The 2014 NFL Draft is now just days away, and the final pick-by-pick mock draft has begun. Different from my previous mock drafts, I won’t be projecting who I would take, but who I actually think will be selected with the pick. Again I won’t be including trade possibilities simply because they’re limitless and totally unpredictable.
Quick recap: the Houston Texans took Jadeveon Clowney (DE, South Carolina) first, the St. Louis Rams took Sammy Watkins (WR, Clemson) second, the Jacksonville Jaguars took Greg Robinson (OT, Auburn) third, the Cleveland Browns picked Johnny Manziel (QB, Texas A&M) fourth and the Oakland Raiders took Khalil Mack (OLB, Buffalo) fifth. Who do the Atlanta Falcons take at no. 6?
Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M.
Yes the fans are clamoring for more of a pass rush, but with Clowney and Mack off the board, no other pass rusher is worthy of the number six pick. Plus, you could very easily make the case that OT is an even bigger need than a new pass rusher. Between the combination of Jonathan Massaquoi, Osi Umenyiora, Kroy Biermann and someone like Kyle Van Noy (OLB, BYU) at the top of the second round, there should be enough of a pass rush generated to the point where it’s not a total team weakness.
The same cannot be said at OT, where dire days are upon the dirty birds. LT Sam Baker, barely a year into a six-year, $41 million dollar contract extension, is coming off major knee surgery, and even if he wasn’t, he was a human turnstile last year. Lamar Holmes was just as bad filling in for Baker, and Mike Johnson and Ryan Schraeder are career backups at best.
$113 million dollar QB Matt Ryan was sacked 44 times last year (third most in the NFL) and the team was dead last in rushing yards per game. Is a pass rusher really whats holding this team back from the Lombardi Trophy? GM Thomas Dimitroff is a smart man and he’ll address the true problem area on the team with Matthews.
Matthews is as pro-ready as any offensive player in the draft this year, and projects very well to both left and right sides at the NFL level. He’s of the famed Matthews dynasty and has the bloodlines of a triple crown winner. No off the field problems, is a leader on and off the field, is strong in the ground game, rock solid in pass pro, etc. I mean there’s just very, very few things not to like about Matthews.
He doesn’t have the athleticism of Robinson or Taylor Lewan (OT, Michigan), but his floor is much higher. The risk of Matthews being a bust is as small as anyone in the draft, so this is a very smart pick for the Falcons.
Who else will be considered here? Lewan. It’s OT or DE/OLB for Atlanta in the first round, and if both the top pass rushers are off the board, it’s a no brainer to take the top OT.