2014 DRAFT GUIDE
Vikings trade down, draft left tackle Matt Kalil

By DAVE CAMPBELL - AP Sports Writer
    2012-04-26 23:06

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. (AP) - The Minnesota Vikings inched down one spot, and then they jumped up and joined in again before the first round was finished. When the night was done, they could not have felt better about their haul.

The Vikings took massive left tackle Matt Kalil from USC on Thursday to solidify their offensive line and provide their young quarterback some protection, and after their second trade on the opening day of the NFL draft they selected Notre Dame safety Harrison Smith to continue the resuscitation of their depleted secondary.

``Wow. This is pretty good,'' a smiling head coach Leslie Frazier said.

The Vikings dealt their third overall pick to the Browns for the fourth overall selection plus Cleveland's picks in the fourth (118th overall), fifth (139th) and seventh (211th) rounds. The Browns wanted Alabama running back Trent Richardson, so the Vikings knew they could still get Kalil.

Concerned about the lack of quality safeties in this year's crop, the Vikings found another trade partner in Baltimore, acquiring the 29th overall selection and sending their second-round (35th overall) and fourth-round (98th) picks to the Ravens.

``This is what makes the draft so fun,'' general manager Rick Spielman said.

With quarterbacks Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III already spoken for, the Vikings held the early key to the draft. The calls came, Spielman said, a couple of hours before the draft began. The Vikings refused to move below the fifth spot, to ensure they'd still have either Kalil, LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne or Oklahoma State wide receiver Justin Blackmon.

So after all the months of speculation and rumors, the Vikings wound up with the player they were widely projected to take first all along - the player they've clearly coveted for a while and one who will give Christian Ponder beef on his blind side. Spielman insisted the team had Kalil, Claiborne and Blackmon graded equally, but the Vikings couldn't pass on Kalil.

This draft is deep in wide receivers and cornerbacks. Plenty of them will be around later. Elite left tackles are also rarely available as free agents, making the top of the first round the ideal place to find one.

``I really couldn't picture myself any other place,'' Kalil said, describing the relief of seeing a Minnesota area code on his phone.

Long arms. Big hands. Tall frame. Mobile body. Strong bloodline. Hard worker. Nasty streak. Those are the prevailing descriptions of Kalil, a bearded, imposing-looking guy whose older brother, Ryan, is a Pro Bowl center for the Carolina Panthers. His father, Frank, once played in the USFL.

``He has all the ingredients,'' Frazier said.

Kalil needs to muscle up, improve his run blocking and hold his ground more consistently against bull-rushing defensive ends. The one knock against him in the obsessively detailed world of NFL pre-draft scouting is lower-body strength. But Lane Kiffin, his head coach at USC, called that criticism unfair because of how tall and athletic he is.

``You don't want to sacrifice weight for speed,'' Kalil said, repeating advice from his father.

Kiffin, who was raised in Minnesota himself, said that Kalil has already purchased a Ford truck.

``That's what you're getting. He's not going to get a sports car. Just a good o-lineman,'' Kiffin said.

The Vikings haven't selected in the top three since 1968, when they drafted offensive tackle Ron Yary first overall. Yary, another USC product, is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

The 6-foot-7, 310-pound Kalil left college after his junior year, giving the Vikings an obvious upgrade for their offensive line. Charlie Johnson, the left tackle last season, will move to left guard. John Sullivan is set at center and Phil Loadholt is established at right tackle, leaving a competition at right guard with Geoff Schwartz and Brandon Fusco the favorites.

Kalil not only will instantly improve a critical position, but he ought to be able to block the league's best defensive ends and outside linebackers one-on-one without needing chip help from a tight end. That will free more targets for Ponder.

There will be growing pains, of course, as Frazier reminded.

``I think Jared Allen going against him every day is going to help school and educate and hopefully make that process go quicker,'' Spielman said.

But Kalil isn't lacking confidence.

``When I left USC, I think I was ready to take on this role,'' Kalil said.

Smith will fill a glaring need at an important position and almost certainly be an instant starter. The 6-foot-2, 213-pound Smith was a four-year starter for the Fighting Irish who spent about one-third of his college career as an outside linebacker. All seven of his interceptions for Notre Dame came during his junior season.

What happened his senior year?

``I dropped a couple,'' Smith said.

He was also in man-to-man coverage a lot. The Vikings weren't worried about that, either.

``He's played on a big stage and made terrific plays against top competition,'' Spielman said.

The only other safety on the roster with significant experience is returning starter Jamarca Sanford. Husain Abdullah became an unrestricted free agent, but he's coming off a concussion. Spielman said a determination has not yet been made whether the Vikings will bring Abdullah back.

Smith was a two-time team captain at Notre Dame. He'll join former Fighting Irish stars Sullivan, John Carlson and Kyle Rudolph with the Vikings.

``I think we've reached our quota,'' Spielman said, jokingly.

But playing for Notre Dame, for those who do, is serious business.

``The sense of pride that I have for the school and for the guys I played with .... means a lot to me,'' Smith said.

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

David WilsonJul 31 12:01p

New York Giants RB David Wilson (neck) 'needs a miracle' from his surgeon's evaluation to be able to continue his playing career, according to a source.

David WilsonJul 31 11:52a

New York Giants RB David Wilson (neck) attended team meetings Thursday, July 31, and appeared ready to go, according to RB Rashad Jennings.

Brent UrbanJul 31 11:42a

Baltimore Ravens DE Brent Urban (knee) suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament during practice Wednesday, July 30, and will miss the entire 2014 season.

Lance LouisJul 31 11:32a

Indianapolis Colts OG Jack Mewhort appears to be the leading candidate for the starting left guard job. OG Lance Louis is also considered a candidate for the job.

Donald ThomasJul 31 11:22a

Indianapolis Colts OG Donald Thomas (quadriceps) is scheduled to undergo season-ending quadriceps surgery and will be placed on the Reserve/Injured list, according to head coach Chuck Pagano.

Nick BarnettJul 31 11:12a

Free-agent LB Nick Barnett (Redskins) is still an option for the Atlanta Falcons depending on what happens with the team's linebackers. The Falcons worked out Barnett in June but did not sign him.

Josh GordonJul 31 10:42a

Cleveland Browns WR Josh Gordon is not practicing Thursday, July 31, and presumably will miss practice Friday, Aug. 1, to attend his suspension appeal hearing.

Eric BerryJul 31 10:32a

Kansas City Chiefs SS Eric Berry (leg, foot) was carted off at practice Thursday, July 31, with a right leg or foot injury. SS Jerron McMillian has taken his place.

Jordan TodmanJul 31 09:52a

Jacksonville Jaguars RB Toby Gerhart is expected to be spelled by RBs Jordan Todman, Denard Robinson and Storm Johnson so he doesn't reach the 300-carry plateau.

Morgan BurnettJul 31 09:42a

Green Bay Packers FS Morgan Burnett (ankle) and SS Tanner Miller (undisclosed) are not practicing Thursday, July 31.

Micah HydeJul 31 09:42a

Green Bay Packers FS Ha Ha Clinton-Dix is working with the first-team defense at strong safety beside FS Micah Hyde Thursday, July 31.

Lardarius WebbJul 31 09:23a

Baltimore Ravens CB Lardarius Webb (back), DE Brent Urban (knee), DT Timmy Jernigan (back), OG Will Rackley (concussion) and WR Jeremy Butler (undisclosed) are out of practice Thursday, July [ More ]

Terrell SuggsJul 31 09:03a

Baltimore Ravens LB Terrell Suggs, DT Haloti Ngata and LB Daryl Smith are not practicing Thursday, July 31.

Nate GarnerJul 31 08:53a

Miami Dolphins C Nate Garner is working with the first-team offense again Thursday, July 31, over C Shelley Smith.

A.J. HawkJul 31 01:53a

Green Bay Packers LB Brad Jones has been working ahead of LB A.J. Hawk as the lone linebacker in the dime defense in practice.

Matt CasselJul 31 01:53a

Minnesota Vikings QB Teddy Bridgewater saw reps with the first-team offense in practice Wednesday, July 30. According to NFL Network's Albert Breer, QB Matt Cassel appears to lead the [ More ]

Christian PonderJul 31 01:53a

Minnesota Vikings QB Christian Ponder's reps were cut during practice Wednesday, July 30.

Josh GordonJul 30 11:43p

Cleveland Browns WR Josh Gordon is in Stage III of the NFL's substance-abuse program, and a positive test automatically triggers a one-year suspension. For Gordon, only two options exist: [ More ]

Rod StreaterJul 30 11:43p

Oakland Raiders WR Rod Streater (concussion) participated in warmups and drills Wednesday, July 30, but he sat out team sessions. Streater suffered a concussion Monday, July 28, and has [ More ]

Joique BellJul 30 10:23p

Detroit Lions RB Joique Bell (knee) missed organized team activities (OTAs) and minicamp while recovering from a knee injury, but he looked good cutting and accelerating with ease during [ More ]

Rob SimsJul 30 10:23p

Detroit Lions OG Rob Sims (knee) missed organized team activities (OTAs) and minicamp while recovering from a knee injury, but he held his own working against DT Nick Fairley [ More ]

Allen RobinsonJul 30 10:13p

Updating a previous report, Jacksonville Jaguars WR Allen Robinson (and fellow rookie WR Marqise Lee) have seen plenty of opportunity at training camp with WR Cecil Shorts (hamstring) and [ More ]

Marqise LeeJul 30 10:13p

Jacksonville Jaguars WR Marqise Lee (and fellow rookie WR Allen Robinson) have seen more reps in training camp with WR Cecil Shorts (hamstring) and WR Ace Sanders (personal) sidelined. [ More ]

Carl NicksJul 30 08:03p

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers officially released OG Carl Nicks (toe) Wednesday, July 30, with an injury settlement.

David WilsonJul 30 06:43p

New York Giants RB David Wilson (neck) tweeted that he is fine after leaving practice early Tuesday, July 29. Wilson said he passed all physical examinations and will find out more Monday, Aug. 3.

Jim LeonhardJul 30 05:53p

The Cleveland Browns signed SS Jim Leonhard (Bills) Wednesday, July 30. Terms of the contract were not disclosed.

Aldon SmithJul 30 04:43p

San Francisco 49ers LB Aldon Smith is not participating in practice Wednesday, July 30, as he attends a hearing at the Los Angeles City Attorney's office regarding an April [ More ]

Fred JacksonJul 30 04:13p

The Buffalo Bills have signed RB Fred Jackson to a one-year contract extension. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Jason GarrettJul 30 03:23p

Updating a previous report, Dallas Cowboys DE Demarcus Lawrence (foot) will undergo surgery for a broken foot Thursday, July 31, according to head coach Jason Garrett.

LaMichael JamesJul 30 03:03p

San Francisco 49ers RB LaMichael James (elbow) will wear a brace on his dislocated elbow and should be ready for the start of the regular season, according to head coach Jim Harbaugh.

Brent UrbanJul 30 02:23p

Baltimore Ravens DE Brent Urban (leg) and DT Timmy Jernigan (back) appear to have suffered injuries during practice Wednesday, July 30. Urban was helped off the field after suffering the injury.

Tyron SmithJul 30 02:03p

Dallas Cowboys OT Tyron Smith has agreed to terms with the team on an eight-year contract extension worth $98 million, according to a source.

RSS Feeds

NFL News:
 
Player Notes:
 
Forum Posts:
 

© 2014 RealTime Fantasy Sports, Inc.
Email Us  ·  Call Us 636.447.1170  ·  Lost Password
Advertising represented by USA Today Sports Media Group