Our NFL Nation crew completed its mock draft on Tuesday.
When it came to my pick for the Atlanta Falcons, top offensive tackles Jake Matthews from Texas A&M and Taylor Lewan from Michigan were still on the board. So I went with Matthews, because I firmly believe the Falcons will remain at No. 6 and address their protection issues rather than trade up for a pass-rusher.
If things unfold as we projected, Matthews would be a safe pick for a team emphasizing the need to get stronger and tougher up front. When I think of what Matthews could bring to the Falcons, I keep going back to something Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff told me back in January at the Senior Bowl when I asked him about Matthews.
"Think about it: He is a such a technique-sound individual,'' Dimitroff said of Matthews. "He has such an understanding of the game, being from a historic NFL football family [son of Hall of Fame lineman Bruce Matthews]. He’s just so well-rounded in so many ways on and off the field that he’s going to be a guy who is going to turn a lot of heads. A guy like that has the potential to go No. 1 in this draft, if he turns the right heads."
If Dimitroff believed then that Matthews had the potential to go No. 1, why wouldn't the Falcons pick him if he's still available at No. 6?
We wrote a little more detail about Matthews the other day from the eyes of his offensive line coach at Texas A&M.
The one thing that could throw things off during Thursday night's actual draft is if all three of the top offensive tackles -- Auburn's Greg Robinson, Matthews and Lewan -- are off the board by the time the Falcons pick at No. 6. Robinson has been projected to go No. 2 to the St. Louis Rams, while there was a report of the Oakland Raiders having a strong interest in Lewan at No.5. And you just never know what the lowly Cleveland Browns will do at No. 4, and reports have surfaced that they won't take quarterback Johnny Manziel, as anticipated.
If all three tackles are gone, I could see the Falcons trading down and maybe looking at Notre Dame's Zack Martin as the fourth offensive tackle on the board.
We'll talk more about the pick of Matthews in the NFL Nation mock draft Wednesday morning on SportsCenter at 10 a.m. ET.