Futures: Texas A&M OT Jake Matthews
By Matt Waldman
I heard a great story about Lawrence Taylor this week from my friend Sigmund Bloom. Thanks to NFL Films, the Hall of Fame linebacker and “trash talk” go together like K-Tel and “greatest hits” – complete with a low-budget, late-night commercial featuring a scrolling list of titles for your listening pleasure:
“Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, stick – you mine. You mine, baby!”
“C’mon baby, you can’t pussy-foot it up in there, you gotta run it.”
“Homeboy, you can’t play that stuff in here; you’re gonna have to go outside.”
“Let’s go out there like a bunch of crazed dogs and have some fun!”
“Son, you gotta do better than this…”
Remember, this is Lawrence Taylor/K-Tel. If you want to pay good money for trash talk, order from the Shannon Sharpe Smack Soundtrack. At the end of the day, the talk means little if a player can’t walk it, and Taylor could walk it in his sleep. Well, with the exception of the week a rookie tackle let Taylor tie himself into a mental knot.
It was early in the game. Taylor stood opposite the rookie tackle, wasting no time dishing it to the offensive lineman.
“Rookie, I’m going to beat you to the left,” drawls Taylor, standing over what he had to think was fresh fish. Without missing a beat, the tackle shot back with a question.
Taylor, caught off-guard by the serious tone and the nature of the question, paused for a split-second –- just long enough to think about it -– as the center snapped the ball. That hesitation was all it took for the first-year tackle to dispatch of Taylor on the play. Sure, Taylor probably got the best of this rookie several times in that game, but the interaction underscores the point that offensive linemen are often some of the most intelligent players on the field.
One of the best of these quick-thinking, quick-footed behemoths in college football today is Texas A&M tackle Jake Matthews. Yes, he’s from the Matthews family that includes Grandpa Clay Sr., Uncle Clay Jr., Father Bruce, and Cousin Clay III. We’re talking over 50 years of NFL experience -– 18 of them Pro Bowl seasons. It’s like a functional, football version of the Jacksons –- down to Casey Matthews as its LaToya.
Jokes aside, the fact that Casey even earned an NFL opportunity speaks to the talent of a football family whose best musical parallel is the Marsalis clan. If there’s a compelling argument for teams to mention “bloodlines” when filing a scouting report, the Matthews and Long families would be Exhibits A and B of a lengthier list of NFL bloodlines than you may imagine.
It may seem like an imposing standard for Jake Matthews to follow his father Bruce in to the NFL –- and it’s probably something we’ll never learn until his career is over –- but examining the Aggie lineman’s potential solely on the basis of physical talent, technical skill, and conceptual acumen for the game, the younger
Matthews has a strong shot of doing something his dad did 30 years ago: earning a top-10 selection in the NFL Draft.
Although Matthews hasn’t done enough as a left tackle to provide quality footage at this spot, there is one particular opponent he faced last year as a right tackle who is a good test for anyone on the left side, college or NFL. That would be Barkevious Mingo, who, like Lawrence Taylor, displays rare athleticism and relentlessness off the edge as an outside linebacker. Even as a right tackle last year, Matthews’ matchup with Mingo at LSU and the athletes at Alabama are performances that any NFL prospect at left tackle would be proud to have in his portfolio.