Atlanta Falcons Should Go After Offensive Linemen Early in 2014 NFL Draft

By Sarah Woodall
Jake Matthews
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

At 2-7, it is pretty safe to say the Atlanta Falcons‘ season is officially over. Injuries have mounted too high, their flaws are all too obvious, and their division rivals are running away with the NFC South.  A Super Bowl berth is also ridiculous to even consider, so GM Thomas Dimitroff and the front office now have to look to re-build this team once again, brick by brick. Many fans have been jumping on the Jadeveon Clowney bandwagon lately and demanding the Falcons tank their season  to compete for the No. 1 pick. But the way things have been going, with quarterback Matt Ryan throwing 10 interceptions and the running game continuing to be non-existent even after Steven Jackson‘s return, it is pretty obvious the major area of focus should be the offensive line for the upcoming NFL draft.

Atlanta currently ranks 32nd in the running category, only averaging 3.5 yards per carry and 64.3 yards per game.  Even though they currently are 6th through the air,  Ryan has been struggling as of late in the pocket, forcing throws that are clearly not there and making uncharacteristic mistakes with either bad footwork or thrown picks. When fingers are pointed it usually is directed at the quarterback, and in some instances it should be after Ryan’s costly turnovers. But the real blame should be placed on this crumbling offensive line. Ryan always takes responsibility for his mistakes, but he’s never going to bring to light his frustrations of never having time to throw the ball. The past three games were a testament to that. Lately,  It has just been gut wrenching to watch Jackson constantly being stuffed in the backfield and witness Ryan’s pocket collapsing almost immediately. Also in the last three games Ryan has been sacked seven times.

Yes, Atlanta’s holes are also on defense, but the real strength of this team is the offense. Ryan is clearly the biggest piece to this offensive scheme, so this organization needs to place players up front that will provide the right amount of protection for their $100 million man and get this running game back on track.

Their main focus should be offensive tackle Jake Matthews from Texas A&M. This 6-foot-5 305-pound lineman and a definite top-10 pick is one to keep a sharp eye on. This guy has a history of protecting talented quarterbacks like Johnny Manziel and Ryan Tannehill and has done a great job creating holes for the ground game in the past as well. Matthews would be the perfect guy to build this O-line around and a pick that would not go wasted in the upcoming draft.

If the draft were held today, the Falcons would get the third overall pick with their current record. And since their remaining schedule is not walk in the park either that third pick could still very well be in their future.

Sarah Woodall is an Atlanta Falcons writer for Follow her on Twitter @SarahWoodallRS, or add her to your network on Google.

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