Jake Matthews was chiefly responsible last year for keeping Johnny Manziel upright. After off-the-charts success in that category, the Texas A&M left tackle was taken with the sixth pick in Thursday’s NFL draft, meaning he’ll now be responsible for protecting Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan.
Here’s what you need to know about Matthews:
1. He Was an All-American at Texas A&M
Matthews broke into the Aggies’ starting lineup as a true freshman in 2010 and never gave up a starting spot, starting at right tackle in 2011 and 2012 before moving to left tackle in 2013. He was a key piece of A&M’s high-powered offense and a key contributor to Manziel’s eye-opening success the past two seasons.
USA Today and the Football Writers Association both named Matthews a first-team All-American. He was also a two-time All-SEC selection.
2. He Comes From an Awesome Football Family
There aren’t many families in history that have produced more NFL talent than the Matthewses. Jake’s father, Bruce Matthews, was a Hall of Fame guard for the Houston Oilers and Tennessee Titans.
Jake’s grandfather, Clay Matthews Sr., was an offensive lineman for the 49ers His uncle, Clay Matthews Jr., played 19 NFL seasons; and his cousins, Clay Matthews, III and Casey Matthews, are linebackers for the Packers and Eagles, respectively.
3. He Was a Consensus Top 10 Pick
Matthews’ draft stock has been high from the get-go, with virtually every expert picking him to go in the first half of the first round, and most mock drafts pegging him as a top 10 pick.
In a mock draft published Monday (subscription required), ESPN’s Todd McShay picked Matthews to go to the Atlanta Falcons with the sixth overall pick. NFL.com’s Charles Davis has Matthews slipping to pick Number 12, where he’d land with the New York Giants and be part of the crew blocking for Eli Manning.
One of the questions facing teams was whether Matthews or Auburn’s Greg Robinson should be the first tackle picked. (Robinson went four spots before Matthews, to the St. Louis Rams, who took him second.)
Watch the video above from NFL.com for a breakdown of Matthews and Robinson.
4. He Considered Going Pro After His Junior Year
Matthews’ stock was high enough following his All-SEC selection in 2012 that he considered skipping his senior season and entering the draft. He opted instead to return to College Station for another year — a decision he said on the Texas A&M Football show last fall that he didn’t regret.
Watch the video above to hear Matthews talk about his decision.
5. He Was Awarded the ‘President’s Award’ at Texas A&M
Matthews, who graduated last December with a 3.2 GPA from the university’s Mays School of Business, was the 2014 recipient of the President’s Award, which honors an athlete for contributions in athletics and academics.
Watch the video above, narrated by A&M coach Kevin Sumlin, for a recap of Matthews’ accomplishments.
He was also a finalist for the 2013 Senior Class Award, which awards a senior for academic success, community service, overall character and athletic success. (Penn State guard John Urschel won the award.)