It’s too early to jump into the NFL Draft with both feet considering it’s only December… Please, we’ll reserve that for the months of February, March and April when the season is officially over. That being said, when big news comes along we’ll subtly work it into our blog.
According to Rob Rang of CBS Sports, who is one of the most respected NFL draft gurus in the business, USC left tackle Matt Kalil is “set to return” to school. Kalil is widely considered one of the best offensive lineman prospects not just in this year’s class, but of the last decade. He has light feet being able to keep up with and block speed rushers, great leverage, very long arms, prototypical size and a solid pedigree. Matt’s father Frank was a center for the Buffalo Bills in the early 80s and his 26-year-old brother Ryan is one of the best centers in the game having made two Pro Bowls. Kalil also is so talented that Tyron Smith played right tackle for USC when there and was selected 9th overall by the Dallas Cowboys in last year’s draft.
In the event that Kalil does indeed return to USC it would certainly give the Vikings less flexibility in the first round with many mock draft artists currently sending Kalil to the Vikings at 2nd overall. Quarterback Christian Ponder simply needs help along the line with Charlie Johnson being a one-year stopgap after Bryant McKinnie ate his way off the team in the preseason. Drafting Kalil could also allow Johnson to move to right guard and send Anthony Herrera packing.
Moving forward expect to see mock drafts giving the Vikings wide receiver Justin Blackmon of Oklahoma State or cornerback Morris Claiborne of LSU. Then there’s always the possibility of trading down if a team such as the Seahawks, Browns or Redskins is interested in moving up to select quarterback Robert Griffin III of Baylor. That could enable the Vikings to pick up an extra 2nd or 3rd round pick and possibly take left tackle Jonathan Martin of Stanford (who is not nearly in Kalil’s class, but is still a solid first rounder) or cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick of Alabama later in the 1st round.
Again, it’s too early to get too involved with NFL Draft hypotheticals. A handful of the guys you see in mock drafts will probably slide into the middle rounds by the time April comes along. But we’ll know soon enough if a sure-fire top five pick in Kalil declares for the draft or stays in school. For Vikings sake, lets hope he declares… Unless, of course, you also happen to be a USC alum.
Jon Merckle may be followed on Twitter @thevikingpig