Jake Matthews spent two years at right tackle at Texas A&M while Luke Joeckel manned the blind side, giving the Aggies as good a set of bookend tackles as any in college football and more talented than a few teams in the NFL. With Joeckel now a member of the Jacksonville Jaguars, Matthews has moved over to the left tackle spot, a position he is expected to play when he goes into the NFL.
In addition to getting experience at left tackle, Matthews came back to College Station in hopes of winning a National Championship. The son of Hall of Fame offensive lineman, Bruce Matthews, Jake has all the tools to be an elite offensive tackle and has there was a great chance he might go as high as 7th pick last year and he is likely to be a top 10 pick this year with a good possibility of being the first tackle off the board.
Vitals & Build
Matthews is listed at 6’5” 305lbs with good length and mobility for the position. He shows good functional strength, balance and body control. Matthews appears to have the frame continue adding weight and the goal will be to continue adding strength and probably getting closer to 310-315lbs to help make him a better anchor.
Matthews is extremely light on his feet and can get anywhere on the field the Aggies need him. He shows a great motor and does not seem to wear down as the game moves along so even in a high tempo offense, he maintains an extremely high level of play. While he might not set a record for the 40 yard dash, it would be surprising if he did not have an extremely impressive time and shows great explosion in the 10 and 20 yard area.
Matthews is not an overpowering force as a run blocker but he is an effective one. His power largely comes from his ability to generate momentum quickly because of his athletic ability. He can create space for the running game, but is not a bulldozing type lineman.
Matthews is more effective when it comes to shielding opponents from the ball carrier and using effective angles to cut them off from getting into the play.
The Aggies also have him use attacking defenders’ momentum against them and has him let them slip by and more or less finish them and try to get a second block. He has the ability to get to the second level, though his experience is limited there. They will have him wrap and go from left tackle to leading the run play on the right side, which is a nice option to have.
Matthews is an exceptional pass blocker because he has such great feet and balance. He never is in a position where he needs to overextend or reach. Matthews always looks comfortable and ready to block, whether against the best speed rushers, power rushers or opponents who convert speed to power. He might get overpowered at times and give up a little bit of ground, but he is able to recover and re-anchor and hold his ground. Matthews does not get off balance or end up in a bad position. He will not win every time but he does not lose because he is in a bad position.
Matthews has pretty good hand use and placement but this is probably the area that can hurt him the most. When he is wrong on where he puts his hands, opponents can work to get past him and beat him, usually underneath, which gives them a direct line to the quarterback.
Matthews tends to hold off on punching opponents and react to what they are doing. As a result, he can take a powerful hit and get knocked backward, but he is usually able to recover. He is not someone who gets caught by surprise on the initial move but an effective punch on an opponent at the right time can make life a lot easier, especially with so many opponents who are so strong and can generate power in a short area.
This is where Matthews is pretty exceptional. He has terrific feet and has good, short steps so he is not caught by surprise or off balance. Matthews is able to get in position and slide while making it look pretty effortless. So often, it seems like Matthews wins right off the snap as pass rushers get frustrated with how quickly he can move and get set up to block them and they can hesitate and try to wait to come up with a way to attack them, which definitely works to his advantage. Matthews is easily able to power step in and cut off opponents trying to cut underneath him and close the hole.
When it comes to run blocking, Matthews is able to move extremely quickly. The fact that A&M is comfortable using him on wraps shows just how quickly he can move and how much he can offer a team running the football. He is athletic enough to get in front of the ball carrier and be a lead blocker and while A&M typically has him go alone, a team could opt to send him and the left guard on a pull to get out in front of the running play with the center blocking back. Matthews does not have a ton of opportunities to go to the second level but he is certainly athletic enough to do, but needs to be more comfortable working in space to land blocks. This should be an issue fixed with experience, but with his ability to allow rushers attacking way up field, he can send them by and work to get in on another block.
The only scheme that might not love Matthews is a power scheme, but most any team will look past that in order to land a left tackle, so any team who wants a left tackle would want Matthews.
Matthews’ game is similar to that of Joe Thomas of the Cleveland Browns. The former Badger came out as an elite pass protector with the same exceptional feet as Matthews who had the ability to be a run blocker but needed to take it from good to great. For the most part, that is where Matthews is now but he needs to iron out some small details so he can get to Thomas’s level in the NFL.
It is hard to see a scenario where Matthews does not end up going in the top 10 of the NFL Draft. Matthews is not perfect, but he has so much potential when it comes to his feet and what he can be as a technical blocker that can go from a good run blocker to a great run blocker, he is going to wow quite a few teams. He looks like someone who can step in and start right away and will only get better with experience and more physical development. Combining that with the competition he has played against and had success against, his genetics and everything else, Matthews seems like a great bet to be the first tackle off the board.
Some of the film used in this scouting breakdown was provided by the good folks at draftbreakdown.com