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Matt Kalil & Common Sense

“…bringing in the top offensive tackle prospect in the draft..seems like an easy selection at three.”-Wes Bunting, National Football Post“…they (Vikings) must improve the protection”-Bucky Brooks,

“The Vikings…really need to shore up their protection”-Mel Kiper, ESPN

“… if Kalil is available they take him…You become a really good team by having a standout left tackle.” -Judd Zulgad, 1500ESPN

Versatile: Kalil blocks a kick

“All I know right now is Kalil is the logical target for the Vikings and if he’s not there my read is they’ll try to trade down”-Tom Pelissero, 1500ESPN

All the above listed pundits seem to agree that the obvious move for Spielman & co. in April’s draft would be to select Matt Kalil if he is still available. The underclassman from Southern California should need little introduction to most Vikings fans, as none of us have had much to look forward to but the draft for a long time. Suffice it to say, however, he has been likened to Joe Thomas. This common sense move follows from the belief that the team is in dire need of a franchise left tackle to protect the franchise quarterback apparent.

Are there other ways to strengthen the position outside of using the third overall pick? Certainly. Firstly, with proper scouting and coaching a team can acquire an excellent offensive tackle in the draft after the first round. Matt Light and Sebastian Vollmer in New England, Michael Roos in Tennessee, and Jason Peters in Philadelphia are All Pro tackles, none of whom was drafted in the first round. Secondly, offensive tackles drafted in the top five are not bust-proof. Just look at Robert Gallery, Levi Brown and Jason Smith, none of whom has worked out as an offensive tackle. Finally, free agency is another possible recourse for a team that needs a serious overhaul.

Last year’s Super Bowl made free agency a bad word. The all-knowing media decided that Green Bay and Pittsburgh reached the heights that they did due to an ideology that stressed building through the draft. Free agency was cast as a short-cut that could not substitute for the meticulous process of honing draftees and inoculating them with the team philosophy. This view is somewhat medieval. The Patriots have often gone outside the draft throughout their period of prosperity, picking up such productive players as Corey Dillon, Rodney Harrison, Randy Moss, and Wes Welker via trade or free agency. Ditto Baltimore, who has picked up Bryant McKinnie, Matt Birk, Anquan Boldin, and Bernard Pollard from other teams. The fact is the Vikings can and should use free agency to address some of their manifold needs.

Giant Jared in space

The question then becomes, can Wilf’s gang find someone to protect Ponder’s blindside in fee agency (or via trade) and then use the draft to some other end? The quick answer is yes they can. There are two main candidates. Behind door number one stands Jared Gaither, a 6’9 behemoth who disappointed twice, first when his 2010 season was wiped out due to back problems, and again when a costly penalty saw the Chiefs cut him in November this season. Nevertheless, he made good on the potential he flashed as a Raven by finishing the season strongly in San Diego with his “perfect game” against DPOY Terrell Suggs and his former team standing out in particular. Gaither is not only very talented, but also young at a mere twenty five years of age. Behind door number two, is Karl Malone’s lovechild Demetrius Bell who was instrumental in Buffalo’s hot start to the season, and ranks as ProFootballFocus’ most improved player in the AFC East. He is slightly older, at 27, and has a pockmarked health record. Conversely, he would probably be both cheaper and easier to sign. Both of these players could be a suitable alternative to drafting Mr. Kalil.

With multiple veterans hitting free agency, and more to either take a pay cut or be cut, the Vikings will certainly have ample cap space this year. Giving Gaither a fat contract and drafting Blackmon or trading down should be considered a very viable option. Of course, giving that cash to Dwayne Bowe and drafting Kalil or even Riley Reiff is another mouthwatering combination. In either case, it will be hard for the Vikings to regress, and the future looks bright(er). However, given the availability of talented offensive tackles in free agency, it is hard to ignore Justin Blackmon and the intangibles he could bring to this youthful-to-be squad. At this point, I think the front office should be granted good faith with regards to how they handle this team’s shortcomings. Speaking of shortcomings, Blackmon looks awful good. This fantasy will be further developed in a later post…

How far to Minnesota?

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5 Responses to “Matt Kalil & Common Sense”

  1. Skol12 says:

    What is with all this Justin Blackmon love? He has BUST written on his forehead. Morris Claiborne would be a much better pick, drafting RG3 to trade wouldn’t be a bad move either. Obviously is Kalil is gone we do whatever we can to move back but if we are stuck at 3 I think we get MC to line up next to Chris Cook or RG3 to trade for a kings ransom.

  2. Lost Viking says:

    How about Jeff Otah as a Left Tackle candidate (assuming he’s healthy)?

    Carolina will receive either 8th or 9th pick depending on the coin flip. They have Ryan Kalil at center and would love to combine a brother act.

    Assuming #8 cost to Panther to move up to # 3 would be Otah (say 3rd round value) plus their 2nd rounder (#40 = 500 points).

    With # 8 choice Viking might have choice of Reiff or Jonathan Martin. But don’t go looking for a long-term LT at the second round bargain rack. You’ll end up with another Ryan Cook or equivalent.

  3. Carter4HOF says:

    I do not see how Blackmon has bust written all over him. He won’t run a spectacular 40 yard dash, but his game has never been about being a burner. It is about good hands, sharp route running, body-control and fierce determination. Let’s call it, optimistically, Anquan Boldin meets Cris Carter. Claiborne would be a waste-Tampa 2 does not require players who can man-up with the best receivers. What Tampa 2 does require, and which nobody has mentioned, is a voracious pass rush, and Jared Allen alone cannot carry the whole unit. I guess the hope is that Griffen and Robison, in a rotation, and a fully healthy K-W carry the load.

  4. RandyRatio says:

    Trading for Otah seems like a very interesting possibility. Has any speculation been reported on this potential deal? How about using that 9th pick to nab David Decastro, and we can have our line set up for the next decade. I am afraid of leaving the top 5 though; either Blackmon or Kalil seem like sure fire stars.

  5. Purple Faithful says:

    I gotta say the article was a great read. I do not think championship teams are built by selecting offensive linemen in the top 5 or 10 selections. An offensive line is only as good as it’s weakest link & that is the place a defensive coordinator is likely to attack. Offensive linemen are support pieces, not playmakers, and at the top of the draft you need to identify the player that builds the best team, not just a guy who might get identified as a good left tackle later on. The last time the vikings drafted about this high they took a guy named Chris Doleman. I think we need to look carefully around and find the truly special player, not just draft a guy to throw in one of our holes. I do not like the conclusion, however. Justin Blackmon imo is not a big difference maker. He’s not Randy Moss or Calvin Johnson. I think guys like him can be found later in the draft who deliver similar results, but maybe in different ways. If there isn’t a Kevin Williams available, i wonder if we shouldn’t trade back. If we stand pat, or even trade back to about pick 8, i wonder if the guy we shouldn’t all start looking at isn’t Michael Brocker.

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