In our annual 32 picks in 32 days CSNPhily.com mock draft, we select one player each day until the start of the NFL draft on April 26.
3. Vikings: Matt Kalil, OT, USC, 6-7306
Coming off a miserable 3-13 season, the Minnesota Vikings could do any number of things in this spot. They could trade down to acquire additional draft picks. They could stay put and draft a cornerback say, Morris Claiborne of LSU since they were last in the league with eight interceptions last season. They could draft Justin Blackmon, a stud wide receiver.
All of those moves make sense, but it makes more sense to draft Matt Kalil, the 6-7, 306 pound tackle from USC, someone who will protect the blindside of quarterback Christian Ponder. The Vikings allowed 49 sacks last season and a lot of those were the fault of left tackle Charles Johnson. Even as a rookie, Kalil will be a huge upgrade over Johnson.
Even before the NFL scouting combine, Kalil projected as the top offensive lineman in the draft, but he only enhanced his credentials at Indianapolis when he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.99 seconds and cranked out 30 reps in the 225-pound bench press. Kalil also impressed the coaches and scouts in his interviews and blackboard sessions.
Kalil is a prototype left tackle with height, long arms (34.5 inches) and good feet. He did not allow a sack all of last season. He has excellent technique which isnt surprising since his father, Frank, was an offensive lineman who played two seasons in the USFL, and his brother, Ryan, was an All-America center at USC and now is a Pro Bowler in Carolina.
Kalils teammate Tyron Smith was a first round selection by Dallas last season and Smith started at right tackle and played well for the Cowboys. Kalil is better than Smith so there is no reason to think he wont step right in and play well for the Vikings.
Kalil combines power and agility with a nasty streak. At USC, he pancaked opponents regularly and seemed to enjoy it. He showed good awareness, recognizing blitzes and line stunts. He rarely missed a switch or a pickup.
There is really no flaw in his game. He is strong enough to knock opponents off the line, athletic enough to pass protect against speed rushers and quick enough off the ball to get to the second level and demolish linebackers. Kalil looks like one of those guys who will be a Pro Bowl fixture for years. It is hard to imagine the Vikings passing him up.