Considering he's playing at right tackle, it's easy to overlook Texas A&M's Jake Matthews and focus on the highly talented left tackle Luke Joeckel. But a few weeks ago, we saw a rare match up between arguably the top two pass-rushers in this draft class against arguably (and I'll fight in Matthews corner on this one), the two top offensive tackles in this draft class. Matthews spent most of the game dueling it out with Barkevious Mingo, leaving Joeckel to block Sam Montgomery. But rarely were either of the tackles given help, something most teams have to do against LSU.
The first thing that impressed me about Matthews was his awareness. He had his head on a swivel, ready to pick up the extra rusher if needed.
Here, LSU run a cornerback blitz on Matthews' side.
Matthews get a solid punch on Mingo while he waits for the corner to become a threat.
After handing Mingo off inside to the right guard, Matthews is able to drop step and get into position to cut off the corner blitz. The corner ends up slipping as he attempted to come back inside, but Matthews played the blitz perfectly and was in a great position to shut down the corner.
Here's another example.
The LSU defensive end attacks Matthews' outside shoulder, while an extra defender is also blitzing from that side.
Matthews engages with the defender, displaying sound technique and maintaining a good pad level.
Matthews delivers a strong punch to the defensive end to disengage him in order to pick up the extra blitzing defender.
Matthews then slides to cut off the extra defender, leaving the right guard and running back to twiddle their thumbs as they look for something to do.
In the run game, Matthews excelled at positioning himself to make effective blocks. This is particularly evident when he's cutting off one side of the play.
Here A&M is in a goalline situation. They are going to run the ball up the middle, but I'm focusing on Matthews.
Before the snap even reaches the quarterback's hands, Matthews is already in a perfect position to cut off his side of the play.
Matthews anchors and uses solid hand placement to hold off the defender. Before the defender is able to adjust, the ball is in the end zone.
However, Matthews can at times struggle to finish his block in the run game.
Just like in the previous play, Matthews is in a terrific position to block this play effectively.
But somehow, Matthews and the tight end allow Mingo to power his way between them. This is a guy that is listed at 240 pounds, and yet the two of them couldn't contain him on a run play.
Matthews has to resort to holding Mingo. But the refs see it and throw the flag.
His run blocking is something that will need work at the next level, but the positions he takes, and his technique he displays in pass protection suggests to me that he'll be able to improve. But honestly, Matthews will make his money with his pass protection skills. We already saw how he can pick up extra blitzers, but on this play, he goes head to head against Mingo. Watch as Mingo throws everything and the kitchen sink at Matthews.
Directly off the snap, Mingo fakes an inside move before quickly jumping back outside to try and throw Matthews off balance.
Matthews is up to the test of his footwork, landing a good punch to disrupt the rush of Mingo. But Mingo is far from done.
Mingo tries to force his way back inside.
But Matthews denies access. Mingo still has one more trick up his sleeve.
Mingo attacks Matthews' outside shoulder before quickly performing a spin move.
Mingo exits his spin move and finds that he still has Matthews in front of him. Matthews was amazingly able to mirror every single move Mingo threw at him, allowing his quarterback an amazing five seconds in the pocket on fourth and three.
That play was outstanding of Matthews, and really summed up his performance in the game. Mingo barely had a sniff of the quarterback all game long. Matthews footwork and technique are sound and well rehearsed. He shows these traits on nearly every play, which is why I believe he can be a successful left tackle in the NFL, despite being behind Joeckel at A&M.
Special thanks to @Jmpasq on twitter for his video of this game. Check him out for videos of other draft prospects.