The SEC's 25 best players: No. 9

January, 29, 2014
Jan 29
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The next player in our countdown looks like a potential top-10 pick in the first round of May's NFL draft and a player who has famous bloodlines, especially among offensive linemen.

[+] EnlargeJake Matthews
Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY SportsJake Matthews anchored the Texas A&M offensive line as a senior and will be one of the top selections in the NFL draft.
No. 9: Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M

2013 summary: Matthews earned himself a spot at the finalists' table for the Outland Trophy with his play this season and was a first-team All-American. He moved from right tackle to left tackle and was part of a unit that helped Texas A&M lead the SEC in scoring offense (44.2 points per game) and total offense (538.4 yards per game). Matthews excelled in pass protection and was equally effective as a run blocker.

Most recent ranking: Ranked No. 6 in the 2013 preseason countdown.

Making the case for Matthews: The 6-foot-5, 305-pound Matthews is what coach Kevin Sumlin liked to call a "low-maintenance great player." The son of Pro Football Hall of Fame lineman Bruce Matthews, Jake is a worker and film junkie who consistently performed at a high level. He wasn't perfect -- there were times he was beaten, as will happen when facing the elite defensive linemen in the SEC -- but he anchored a line that offered quarterback Johnny Manziel top-notch pass protection and helped open running lanes for a quartet of talented running backs. He would have been a first-round pick in last year's draft but by returning for his senior season and moving to left tackle, Matthews likely played his way into the top 10 of the draft and perhaps the top five.

The rundown:
No. 10: Aaron Murray, QB, Georgia, Sr.
No. 11: Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn, So.
No. 12: Jeremy Hill, RB, LSU, So.
No. 13: Dee Ford, DE, Auburn, Sr.
No. 14: Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia, So.
No. 15: Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina, Jr.
No. 16: Odell Beckham, Jr., WR, LSU, Jr.
No. 17: Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri, Jr.
No. 18: T.J. Yeldon, RB, Alabama, So.
No. 19: Jarvis Landry, WR, LSU, Jr.
No. 20: Cody Prewitt, S, Ole Miss, Jr.
No. 21: Nick Marshall, QB, Auburn, Jr.
No. 22: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama, Jr.
No. 23: Gabe Jackson, OG, Mississippi State, Sr.
No. 24: Kenny Ladler, S, Vanderbilt, Sr.
No. 25: E.J. Gaines, CB, Missouri, Jr.

Sam Khan | email

Texas A&M/SEC reporter

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