Matt Kalil

Draft Grades: Minnesota Vikings

When reports surfaced that the Minnesota Vikings were interested in Morris Claiborne with the 3rd pick, I was worried about the future of the franchise. Fortunately for Vikings fans, Rick Spielman got it right, and put together a reasonably solid draft class.

Matt Kalil was absolutely the right choice, and the fact that they picked up some extra draft picks from Cleveland was just icing on the cake. He’ll anchor their offensive line for the next decade, hopefully protecting Christian Ponder’s blind side.

I hate when rebuilding teams trade up in the draft, and the issue is compounded when they then reach for a specific position of need, which is exactly what the Vikings did by moving up to select Harrison Smith. I like Smith, but he’s not a 1st-round talent. He has the ability to start, but he won’t be a difference maker at the next level. I think Smith needs to play strong safety to be effective, but it sounds like the Vikings will be using him at free safety.

Josh Robinson was nice pick in the 3rd round and should compete for a starting job immediatelly. His impressive showing at the combine made him slightly overrated, but his speed should allow him to be a valuable cover corner against some of the league’s faster receivers. He’s a solid second option at cornerback.

I like the selection of Jarius Wright in the 4th round. He was one of the best deep threats still on the board and should be able to contribute in that capacity from day one.

Rhett Ellison is a fullback/tight end ‘tweener but I’m not sure how he fits in Minnesota. The Vikings already have Kyle Rudolph and John Carlson at tight end and recently signed fullback Jerome Felton. Ellison may have to fight just to stay on the roster.

Greg Childs was a great sleeper pickup in the late 4th round. If healthy, he could have been a 2nd-round selection, but injuries concerns caused him to plummet down draft boards. He has more upside than Wright, but is definitely a bigger risk.

Robert Blanton played cornerback at Notre Dame but is simply too slow to play the position at the next level, and may even be too slow to play safety. But he’ll be given an opportunity to win the starting strong safety job, and may actually be the favorite heading into camp.

Blair Walsh is a talented kicker but is coming off a terrible season. There was no reason his name should have been called before the late 7th round at the earliest. I don’t like his chances of beating out Ryan Longwell for the starting job, but he could catch on elsewhere if he can put his 2011 season behind him.

Audie Cole was a great 7th-round pick. He has the ability to provide some depth at inside or weak-side linebacker and I like his chances of making the final roster cuts.

Trevor Guyton may have been my favorite 7th-round pick of the draft. I had a late 4th-round grade on Guyton and I think he could be a quality backup at right defensive end or as a three-technique tackle. He has a potential to be one of the better steals of the draft.

While I don’t agree with every move the Vikings made, this was still a solid draft class. Rick Spielman did a nice job finding good value at all points of the draft and may have come away with at least three immediate starters (Kalil, Smith, Blanton).

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Draft Grades - 2012, Vikings 3 Comments

Vikings select Matt Kalil, Grade A+

After creating much drama over the past few days, the Vikings end up selecting the guy we assumed they had targeted all along. I was worried about this franchise for awhile there when they were reportedly considering Claiborne, but they made the right choice.

After rolling the dice on Christian Ponder last year, they absolutely had to address the offensive line in this draft (especially considering his injury history). Matt Kalil will be, at worst, a solid starter for the next decade.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2012 NFL Draft, Vikings Comments Off

Rams targeting Matt Kalil?

Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer is reporting that the St. Louis Rams are interested in trading up for the 4th pick in the draft.

The obvious assumption is that the team is targeting Justin Blackmon, and is worried that either the Browns or Bucs (or someone else trading up) will land him before the 6th pick.

But what if the Rams have other plans?

Matt Kalil

Is Kalil the Rams real target?

The Browns are unlikely to draft Blackmon – it just doesn’t fit with the track record of GM Tom Heckert and President Mike Holmgren. And the Bucs almost certainly have Morris Claiborne and Trent Richardson ahead of Blackmon on their board. So what could be motivating the Rams to move up?

Perhaps their target is actually Matt Kalil, and this proposed trade is contingent on the Vikings passing on the future franchise left tackle.

While adding a playmaker for Sam Bradford is certainly a priority, so is keeping Bradford on his feet. Rodger Saffold is better suited to play right tackle, and Jason Smith may be better off playing guard (or simply a backup role at this point). Kalil would certainly change the dynamic of the Rams offensive line, and the extra time provided to Bradford could open things up in the passing game.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2012 NFL Draft, Rams Comments Off

Vikings Offseason Priority: Protect Ponder

The Minnesota Vikings took a risk last year by investing a high 1st-round pick in Christian Ponder. And now that they have their franchise quarterback, it’s time to surround him with the talent he needs to succeed.

According to ProFootballFocus.com the Vikings offensive line ranked in the middle of the pack in terms of pass blocking efficiency (16th overall). But while they were acceptable as a group, there are some holes which could be filled.

The most glaring issue on the line is at left tackle, where free agent pickup Charlie Johnson struggled all season. ProFootballFocus ranked Johnson 42nd out of 58 tackles in terms of pass blocking efficiency (93.5%).

The best-case scenario for the Vikings would be land Matt Kalil with the 3rd overall selection. Adding Kalil would allow the Vikings to cut Johnson, who is set to earn $2.95M in each of the next two seasons.

If Kalil is off the board, however, there isn’t an offensive lineman worthy of the 3rd overall selection. However, if Kalil is gone, that means Robert Griffin is still on the board. The  Vikings could potentially trade down with either the Redskins or Dolphins and select Riley Reiff at a more appropriate position in the 1st round, while also adding some much needed draft picks.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2012 NFL Draft, Vikings Comments Off

Matt Kalil scouting report

Matt Kalil OT USC
Ht: 6’7″

Wt: 295

Strengths:
Prototypical height. Good overall strength; has a sturdy base to go with a strong upper body. Decent athleticism; looks good pulling to the edge and blocking downfield. Great fundamentals. Quick feet in pass protection; gets into position quickly and holds his ground. Powerful, tough run blocker. NFL bloodlines; brother Ryan is offensive lineman for Panthers, father played in USFL.
Weaknesses:
Rarely finishes off his blocks in pass protection; has the ability to keep pass rushers at bay, but lacks the strength to finish them off. Athleticism is decent, but isn’t in the same class as some of the elite left tackles in the game.
Comments:
The only knock against Kalil is that he lacks elite measurables, but he is one of the top prospects in this draft class and should be starting left tackle for the next 10-12 years. He likely won’t stand out in offseason workouts, but his film speaks for itself. His fundamentals are exceptional for a collegiate lineman and he should be able to make a smooth transition to the NFL.

 

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Scouting Reports - 2012 Comments Off