What do the Falcons have in Cliff Matthews? It's a question that bedevils science.
I've been high on Matthews since the Falcons draft him last year, bringing the seventh-round pick to a line that hasn't offered a whole lot of pass rush. He did nothing to dissuade me from thinking of him as a player during the pre-season, when he looked like a man among boys against other teams' third-stringers. Level of competition and all that, but damn did he look like a guy with upside.
Of course, he spent the last year inactive on almost every game day and will go into 2012 without a lot of game film to tell us where he is on the development curve. With John Abraham, Kroy Biermann, Ray Edwards and Lawrence Sidbury all at least nominally ahead of him on the depth chart, I doubt you'll see much of young Matthews this season, either.
Down the line, I think Matthews has the right blend of physicality, speed, pass rushing instincts and pure skill to be an impact reserve, at minimum. If I'm being totally honest, I think his ceiling is higher than that, and I think he could prove to be the steal of the 2011 draft. There's obviously a long way to go if he's going to become that player, but I do think it's at least a possibility.
I'll turn it over to you. What do you think of Matthews?