Now that free agency and the 2022 NFL Draft draft are (mostly) behind us, it’s time to take a closer look at the Atlanta Falcons’ roster heading in to the summer. Outside of a few additions and subtractions here and there in the course of training camp and the preseason, this is the roster Atlanta will be working with during the 2022 season.
We’ll kick things off with a look at the projected starters and players competing for those spots. Next up is the offensive line. Arguably the weakest unit on the roster in 2021, the Falcons have left the starting group intact and made very few impact additions. Two signings came at tackle in Germain Ifedi and Elijah Wilkinson, along with a sixth-round rookie guard in Justin Shaffer.
We’ll kick things off with the projected starters, beginning on the left side of the line: Jake Matthews.
OT Jake Matthews
Contract: $15.12M cap hit in 2022, signed through 2026
Career Production: 128 games played, 128 games started
2021 Production: 17 games played, 17 games started | 1,029 snaps played, 6 penalties, 3 sacks allowed | 71.3 overall PFF grade
Previous Teams: Drafted in the 1st Round (6th overall) by the Atlanta Falcons (2014-present)
When you look at Thomas Dimitroff’s contributions to the offensive line, it’s an extremely mixed bag to say the least. There are abundant misses, particularly in the draft, along with a few tremendous hits. One of those hits was Jake Matthews, who the Falcons selected with the sixth overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. Atlanta was in desperate need of improved pass protection after starting arguably the worst OL in football the previous year. Jake Matthews was called upon from day one to stabilize the left side. He did just that, and has since grown into one of the most consistent left tackles in the league.
The Falcons will be relying on Jake Matthews to man the blind side once again in 2022 and in the foreseeable future after his extension this offseason. A terrific pass protector, Matthews was a perfect match for Matt Ryan and Atlanta’s typically pass-happy offenses. Matthews’ elite athletic traits also make him an ideal fit in the zone blocking scheme run by Arthur Smith.
It seems that Matthews may once again have to cover up poor play at left guard, as the Falcons have done very little to solidify the spot after Jalen Mayfield’s rough rookie season. Hopefully, with some improvement from Mayfield, the savvy veteran can help bring the left side up to at least an average level. Regardless of the play beside him, the team can trust Matthews to deliver above-average left tackle play throughout the 2022 season.
Projection: Jake Matthews will once again be the starting left tackle in 2022. The 30-year-old veteran is an excellent pass blocker and an athletic run blocker who should continue to man the position at an above-average or better level for the next several seasons.