The first day of the NFL Scouting Combine is in the books. It started with weigh-ins and measurements of the offensive linemen and tight ends. Overall, it was pretty uneventful as nobody showed up three inches shorter than listed by their college and nobody had freakishly short T-Rex arms.
For the Vikings and their fans, it seemed all eyes were on the top left tackles in the class, which of course includes USC standout Matt Kalil. Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman, however, left the door wide open to consider other prospects to protect Christian Ponder’s blind side.
“There are some very good left tackles coming out in this draft, not only Kalil, but there’s a lot of other guys that are going to be able to play left tackle in this league,” Spielman said. “You want to look at their ability to protect the quarterback’s blind side. Does he have the athletic skill set and does he have the feet and does he have the arm length to do everything to make him competitive at left tackle?”
While Spielman made it clear he has an open mind about the Vikings plans this April, he also didn’t kid anyone about how he views Kalil as a prospect.
“His brother turned out to be an extremely good player, a Pro Bowl player,” Spielman said. “Kalil is very talented at left tackle. He has all the feet and skillset that you’re looking for. He has the arm length. He has the nasty demeanor. The finish, when you watch him on tape, to finish run blocks. I feel he’s going to be a very good left tackle in this league as he grows in the position and moves forward.”
Spielman went full circle again, in an effort to keep the world guessing about their strategy, by suggesting that perhaps left tackle is overrated as a position.
“There’s the adage that you go back and forth on – is the left tackle that important or is it more important to have playmakers on offense? Because as your quarterback evolves, he learns the system, he gets the ball quicker out of his hand and all of a sudden that left tackle doesn’t need to be a Pro Bowl left tackle. He can be a functional left tackle because the quarterback evolves and he’s got playmakers. I just remember Aaron Rodgers and how the media were criticizing their offensive line when Aaron Rodgers took all those sacks his first year as a starter. Now, their offensive line has gotten better, but Aaron Rodgers has also gotten better … and they’ve got tremendous playmakers around him.”
Kalil himself spoke with the media on Thursday.
“For my dad, ‘Let’s play football’ means let’s go do kick steps and let’s work o-line drills,” Kalil said of growing up in a football family. “My first time going to Servite (High School in Anaheim), I tried to play tight end as a freshman and my dad went on the field and said ‘No, he’s playing left tackle.’ That pretty much ended that dream.”
“I would have been a sweet tight end,” Kalil said. “Maybe like an Anthony Munoz catching touchdowns.”
Kalil is trying to use his time as Indy to show that he has bulked up a bit and will be an improved run blocker.