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

Steve JohnsonOct 12 07:12p

The San Diego Chargers have declared CB Craig Mager, DL Darius Philon, RB Donald Brown, OT King Dunlap, OG Orlando Franklin, WR Stevie Johnson, LB Tourek Williams inactive for Week 5.

B. RoethlisbergerOct 12 07:12p

The Pittsburgh Steelers have declared LB Anthony Chickillo, QB Ben Roethlisberger, OG Chris Hubbard, CB Cortez Allen, DL Daniel McCullers, TE Jesse James, LB Ryan Shazier inactive for Week 5.

Blake BortlesOct 12 03:22p

Updating previous reports, Jacksonville Jaguars QB Blake Bortles' (shoulder) sprained his throwing shoulder Sunday, Oct. 11, against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It is uncertain if Bortles will be able [ More ]

Josh McCownOct 12 03:12p

Updating a previous report, Cleveland Browns QB Josh McCown (ankle) suffered an ankle sprain in a Week 5 win against the Baltimore Ravens. He is hopeful he'll be able [ More ]

Marques ColstonOct 12 03:02p

New Orleans Saints WR Marques Colston (shoulder) has at least a separated shoulder and could have some structural damage in the shoulder, according to a source. Colston suffered the [ More ]

Antone SmithOct 12 03:02p

Free-agent RB Antone Smith (Falcons) signed with the Chicago Bears Monday, Oct. 12. Terms of the contract were not disclosed.

Jacquizz RodgersOct 12 02:52p

Chicago Bears RB Jacquizz Rodgers (arm) was placed on the Reserve/Injured list Monday, Oct.12, because of a fractured arm.

Dwight FreeneyOct 12 02:32p

Free-agent LB Dwight Freeney (Chargers) signed a one-year deal with the Arizona Cardinals Monday, Oct. 12, according to a source. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Odell Beckham Jr.Oct 12 02:22p

New York Giants WR Odell Beckham Jr. (hamstring) is dealing with a hamstring injury, but the team hopes he will be able to practice on at least a limited [ More ]

Marshawn LynchOct 12 02:02p

Seattle Seahawks RB Marshawn Lynch (hamstring) should be able to play in Week 6 against the Carolina Panthers if he doesn't suffer any setbacks this week, according to head coach Pete Carroll.

Blake BortlesOct 12 02:02p

Jacksonville Jaguars QB Blake Bortles (shoulder) likely will not participate in practice Wednesday, Oct. 14, but that should not indicate his status for the Week 6 game against the [ More ]

Blake BortlesOct 12 01:12p

Jacksonville Jaguars QB Blake Bortles (shoulder) suffered a Grade 1 shoulder sprain during the team's Week 5 game and his status will be updated later in the week, according to head coach Gus Bradley.

Charcandrick WestOct 12 12:52p

Kansas City Chiefs RBs Charcandrick West and Knile Davis both expect to split carries with RB Jamaal Charles (knee) expected to miss the rest of the season, and head [ More ]

Andrew LuckOct 12 12:52p

Indianapolis Colts QBs Andrew Luck (shoulder) and Matt Hasselbeck (illness) both practiced in full Monday, Oct. 12, according to head coach Chuck Pagano. Luck missed the last two weeks [ More ]

Matthew StaffordOct 12 11:22a

Detroit Lions QB Matthew Stafford will remain the starting quarterback, despite being benched in Week 5 Sunday, Oct. 11.

Josh JohnsonOct 12 11:12a

Indianapolis Colts QB Josh Johnson was released Monday, Oct. 12.

Dez BryantOct 12 10:22a

Dallas Cowboys WR Dez Bryant (foot) had bone marrow stem cells removed from his hip and injected into his ankle last week to help improve the healing process. The [ More ]

Matt CasselOct 12 02:02a

Dallas Cowboys QB Matt Cassel could get a chance in Week 7 after the team's bye, as head coach Jason Garrett said Sunday, Oct. 11, he will evaluate a [ More ]

Brandon WeedenOct 12 02:02a

Dallas Cowboys QB Brandon Weeden could be out as the team's starting quarterback, as head coach Jason Garrett said Sunday, Oct. 11, that he will evaluate a quarterback change during the team's bye week.

Matt JonesOct 12 02:02a

Washington Redskins RB Matt Jones (toe) suffered a sprained big toe in the Week 5 overtime loss against the Atlanta Falcons.

Josh McCownOct 12 01:52a

Cleveland Browns QB Josh McCown (ankle) suffered an ankle injury in the Week 5 win against the Baltimore Ravens. He was limping in the locker room after the game [ More ]

Shane VereenOct 12 01:22a

New York Giants RB Shane Vereen carried five times for 24 yards in the Week 5 game against the San Francisco 49ers and he added eight receptions for 86 yards with a touchdown.

Eli ManningOct 12 01:22a

New York Giants QB Eli Manning completed 41 of a career-high 54 pass attempts for 441 yards, three touchdowns and one interception in the Week 5 game against the San Francisco 49ers.

Odell Beckham Jr.Oct 12 01:22a

Updating a previous report, New York Giants WR Odell Beckham Jr. (hamstring) returned for the team's final drive in the fourth quarter in Week 5 against the San Francisco [ More ]

Anquan BoldinOct 12 01:12a

San Francisco 49ers WR Anquan Boldin reeled in eight receptions for 107 yards and a touchdown in the Week 5 game against the New York Giants. He was targeted a game-high 12 times.

Carlos HydeOct 12 01:12a

San Francisco 49ers RB Carlos Hyde (leg) carried 21 times for 93 yards and a touchdown in the Week 5 game against the New York Giants.

Colin KaepernickOct 12 01:12a

San Francisco 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick completed 23 of his 35 pass attempts for 262 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions in the Week 5 game against the New [ More ]

Andre WilliamsOct 12 01:12a

New York Giants RB Andre Williams carried three times for zero yards in the Week 5 game against the San Francisco 49ers and he had no receptions or targets.

Dion LewisOct 11 11:52p

New England Patriots RB Dion Lewis was on the field for 43 snaps against the Dallas Cowboys in Week 5, finishing with six carries for 34 yards and eight [ More ]

Darren McFaddenOct 11 11:42p

Dallas Cowboys RB Darren McFadden had a team-high nine catches for 62 yards and five carries for 16 yards in a 30-6 loss to the New England Patriots in Week 5.

Jamison CrowderOct 11 11:32p

Washington Redskins WR Jamison Crowder posted eight receptions for 87 yards in the Week 5 game against the Atlanta Falcons, cashing in all eight of his targets.

Emmanuel SandersOct 11 11:32p

Denver Broncos WR Emmanuel Sanders had nine catches for 111 yards in a 16-10 win over the Oakland Raiders in Week 5.

RSS Feeds

NFL News:
Player Notes:
Forum Posts:

© 2015 RealTime Fantasy Sports, Inc.
Email Us  ·  Call Us 636.447.1170  ·  Lost Password
Advertising represented by USA Today Sports Media Group