Friday, July 3, 2015

Matt Kalil

Most of us would be a little taken aback if one day our boss came through the office and introduced a new employee… who would be taking your job, while you moved to another.

In the case of Charlie Johnson, it shouldn’t have come as too big of a surprise when the Vikings used their first pick in the 2012 NFL Draft on USC left tackle Matt Kalil, but offensive line coach Jeff Davidson wasn’t going to treat Johnson, or the situation, like it was no big thing.

Davidson immediately set up a meeting between Kalil and Johnson to try and make sure everybody knew exactly where they stood after it became apparent that Johnson would be moving to left guard.

“I just saw (Johnson) and explained to him, ‘You two guys are going to be best friends,'” said Davidson of the meeting. “And I introduced Charlie to his family, Matt’s family, as well. They all know who he is. I said, ‘There isn’t going to be any bad blood.’ And Charlie said, ‘I just want to win games.’ He does not care where he plays this game. He just wants to help us win. That’s the type of guy he is.”

“It wasn’t anything like, ‘Aw, man. Here it goes,'” said Johnson, explaining his feelings after the Vikings selected Kalil. “It was more of an ‘Alright, let’s go. Let’s get to work.’ I came up here the next day and he was up here eating lunch and talking. And I sat down and talked with him for a minute and it was on from there. So it was no big deal.

“There is no animosity,” Johnson continued.  “Look, I’m going to play. I feel that I’m one of the best five guys we have on our offensive line room. So I’m going to play. To me it doesn’t matter where it’s at.”

According to Davidson, it only took until week three of the 2011 season to figure out that Johnson might be better suited at the guard position, and he was more than willing to share that with Johnson.

“This was something that’s kind of been ongoing,” Davidson said. “I’m going to try and put it as nice as I can. I’m a no-nonsense guy. And essentially when I think that I see a guy and I know what he is capable of and what he would help us most at, I’m going to let him know that. Our postseason interviews that we had when I talked to Charlie, I said, ‘You may be our left tackle. You may be our left guard. I don’t know yet. We’re going to be better at two positions if we get a left tackle in here.”

“He is a good athlete so he was able to survive — the term I might use — at left tackle,” Davidson said of Johnson. “The fact that he has an opportunity to be able to use his athleticism as a puller, the smarts to be able to help our new left tackle, and transfer information from our center to that, he’s going to help fill the bill at guard. He can play any position on the line if we asked him to, in all honesty. I just think if we had to pick one for him it’s the offensive guard position. So this helps us in a lot of ways.”

Everyone is sure making it sound like the starting job at left guard is Johnson’s to lose, despite a hefty quantity of intriguing interior linemen ready to battle for employment during training camp.  If Johnson manages to thrive in his new role with the Vikings, he could finally be looking at long term certainty for his career, and the Vikings could finally be looking at long term certainty along their offensive line.

Matt Kalil will likely sign a four year deal with a fifth year option within the next few weeks, which will cement him as the franchise’s left tackle.  Center John Sullivan signed an extension in December that will keep him employed through the 2016 season.  Johnson, if he sticks as a left guard, has two seasons remaining on his contract.

Perhaps we can look forward to once again having a dominant left side of our line?

It is early.  I repeat:  It is early.  I know this, I understand this… I get it.

Still, we could continue to beat ourselves up over the gory stadium details and fret about rookie contracts that are not (and never will be) a problem, or we can have some fun around here.  Of course, we could probably do all of that, but I’m feeling kind of lazy tonight so I’ll just stick to the fun stuff.

After the jump, I’m going to take a look at the 89 guys on the roster and attempt to predict (again, I know, it is early) the 53 man roster on opening day.  Feel free to give me your feedback, whether it is nice or not, in the comments section.

Enjoy!

[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.”

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