After a trade with the Cleveland Browns, the Minnesota Vikings took Matt Kalil, an offensive tackle from USC. The team has been mired in discussions with state and city government on getting a new stadium, so good news in the draft is welcome.
Right now, Matt Kalil is a just-short-from-finished prospect with a great deal of stuff on the ball and the potential to overcome the liabilities he shows on tape. He's already got Step 1 covered, which is the realization that things are not quite perfect in the run game.
"For me, it's just that I'm so dominant in pass protection, it kinda overshadows my run game," Kalil told me last week. "I feel that my run-blocking was pretty effective during the while season, but as an offensive lineman and as a football player, you always want to improve. I have done a lot of things this offseason -- working on leverage and footwork. When it comes time for training camp, I think the coaches will see the improvement in my run blocking. It wasn't a weakness, but it wasn't one of my strengths. But it's definitely something I've been working on, and it shouldn't be a problem at the next level."
That word "dominant" is kind of a bugaboo with Kalil. He does many things very well, but the overall lack of pure physical domination is something that could see him struggle at the next level. There were just too many times on tape where I watched Kalil make fools of guys you'd expect to look foolish -- college defenders who are either underdeveloped for the grind of the NFL, and some players who don't look like NFL material at all. The bloodline stuff is interesting and gives him advantages in some ways; Kalil is strong in many of the fine points you never see from some tackles of any stripe. If he can become stronger in the literal sense on a play-to-play basis, we may have a multi-year Pro Bowler here. He's just not there yet.
Barring some kind of last-minute weirdness, I believe that Kalil will be selected in the first five picks, and that the projection fits. It does seem that at the eleventh hour, people are over-dinging him for the stuff he doesn't do well, and forgetting the things that can make him a foundation player in most any franchise.