Friday, November 27, 2015

Matt Kalil

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The Vikings aren’t playing this weekend, but either are 29 other NFL teams… what can you do?  Before getting this week’s Vikings links to you I just wanted to take a second to remind everyone reading this to be safe and smart during and after Sunday’s festivities.

Enjoy the big game, we’ll see the Vikings in there soon enough!

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After three seasons, the 2012 Minnesota Vikings draft class is a bright spot on Rick Spielman’s curriculum vitae.

Harrison Smith, regardless of what the Pro Bowl roster says about him, is one of the NFL’s best young safeties and the Vikings will probably want to lock him up for the long-term very soon.  Josh Robinson, Jarius Wright, Rhett Ellison, Robert Blanton, Blair Walsh, and Audie Cole are all later-round players that have been positive contributors during their three years as Vikings.

Greg Childs was the casualty of a freak injury and seventh-round pick Trevor Guyton is now in Canada, but otherwise that group has been very productive.

One of the biggest question marks from this class, however, is the guy they drafted first and the guy that was heralded by many (myself included) as a “can’t-miss prospect.”  Left tackle Matt Kalil has been so underwhelming over the last two seasons that some Vikings fans are going so far as to wonder if the Vikings aren’t already scheming to replace him.

These fans are certainly going to be perplexed if the Vikings decide to pick up Kalil’s fifth year option this May when the decision needs to be made.

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Well, we haven’t seen all 16 games of the 2014 regular season and the Vikings still have 120 minutes of football to play, but I think we have seen enough to start up the old Irresponsible Speculation Machine (I.S.M – trademarked!) and look towards the 2015 offseason and what we might expect.

I’ve already compiled an early list of the Vikings free agents potentially headed for the open market, while Arif attempted to project Minnesota’s cap situation, so now we get down to the task of identifying the top needs across the roster moving forward.  Obviously a team that has only won six of their first 14 games, none of which have come against teams with winning records, has plenty of room for improvement across the board.

Still, I’m going to attempt the dangerous task of narrowing it down to five, and in my most daring and harrowing feat to-date I will put them in order.  See you in the comments section, Vikings junkies!

Vikings fans have gotten used to being the early game this season, but today we have to endure until round two.  So, while you wait, we’ve rounded up some Vikings-tastic reading to quench your thirst.  Here you go:


The Vikings return all 5 starters on the offensive line that was ranked 2nd in the NFL in rushing last season. In 2012, under second year offensive line coach Jeff Davidson, the big boys up front took important steps forward in production and consistency. The team saw all 5 guys as a unit start all 16 games, while giving up just 32 sacks compared to 49 the previous year. I would not be surprised to see all 5 guys win the starting jobs again this year and continue to improve as a unit.

Center John Sullivan, a 6th round draft pick in 2008, is the longest standing offensive lineman on the team and has been the leader and anchor in the middle as a starter since 2009. If Sully can stay healthy, he might have a chance to earn a spot in the Pro Bowl before his career is over.

Tackle Phil Loadholt owns the next longest tenure as a Vikings’ lineman. The Mammoth 2009 2nd round pick made headlines this off-season by signing a new 5 year contract. Loadholt is one of the top run blockers in the league and will lock down the right tackle spot again this season.

The left tackle spot belongs to 2012 first round pick Matt Kalil. The former USC star was chosen for the Pro Bowl after debuting as a rookie starter. The Vikings are counting on Kalil to have another Pro Bowl year protecting Ponder’s blind side.

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