For most NFL talent evaluators he's the safest offensive tackle pick in the draft. Armed with some of the most refined technical skills for an offensive lineman in the class, Jake Matthews walked into the team facility at One Bills Drive Wednesday to meet with Buffalo's coaching staff. Joining him was Louisville ILB Preston Brown.
OT Jake Matthews
Matthews (6-5, 307) was a three-year starter and two-time first team All-American at offensive tackle for Texas A&M. He played on the right side in 2012 and left tackle in 2013. Matthews finished his college career with 45 straight starts showing a durability not unlike his father who played in the NFL for 19 seasons.
"One thing my dad's always tried to reiterate with me is if you go out and work hard and do things the right way and put your full effort in, you'll get the results you want," said Matthews. "That's something I've always tried to do."
Matthews has proven to be quick off the snap and consistently keeps his feet moving to effectively mirror pass rushers. Whether it's his hand punch, firing off the ball with leverage, overall field awareness or his solid work ethic Matthews might be the most polished offensive linemen in the class this spring.
"Being considered a polished player, someone who's done a lot and played well in my life, I'll take that as a (compliment)," said Matthews. "At the same time, I still feel like there's a lot I can get better at. I definitely wouldn't say I'm at my peak – a lot more I can learn, a lot more I can get better at. So all those things (are) stuff that's motivating me, and I'm just trying to prove I am capable of being the best lineman."
Buffalo is believed to have an interest in adding to their offensive tackle contingent at some point in the draft this spring. Matthews however, is no guarantee to even be on the board when the Bills are on the clock at nine. He's been widely forecast as a top 10 pick, but could go as high as second overall to St. Louis.
ILB Preston Brown
The inside linebacker was a three-year starter for the Cardinals and led the team in tackles in 2013. Simply put Brown (6-1, 251) is a run game hitter. Armed with a thick build and big hands, Brown is adept at taking on blocks at the point and shedding to make tackles in the run game.
He isn't blessed with elite athleticism so his range in pass coverage might be seen as limited by some NFL scouts, but he has good football instincts and provides an added asset to a defense as a quality blitzer. Where Brown excels though is defending the run game as evidenced by one of his better performances in Louisville's Sugar Bowl win over Florida in 2013 when he led the team with 13 tackles.
"I think tackling is one of the best things I do. It's one of the main parts of the game," said Brown. "You've got to be able to tackle, especially if you're going to be a linebacker. I try to be around the ball as much as I can and get forced fumbles anyway I could when I was around the ball."
Brown, who finished his college career with 301 tackles, played in a base 4-3 defense at Louisville, but the Cardinals would often mix their fronts with an array of different personnel packages.
He improved on his 4.86 40 time at the NFL combine clocking a 4.79 at the Louisville pro day. He also bettered his bench press rep count with 26 up from 23 at the combine. He also turned in a 33-inch vertical and a nine-foot eight-inch broad jump in Indianapolis.
Brown has been forecast as an early day three draft choice.