BBD Editor: Dan Hope
When Jake Matthews announced in January he would return to Texas A&M for his senior season, it seemed like a smart move for his draft stock. When teammate Luke Joeckel declared for the 2013 NFL draft, it opened up an opportunity for Matthews to play the offensive line’s premier position, left tackle, and improve his draft stock with a great senior year.
One has to wonder if Matthews regrets his decision after seeing how the 2013 NFL draft played out.
Traditionally, the left tackle position has been viewed as a much more valuable position than right tackle. That school of thinking has been challenged recently, however, with more elite pass-rushers including Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt and Denver Broncos outside linebacker Von Miller lining up over the right tackle.
The 2013 draft made a clear statement that teams are now putting high value in both offensive tackle positions. Four offensive tackles were drafted in the top 11 picks, including the Nos. 1, 2 and 4 overall selections. Each of them is projected to play right tackle as a rookie and potentially in future seasons.
If Jake Matthews has a strong senior season, he should be viewed as an elite prospect as both a left and right tackle, and will only help his stock for the 2014 NFL draft. That said, there is reason to believe he may have unknowingly passed up a shot to be the No. 1 or 2 overall pick in 2013.
While the Kansas City Chiefs and Jacksonville Jaguars both got fantastic offensive tackle prospects in Eric Fisher and Joeckel, both players will be making the transition from left to right tackle for at least their rookie season. Some believe the Chiefs drafted Fisher over Joeckel because they viewed him as a better fit to play right tackle.
Matthews has been a dominant right tackle at Texas A&M for three seasons, and has the skill set to immediately be one of the NFL’s best at that position. Yet although he has not played left tackle for the Aggies, he may also end up being a better left tackle prospect than either of them this year.
In hindsight, Matthews looks as though he would have been the best selection for either team, as the best right tackle in the draft with the potential to develop into one of the NFL’s elite tackles on either side of the line.
Of course, that ship has sailed. Matthews now must focus on making his case to go No. 1 overall in 2014 — and hope offensive tackles are once again in high demand at the top of the draft.
Why Jake Matthews Is A Potential No. 1 Overall Pick
Matthews is an outstanding pass-protector with prototypical size and athleticism for an NFL offensive tackle.
Matthews has long arms and is listed at 6’5” and 305 pounds. He uses his length well and supplements it with strength. He has very good reach, and when he is able to lock his arms onto an opponent, he holds his ground very well and rarely gets driven back.
Footwork is a big strength of Matthews’ game. He has very quick feet and natural movement skills. He is very good at moving laterally and has a fluid kick-slide.