Jake Matthews was the 6th overall selection out of Texas A&M last season, but his rookie season was a huge disappointment. He suffered a high ankle sprain early in the season which hampered his play, and he just simply played awful for the first half of the season. However, as Matthews got healthier throughout the season, his play improved. He showed great ability as a pass blocker in the second half of the season. If Matthews can fully recover from his Lisfranc injury that he suffered late in the season, this year should be different. Matthews will have a whole year of experience under his belt and will be in a zone blocking scheme that will likely improve the offensive line as a whole. If Matthews can stay healthy, he has the ability to break out in 2015 and prove that he can be a franchise Left Tackle.
Another offensive lineman makes the list in Ryan Schraeder. You can make the argument that Schraeder has already had his “break out” season, but who’s to say there’s not more room for improvement? Schraeder was undrafted out of Valdosta State and found himself in a starter role in Week 6 due to a plethora of injuries. Schraeder never looked back, as he became the team’s best offensive lineman. He graded out as ProFootballFocus.com’s 22nd best Tackle in the NFL despite starting only 10 games. He graded out as an exceptional pass blocker. Schraeder will now get to see first team reps in training camp and reap the benefits of the zone blocking scheme as well. He has room for improvement as a run blocker, and being in this type of scheme can help him make huge strides in that department. I see him building upon last season’s performance and having a huge 2015.
If the offensive line can hold his own this season, Tevin Coleman could have a big rookie campaign. We’ve seen how Kyle Shanahan has made unknowns such as Arian Foster and Alfred Morris into superstars, and if Tevin Coleman gets the snaps he could be in for a 1000+ yard season. Teams have to respect the Falcons’ ability to pass the ball with playmakers like Matt Ryan, Julio Jones and Roddy White, and Coleman will have the ability to shine in the offense much like Michael Turner did in his prime. Coleman rushed for over 2000 yards last season at Indiana, and Kyle Shanahan’s resume speaks for itself: the ZBS works. Coleman is here to reap the benefits, and he could be a dark horse for Rookie of the Year as long as he’s not in a 50/50 split with Devonta Freeman.