Tuesday, March 3, 2015
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Matt Kalil

[Note: “Welcome To The Big Show” is a series where we will take an in-depth look at each of the Vikings draft selections this year. Every day will feature a new player and analysis.]

Welcome To The Big Show: Matt Kalil

1. Player Info

Name: Matt Kalil
Height: 6’6”
Weight: 306 lbs.
Position: OT
College: USC

2. Personal History

Football runs in Kalil’s blood. Both his father were studs in college and went on to have NFL careers (Frank Kalil was drafted by the Buffalo Bills in 1982 and his brother, Ryan Kalil, plays for the Carolina Panthers). Since high school, Matt Kalil has really excelled at football garnering honors and accolades from his earliest days at Serrvite High School in Anaheim, California until his last snap at USC. Outside of his football career, Kalil majored in Sociology at USC.

3. The Attributes

40 Yard Dash: 4.99 sec.
Bench Press: 30 reps (225 lb
Vertical Jump: 27”
3 Cone Drill: 7.33 sec.
20 Yard Shuttle: 4.65 sec.
Reported Wonderlic Score: 15

4. Skills

Strengths:
+ Dominant pass protector
+ Huge frame to grow in to
+ No durability issues
+ Quick feet
+ Athletic
+ Great technique
+ Experienced
+ Ready to play in NFL
+ NFL bloodlines

Weaknesses:
– Could improve run blocking
– Needs more power/strength

5. College Highlights

6. The Selection

Despite the smokescreens put up by General Manager Rick Spielman and the Vikings front office, it’s been well-known that the Vikings would select Matt Kalil with their first selection in the 2012 NFL Draft. Thanks to the smart maneuvering of Spielman, the Vikings were also able to swap spots with the Cleveland Browns (who had the #4 selection) and still select Kalil, gaining three additional 2012 picks in the process. Generally, Kalil’s selection is received well by fans who understand that protecting sophomore quarterback Christian Ponder is crucial to the future of this franchise. Kalil was considered by many to be the best non-quarterback in this draft class so it makes sense he was the first selection by the Vikings who had such a huge need at the left tackle position.

7. Scouting Reports

Walterfootball.com
FFToolbox.com
Draft Countdown
Sideline Scouting

8. Quotes

“Not so much of a concern, but I’m more anxious for the opportunity to compete at the highest level which is the NFL. I’m excited to go against the best defensive end in the NFL day in and day out in Jared Allen. I think he is definitely going to make me a better player and to go against a lot of other good defensive ends in the NFL. I think it’s more excitement for the challenge to really test my skills.”‘ – Matt Kalil

“I’m low key. Even though I’m from L.A. and Hollywood, that doesn’t represent my personality at all. I kind of like to hang out with my friends, play a lot of football, that’s what I love to do. My dream car is a Ford truck, a brand new Ford F-150. That’s the kind of guy I am and I also love to be a good teammate and a good family man.” – Matt Kalil

“I was pretty confident but with the draft, you never know what happens. When I first got into the green room and the pick started being traded and stuff, I didn’t know what to expect. When that pick came in, I was just staring at my phone, praying a Minnesota number would pop up and all of a sudden it started vibrating and ended up being picked there. I was excited. I think this is probably one of the only places I really wanted to play and could see myself playing so it is pretty crazy being here.” – Matt Kalil

“When you look at all the All-Pro left tackles today, Jake Long, Joe Thomas, those guys aren’t any more than 315 pounds and if you’re going against guys like Jared Allen, James Harrison, Dwight Freeney, those fast guys, you can’t be that heavy to keep up with them. It’s almost smart to be really strong but also have enough weight to handle those bull rushes but I think this is a game of speed and quickness so I think you have to have more quickness over how heavy you are.” – Matt Kalil

9. Where He Fits

Matt Kalil is expected to be an immediate starter at the Vikings left tackle position, allowing Charlie Johnson to be moved one spot to the right to left guard. The expectations both the Vikings staff and fans have for Kalil are incredibly high. Many expect him to be a pro-bowl caliber tackle who is with the team for many years to come.

10. Vikings Territory Grades

Brett’s Grade: A+
Adam’s Grade: A+

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Here we are, Day Two of the NFL Draft!

The Vikings entered the first round armed with 10 picks.  They have now expectedly upgrade the left tackle, safety, and arguably left guard position and still have 10 picks to spend.  As a result, I have three questions I want to ask each of you.

 

 

Jared Allen couldn’t possibly mean more to this organization than he did at the end of the 2011 season, right?

Wrong.

The Vikings say they are excited about using Allen not only as a veteran mentor, but as the fiercest of practice dummies, with hopes that Matt Kalil will get better quicker by having to face Allen every day in practice.

“One of the good things about Matt coming to our team is he’ll get a chance to face arguably the best defensive end in the National Football League day in and day out in practice,” Leslie Frazier said on Thursday. “That’s going to be a great part of his prep in getting him prepared for what he’s going to see on Sunday afternoons.”

Rick Spielman also acknowledged that Allen’s presence on the practice field should only make Kalil better prepared, and Kalil himself sounds ready for the task.

“The competitor I am, I know that Jared will help make me a great player. Especially the division the Vikings are in – with the Chicago Bears and going against Julius Peppers plus my old teammate, Clay Matthews, going against him in Green Bay. It’s definitely a league of great pass rushers and great defensive ends. So it’s going to be good going against the greatest defensive end in the NFL in Jared Allen. I’m very excited for that.”

Matt Kalil admitted that he was keeping an open mind regarding where he might end up being drafted and also where he might end up living.

“I think that I had an idea that’s where I might end up,” Kalil said Thursday night. “But the way the draft works, and especially right now, all these trades going down and everything, I was trying to keep open-minded.”

He also said he was relieved to see his cell phone light up once the Vikings were on the clock after the team indeed dropped backwards one spot in a trade with Cleveland.

“Out of all the visits I took,” Kalil continued, “Minnesota was the only place where I could really see myself living and spending the next 10 years and finishing out my football career there. I knew some people that went to Minnesota and a lot of players that played there. They said there’s no other place like it, especially the fanbase that Minnesota has — it’s probably the best in the NFL. So, as soon as I was picked there, I knew I was going into a great place and a great team as well.”

Way to pander Matt, way to pander.  We don’t mind, especially with our team’s future hanging in the balance from a relocation standpoint.

Kalil seemed like a humble yet confident guy in his introductory press conference, and I for one am glad to have him on our team.

On Thursday, the Vikings weeks of posturing ended up right back where everyone assumed it began, with them selecting USC left tackle Matt Kalil with their first pick in the 2012 NFL Draft.  The only caveat was, after picking up three extra picks, he was selected one spot later than we all expected.

While Rick Spielman had enough media types bamboozled into thinking they might take LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne, but instead they took the player they likely targeted all along.  Then, they snuck into the end of the first round and selected Notre Dame safety Harrison Smith.

Following the Draft I will dust off my old “Welcome to the Big Show” features and we’ll look at every prospect selected very closely.  For now, however, I want to provide some instant reaction to the selections and give you an idea for how I feel on each guy.

MATT KALIL

The Vikings expect that they have found themselves a cornerstone for the organization that will be around for at least a decade, protecting quarterbacks and paving paths for runners.

Kalil’s real strength matches well with the weaknesses of the Vikings current tackles.  He is a superb pass protector who utilizes his athleticism and quick feet to ensure that if the quarterback gets hit, it won’t be from his side.  USC often left Kalil by himself and he held up great despite the lack of help.

His run blocking has been pointed out by many analysts as needing improvement, but somewhere along the line “needing improvement” turned into “a huge weakness” within media circles.  The truth is, Kalil’s smaller frame and upright style seldom affected his game negatively in college, and his ability to get to the second and third level in the run game to take on linebackers and safeties far outweighs any negatives.  Sure, he can add some bulk and a little strength (which he probably will) but there is no denying that this kid is an elite prospect as a left tackle.

Left tackle is where he will immediately be plugged in.  With Kalil manning that spot, the Vikings then plan to slide Charlie Johnson inside to left guard, thus upgrading two positions with one choice.

I couldn’t be happier about this pick and while he won’t single-handedly win Minnesota a Super Bowl, he should prove to be a huge step in the right direction for this offense that needs to be built around Christian Ponder and Adrian Peterson.

Adam’s Grade:  A+

HARRISON SMITH

The Vikings desperately needed help at the safety position.  If they went into the season with Jamarca Sanford and Mistral Raymond as their starters, well, I just wouldn’t be expecting much… we’ll put it that way.

To me, the top two safety prospects in this Draft were clearly Mark Barron from Alabama and Harrison Smith from Notre Dame.  After that, I felt like there was a great disparity between them and the second tier of safeties.

Barron went to the Bucs very early on in the Draft and the Vikings gave up a fourth rounder to move to the 29th spot from their original second round position and grabbed Smith.  In doing so, they filled a huge need with a very solid prospect.

Smith has a nice, big frame and is known to be kind of a jack-of-all-trades type of player.  The Vikings liked the versatility from what they saw of him at the Senior Bowl.  His athleticism and range should be of benefit to a Vikings secondary that needs some positives added to it.  He truly is a sideline-to-sideline type of player.

Having even played some linebacker in the past, the Vikings surely like Smith’s tackling abilities and physical style of play.  He is at his best when playing downhill and is plenty capable of delivering a jarring hit.  Smith will event present the Vikings with a good ability to blitz on occasion.

Most attractive, however, were the leadership abilities he displayed within Notre Dame’s defense.  He is known as an ultra-competitive guy that is going to give you everything he’s got and then some.

There has been some knocks on his coverage ability, however, which would be why he never was considered a “blue chip” type of player.  His tape reveals some stiffness in his game and his interception totals went from seven as a junior to none as a senior.

Overall, Smith seems like a day one starter, especially for the Vikings.  He has room for improvement, but looks to be like an investment that could be well worth it.  I am looking forward to seeing him matchup against some of those big tight ends in our division.

The Vikings filled a need and got a very promising prospect.  Tough to find many complaints about this one, other than perhaps the fact that they had to trade up to get him.

Adam’s Grade:  A-

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