles with him will end in short order. The thing you see a lot on film is his combination of quickness and strength coming out of his stance to attack his blocking assignments, as he generates sudden force with his surge (see 2013 Rice, Arkansas and Mississippi State games).

Run Blocking

Matthews plays with excellent leverage, as he uses his upper-body strength well to get into the defender's jersey coming off the snap. He stays on feet with run blocks, play flat-footed with good balance and a low pad level to widen and sustain the rush lanes. When he brings his hips and strikes on contact, he is effective on screens, showing good finishing ability to wall off. He likes using his mauler's mentality to move out or latch on to defenders while using his solid upper body strength and hand placement to control. He is an above-average incline blocker, thanks to playing with a strong base, as he runs his feet well pushing the pile to maintain and widen the rush lanes. He has a good feel and understanding for angles attacking second level defenders (see 2013 SMU, Mississippi and Texas-El Paso games) and consistently plays the game on his feet. He is quick to gain position and sustain, thanks to his good foot movement and with his hand punch and long reach, he has no problem walling off and screening when residing on an island. Evidence of his dominance as a drive blocker is the fact that he provided the key block on 69.70% of the team's rushing scores (23 of 33) in 2013.

Pass Blocking

Matthews has the kick slide, balance and nimble feet to latch on and ride the edge rushers away from the pocket with good consistency. He takes good sets in pass protection and plays under control, keeping a wide base and his head on a swivel to pick up stunts. He has the ability to get in front to neutralize the wide edge rusher and the knee bend needed by a tackle when moving out to dominate in isolated coverage. He has a strong pass set up and the size to occupy space, but can also sit and anchor to shut down the bull rush. On the rare times that he does get a bit straight-legged, he manages to generate a good base and anchor to maintain position. He has impressive balance and footwork to slide, along with good knee bend and hip flexibility that he combines with a strong hand punch. With that powerful hand punch, he consistently gets good separation and with his ability to play at a low pad level, scouts are greatly impressed with his kick slide and mirror skills out on an island (see 2013 Sam Houston, Alabama, Auburn and Vanderbilt games).

Pulling/Trapping

Matthews shows good determination to gets out in front when pulling. He is light on his feet and can adjust on the move, showing the body control and balance to consistently defeat second-level defenders. He does a nice job of keeping his shoulders square when delivering base blocks and attacks the defender with a good, flat back. He takes good angles working in-line and when operating in the second level and is able to adjust with ease to a moving target. He shows a good reach in space and is quite effective keeping his feet in front of him on short traps (see 2013 SMU, Rice and Mississippi games). He has the athleticism teams look for in a tackle, as he consistently stays up and plays the game on his feet. He gets in front as a lead blocker with easy movement and has the quickness and hip snap to work his way down the line to deliver on scoop, scramble and slip blocks.

Adjust on Linebacker Downfield

Few linemen show the chip-and-land ability that Matthews possesses. When he gets into the second level, he quickly gains position to screen and wall off. He gets into space smoothly when blocking on screens and takes proper angles to obliterate linebackers that dare get into his path (see 2013 Arkansas, Mississippi and Missouri games). He also shows the agility to cut off and pick up his man while on the move. He maintains the low pad level needed to cut off the blitz on the corners and keeps his balance on the move to make adjustments when the second level defenders try to elude him.

Use of Hands/Punch

Matthews shows consistency using his long arms to gain leverage, as he always seems to be able to lock on with his hands when making reach blocks. He places his hands well, doing a nice job of leaning into his man to steer the opponent wide. He needs to be more active with his hands when playing on the right side (tends to get his hands out of his frame more often there than when playing left tackle), but that appears to happen mostly when he is in tight quarters. He shows a violent punch, using his upper body strength well to control. With those "big mitts," (10 3/8-inch hands) Matthews can easily lock on and steer his man out on running plays. He generates above average hand positioning and is very quick to replace them in pass protection. He uses those hands like weapons, as he has more than enough strength to consistently get separation.

Reactions/Awareness

When isolated on the corner, Matthews demonstrates his alertness and lateral agility to get out and neutralize the edge rush (see 2013 Arkansas, Auburn and Missouri games). He has very good awareness and vision to neutralize twists and is efficient coming off initial blocks to locate a secondary target. He knows how to use his size and upper-body power to widen the rush lanes and is very conscious of working in unison with his guards and tight ends to prevent back side pressure on the pocket. He also does a nice job when he sits and recovers inside. He can easily move his feet and slide to movement, as he has the loose hips to smoothly change direction.

Compares To

JORDAN GROSS-ex-Carolina: Like Gross, Matthews is a well-regarded, functionally sound technician with experience at both tackle positions, but I feel he is better suited taking on edge rushers from the left side, as he has the balance, foot movement and hand punch to mirror and neutralize. Matthews has lots of field savvy and his trap blocking skills are solid enough to possibly move him inside to guard earlier in his career while his body grows and matures. He has that nimble kick slide teams want from a left tackle, and he also works well in unison with his guards and tight ends to seal off the back side charge.

Matthews is blessed with good balance, body control, intelligence and leg drive. He is the type that puts forth the extra hours in the weight room to increase his upper body strength and in the film room preparing for opponents. He can play any position on the offensive line, but with his ability to neutralize edge rushers, he is a natural fit at his present left offensive tackle position.

With his lateral range and hand quickness, he also has the potential to be a quality guard, if a team wants to utilize his in-line blocking skills. He has good frame growth potential and plays with enough short area burst to gain leverage and movement. He rolls his hips on contact and has the ability to cave the line of scrimmage.

Matthews consistently finishes his blocks for the running game and with his ability to widen the rush lanes and neutralize defenders in the second level, he is also perfectly capable of playing offensive guard. He is quick to gain position in the second level and is outstanding working the short pull. He might get a bit straight-legged, at times, but he recovers nicely.

It is rare to see him have problems with twists, as he can recoil and recover with ease. He will not over-extend or slip off blocks and does a nice job of playing flat-footed. He shows sudden quickness off the ball and the hip snap needed to get in front on blocks. When working in-line, he is good at keeping his feet on contact and gets movement on level-one defenders.

Matthews also shows good quickness with reach blocks (does a good job of getting his head in front on reach blocks to seal off the corner) and gets valid leverage to cut off the edge. He pulls and traps with his feet flat-footed and is very quick to get out of his stance.

In pass protection, he is quick to set up coming off the ball and has good arm extension to keep the defensive end off his body. He shows nice leg strength to anchor and hold his ground at the point of attack. He is also a consistent finisher with run and pass blocks and with his versatility and knowledge of all offensive line position assignments, he could contribute immediately at the next level.


Dave-Te' Thomas has more than 40 years of experience scouting for the NFL. With the NFL Draft Report, Thomas handles a staff that evaluates and tests college players before the draft and prepares the NFL's official Draft Packet, which is distributed to all 32 teams prior to the draft. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.

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