Editor’s note: This is the first of five Q&As with current Falcons players, detailing their journey through the draft process.
In the past 25 years, the Falcons have used their first-round pick to draft an offensive tackle just once, when they selected Jake Matthews with the sixth-overall pick in 2014.
Matthews, the son of Hall of Famer Bruce Matthews, was viewed by many to the most developed and well-rounded offensive lineman, and nobody could question his NFL pedigree. Matthews has gone on to start all but one game during his five-year career with the Falcons, and he was named to his first Pro Bowl in 2014.
With the NFL Draft just around the corner, we asked Matthews about his own path to Atlanta.
Question: What do you remember most about your draft journey?
Matthews: Looking back on it, I felt so young. I didn’t even really know what I was getting into. I had no idea where I was going to go. It’s kind of a feeling of uncertainty, because just like that your life is going to change. It was fun, it was really cool because I had family there and it was exciting. But, yeah, it was a wild time. Looking back on it now, I feel like I’ve completely changed as a person.
Q: If you could give yourself any advice as a draft prospect what would that be?
Matthews: It’s funny because everyone kept saying when I was coming out that, ‘Oh, his dad’s a Hall of Famer, every member of his family has played football. He’s going to know how it is.’ That’s not the case at all. You’ve got to come into it yourself and do it yourself. Win and lose multiple times out on the field to figure it out yourself. I don’t care how much you’ve been around it your whole life or how good you were in college, you don’t know what you are until you get out here.
Q: What there anyone who was really influential to you throughout the draft process?
Matthews: Yeah, that’s a pretty easy question. My dad, really for everything in my life has been the most influential person for me. We’ve kind of had the same career to the point I’m at now. He’s just got great advice for everything.
Q: What was some of the advice he gave to you?
Matthews: So, with him, it was mainly, ‘Obviously you can’t control everything, just go out there and show them what you can do and whatever happens happens. Put your name to something and you’re going to stick with it.’
Q: Was there anything that surprised you about the draft process?
Matthews: Obviously, playing football in college you’re still doing school and football. When you get to the NFL it’s a full-time job, man. I didn’t even realize that you could meet that much and talk about football that much. I was expecting the players to be really good, but then you come out and I quickly realized that every guy you’re going against every week is some stud from somewhere who is a really good player. It was definitely a learning experience, but I don’t regret anything. I’m very happy with the way it’s turned out.