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With No. 6, Falcons Should Target Matthews - By Vaughn Mcclure


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Monday afternoon, Atlanta Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff will address the media for the first time this season and offer his thoughts on how his team imploded during a 4-12 campaign.

Questions will arise about which direction Dimitroff might lean with the No. 6 overall pick in the 2014 NFL draft. He'll likely dance around any specifics.

But after watching quarterback Matt Ryan get pummeled all day Sunday against the Carolina Panthers – and all season, for that matter – Dimitroff surely understands how badly the Falcons need to shore up the offensive line.

2014 NFL draft

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Check the current draft order through the end of the regular season.

Draft Order

Of course, so much depends on what type of moves are made in free agency, which begins March 8. But the Falcons need to be thinking offensive line with their first-round pick. Specifically, Texas A&M offensive tackle Jake Matthews.

No, Lamar Holmes is not the left tackle of the future, as the Falcons had hoped. And although Sam Baker had a solid 2012 campaign and was signed to a six-year, $41 million contract, there is no guarantee Baker will be the same coming off knee surgery.

With some of the teams in front of them, such as Houston (No. 1 overall pick), Jacksonville (No. 3), Cleveland (No. 4), and Oakland (No. 5) needing quarterbacks, and defensive end Jadeveon Clowney unlikely to drop out of the top 5, Matthews could be available for the Falcons. He would be an instant upgrade over any player the Falcons could line up to protect Ryan right now.

I recently talked to ESPN draft expert Todd McShay about Matthews, and here's what McShay had to say: "He's one of those coveted offensive linemen. First off, you look at his frame at 6-foot-5, 300-pounds. He's got experience. He's got that versatility, having started 26 straight games at right tackle then moving the left tackle. Moving from left to right is not an easy thing to do. He's got no baggage. He eats, drinks and sleeps football. He's proven himself. Matthews has that quickness while remaining balanced and powerful. He has good athletic ability and mobility. Plus he's scheme versatile. If you're asking me whether he could fit with the Falcons -- and I'm not sure about their cap situation and all that -- but he definitely would be upgrade over Sam Baker."

In 2010, the Seattle Seahawks took offensive tackle Russell Okung with the No. 6 overall pick and Okung went on to make the Pro Bowl in 2011. The Falcons would be fortunate to have the same success.

Now, there's always a chance Matthews could be scooped up before the Falcons pick. Plus, the other wild card is how the Falcons plan to address their need for a pass-rusher.

In terms of the later, Dimitroff and company need to take a long look at free-agent pass-rushers, if money is no issue. Two players the Falcons faced at the end of the season – Brian Orakpo of the Redskins and Greg Hardy of the Panthers – are set to become free agents.

I asked Hardy after Sunday's game about his future. And he told me he'd be willing to go anywhere he'd get paid.

Surely the Falcons would rather have him on their side then face him, the way he tossed around Ryan.

We'll just have to wait and see how this all plays out.

Thoughts?

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I completely disagree, for a lot of reasons. But the biggest is simple -- while the o-line is the biggest single hole on the field, that's the same reason you don't want to try to fix it through the draft. If that were the ONLY hole on the field, I'd say "get a FA lineman, then draft heavy," but it's not. We need a ton of help on the d-line as well, especially with all our DTs being FAs. I think we need a veteran presence on that o-line, and we need an immediate impact. We need to spend some serious cash in FA on a couple of good o-linemen who can come in and transform that unit.

Then we need to draft d-line up one side and down the other, with some LBs thrown in for good measure.

Granted, adding Greg Hardy would help the d-line a lot, but we already have that veteran presence on d-line in Osi. What we need there is inside help, and a lot of it, and a couple of pass rush options. Honestly, interior pressure will do more for the pass rush than anything, since it will help stop those ridiculous 30-40 yard runs we give up twice a game, and it will tie up blockers to allow our LBs and other blitzers to actually get to the passer.

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had sam baker been the only weak link on the team id say lets do it..... because the whole OLine needs to get axd and the Dline is trash , not to mention the LBers situation and FS,,,,,,, just puts me in a state of depression... i was truly excited about the 2013 season..... i dont think id be excited about the 2014 season if we take Mathews

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I could not agree more with the article. We need to take advantage of the opportunity to draft a franchise OT. Both Matthews and Erving look like great prospects. And, with a little luck, Auburn's Robinson might declare and give TD three great OT's to choose from.

We also need to sign a good vet RG. After that, I would concentrate on signing a big NT for the middle. Once those needs are addressed, the rest will be icing.

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Russell Okung and all his injuries represent a scary analogy.

I take it McClure suggests eating Baker's deal.

I think that Baker should be kept on the roster for at least one more season. The scariest thought would be facing another season with the often-injured Baker and Holmes to protect Ryan's back side.

The OL will require a lot of work this off season. I think that drafting a franchise OT would be a good first move.

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Matthews would be a good pick for the future, he would come in and more than likely play RT, and move over to LT once Baker is injured. While not a bad move it's not the type of impact this team needs, we need the pick to impact the D, he talks about Orakpo and Hardy(I don't want hardy here) to improve our Dline but like many many people fail to point out our huge gaping hole at DT(where we should invest money on) I would much rather throw money towards a Lamar Houston and Linval Joseph rather than go after Hardy who wants to get paid, Orakpo wouldn't be a bad signing as he has shown to be more consistent than hardy but has been prone to injury. With that being said I believe our first pick must be on the Dline. Wether that's targeting Cloweny (if he slips) or Mack at our pick. Or looking to trade down and maybe draft Hageman or Louis Nix.

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Guest fibonacci

I could not agree more with the article. We need to take advantage of the opportunity to draft a franchise OT. Both Matthews and Erving look like great prospects. And, with a little luck, Auburn's Robinson might declare and give TD three great OT's to choose from.

We also need to sign a good vet RG. After that, I would concentrate on signing a big NT for the middle. Once those needs are addressed, the rest will be icing.

i almost gave you a plus one. But i disagree with what you are saying about a rb.
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I'd draft Matthews and then either draft a guard in round 2 or sign a free agent at the RG spot. We have veteran experience on the line in Blalock, Hawley and Baker. What we don't have is enough talent. Matthews has that and then some. Baker can and has played RT, I'd move him there for now.

D-line and pressure issues, I think are more a result of the d-line coach. I'd look at Daniel McCullers in the 3rd for DT

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This article is written by the same guy who said Nolan would be fired. He is just another ESPN analyst who doesn't know jack. That being said, we need a DT more than a LT. We need a RG and a RT more than a LT. DT is a better position to draft in the top of the first round if the right guy is there. I would spend the 2nd and 3rd on a G/RT, then add depth with the rest of the draft. Maybe bring in either a RG/RT in FA along with another DE. But knowing TD we will grab a TE at 6, and the board will justifiably have a meltdown.

Edited by Return of the Gaucho
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This article is written by the same guy who said Nolan would be fired. He is just another ESPN analyst who doesn't know jack. That being said, we need a DT more than a LT. We need a RG and a RT more than a LT. DT is a better position to draft in the top of the first round if the right guy is there. I would spend the 2nd and 3rd on a G/RT, then add depth with the rest of the draft. Maybe bring in either a RG/RT in FA along with another DE. But knowing TD we will grab a TE at 6, and the board will justifiably have a meltdown.

great post and I agree.
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I'd draft Matthews and then either draft a guard in round 2 or sign a free agent at the RG spot. We have veteran experience on the line in Blalock, Hawley and Baker. What we don't have is enough talent. Matthews has that and then some. Baker can and has played RT, I'd move him there for now.

D-line and pressure issues, I think are more a result of the d-line coach. I'd look at Daniel McCullers in the 3rd for DT

I can see it going one of two ways, draft oline heavy or mix and match. If we do go oline with the first pick, I think it will say a lot about this staff and how they feel about Baker. I do believe no matter what we need to go RG in the 2nd and with the 3rd we could go DT or DE(Michael Sam,Deandre Coleman, Daniel McCullers). The 4th should be addressed with a RT(Morgan Moses,JuWaan James) so basically it can go:

1.DE 2.RG 3.DT 4.RT 5.RB 6.DT 7.TE or

1.LT 2.RG 3.DE 4.RT 5.RB 6.DT 7.TE

Option one would basically be the case if we signed a RT in FA like a Schwartz or Saffold. And going after Mack(prob unrealistic)

Option two would be more likely if we went after an Orakpo or Johnson.

Both scenarios must include signing 2 stout DTs(Joseph,Houston,Jones,Cody,Raji,Soliai,Dareus)

Option 1 oline( LT-Baker LG-Blalock C-Mack RG-Draft RT- Schwartz)

Option 1 Dline(RDE-Mack DTs- Houston and Joseph LDE- Mass)

Option 2 Oline(LT-Matthews LG-Blalock C-Konz RG-Draft RT- Baker)

Option 2 Dline(RDE Orakpo DTs- Houston and Joseph LDE-Mass)

I kinda would like Option 2 better for the Lines specially if we manage to sign a Mack but that be highly unlikely if we added Orakpo. So I would side more with Option 1.

It'll basically come down to if we sign Orakpo or Mack in FA I believe.

Edited by Falkonator
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After posting this topic I also thought about the way TD might do it.

FA is going to show us the path we will take into the draft, but as for right now I see us taking a OT/OG in FA and going young in the draft.

as of right now I believe the only pick that is 99% clear to be in the Draft will be a RG in round 2. With 3 studs in Gabe Jackson, David Yankey and Cyril Richardson expected to be available when we pick. That has to be a no brainer.
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