Father’s Day: 2014 NFL Draft Prospects Following in Footsteps of NFL Dads

Jake Matthews is well on his way to becoming the seventh member of the Matthews family to play in the NFL. (Photo: USA Today Sports Images)

BBD Staff Writer: Joseph Curtis

Football is often passed down from father to son. The game can be a father-son bonding ritual, from watching games on Saturdays and Sundays to going out on the field and playing the game.

Football fans recall football families with numerous father-son duos such as the Mannings and the Matthews family. Through week five of the 2012 season, 197 sets of father-sons had played professional football, according to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Last season, the Bills featured two sons of former NFL players, Jairus Byrd and Lee Smith.

Byrd’s father, Gill, played defensive back for 10 NFL seasons and is part of the San Diego Chargers Hall of Fame. Gill and Jairus are one of only six active father-son duos to each make a Pro Bowl.

Smith’s father, the late Daryle Smith, played offensive tackle for the Cowboys, Cleveland Browns and Philadelphia Eagles during six seasons.

Every NFL Draft seems to be filled with familiar names which showcase the history and bloodlines of the league. The 2014 NFL Draft should be filled with familiar football names from their fathers’ NFL pasts.

Bruce and Jake Matthews

The Matthews family is arguably the first family of football. From Clay Matthews, Sr. to his sons Clay, Jr. and Bruce to each of their sons, six members of the Matthews clan have played in the NFL beginning more than six decades ago.

They should prepare to add another following the 2014 draft. Jake, a senior offensive tackle at Texas A&M, may be the best NFL prospect of any of the third-generation Matthewses.

ESPN’s Mel Kiper and Todd McShay both rated Matthews as their sixth-best prospect and top senior offensive lineman on their initial 2014 NFL Draft boards.

Matthews possesses outstanding technique that can be greatly attributed to his father, Hall of Fame offensive lineman Bruce.

When Jake started playing high school football, he played quarterback, but grew larger and was asked to move to the offensive line. Bruce was there to help him make the move.

“I think I learned the blocking scheme in two nights,” Matthews told InsideTexas.com in 2009. “My dad just showed it to me. I just kept reviewing with him and I didn’t have any trouble catching up because I just kept growing and I eventually caught up with everyone else.”

Bruce’s help didn’t stop once Jake left for college and he continued to help his son get better.

“I talk to my dad almost every day,” Matthews told the Houston Chronicle in 2010. “He’ll watch my film, and I get a lot of help from him.”

Time will tell whether or not Jake will be as good of a pro player as his father, but the pressure doesn’t weigh on him.

“I respect everything my dad has done,” Matthews told AggieSports.com in 2011. “He is my favorite player ever. He’s my dad and I love him to death, but I’m trying to go out there and be my own player and make a name for myself so I just have to keep working hard and keep it going.”

A likely top-10 pick, Jake will have his chance to add his name to the Matthews lore soon enough.

Jim and Jackson Jeffcoat

Jim Jeffcoat wanted his son to blaze his own trail from the very start.

“My philosophy was I wanted him to find his passion for the game like I had a passion,” Jim Jeffcoat told the Austin American-Statesman in 2010. “I didn’t want to push it on him. I didn’t want to be one of those stage parents.”

As a young defensive end, Jackson Jeffcoat wanted to be like his father.

Who could blame Jackson? His father, Jim, amassed 102.5 sacks and won two Super Bowls with the Dallas Cowboys during his 15-year NFL career.

Still, Jackson believes his father’s hands-off approach helped him develop into the player he is as a senior defensive end at Texas.

“He didn’t want to put a lot of pressure on me,” Jackson Jeffcoat told ESPN in 2009. “He wanted this process to be real natural, so he didn’t tell me a lot of stuff when I was young. We both have the same desire to be the best, and by listening to him I have become a better player.”

Jim even withheld his old game films from Jackson until his senior year of high school.

“He kind of kept those away from me,” Jackson Jeffcoat told the American-Statesman. “He didn’t want me to try and do every move he did. He didn’t want me to think too much about that.”

Jackson flashes top-notch athletic ability to wreak havoc off the edge, but he is far from a finished athlete.

Jim’s critique of his son’s abilities during high school still reigns true.

“He needs to keep working to improve his first-step quickness,” Jim Jeffcoat told USA Today in 2009. “He has to continue to understand angles and leverage, especially with him being on the defensive side.”

If Jackson can stay healthy in his senior year and show the explosiveness he is more than capable of, he should be a first-round selection. From there, it’s all up to him whether he can be like his father.

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Tags: 2014 NFL Draft, Anthony Barr, Bryn Renner, Chrisitan Jones, Devon Kennard, Ed Reynolds, Father's Day, George Atkinson III, Jackson Jeffcoat, Jake Matthews, James Wilder, Tevin McDonald, Will Sutton

One Response to “Father’s Day: 2014 NFL Draft Prospects Following in Footsteps of NFL Dads”

  1. Ryan Talbot says:

    Wish Buffalo had Jim Jeffcoat when he was in his prime. He was still a contributor in his time with the Bills, but he had quite the career in Dallas.

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