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Friday, May 9, 2014
SEC, Miller helped Matthews prep for NFL

By Vaughn McClure

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- New Atlanta Falcons starting right tackle Jake Matthews, the sixth-overall pick who was introduced to the Atlanta-area media on Friday, already has an NFL pedigree with a Hall of Fame father and All-Pro cousin.

Bloodlines aren't the only reason Matthews should excel with the Falcons. He's a technician when it comes to offensive line play and doesn't defeat himself with mental errors.

And Matthews would be the first to say playing in the Southeastern Conference the past two years helped prepare him for the pass-rushers he'll face in the NFL. He singled out two opposing SEC pass-rushers in particular.

"I really liked Barkevious Mingo (from LSU) a lot. I thought he was a stud," Matthews said. "I played against Kony Ealy [of Missouri]. I thought he was pretty good, too."

Ironically, Mingo was the sixth-overall pick in last year's draft by the Cleveland Browns, while Ealy is one of the top players still on the board as the second round of this year's draft that continues Friday night.

Bruce Matthews agreed the SEC helped his son prepare for the caliber of pass-rushers he'll face in the NFL.

"You were getting the best of the best that were available at that level," the elder Matthews said. "And it's helped him to get to that point where he is right now. But probably the biggest thing is the adjustment he'll make now because the SEC or no SEC, there's no comparison between the jump of the highest college player to the NFL. And now, it's game in and game out."

There is one college pass-rusher, however, Matthews put above all others in terms of preparing him for the NFL. And it was his Texas A&M teammate.

"I've always got to put Von Miller in there because he's the guy that made me the player I am today," Matthews said of the current Denver Broncos' standout.