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With No. 6, Falcons should target Matthews

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.

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.