After Trade With Cleveland, Vikings Take Matt Kalil #4 Overall in 2012 NFL Draft
By Dan Zinski
Rick Spielman just made a lot of fans happy by taking Matt Kalil with the #4 overall selection. What makes it even greater is that, in the process, he was able to trade down and acquire three more picks (though none in the second or third round as some hoped). That has to be considered a big move for Spielman who took a lot of heat this offseason for being quiet in free agency.
Morris Claiborne was reportedly also being considered by the Vikings with their first pick, but they did the right thing in taking Kalil instead. Last year, the Vikings were forced to part ways with Bryant McKinnie when he let his weight get out of hand. Charlie Johnson was tabbed to replace him but struggled mightily especially in pass protection. By year’s end it was painfully apparently that the Vikings needed to go in another direction at left tackle. When they ended up with the #3 overall pick, Kalil immediately became the fan favorite and the favorite of mockers everywhere.
As the offseason progressed however, speculation mounted that the Vikings weren’t entirely sold on Kalil. Or maybe they WERE sold on Kalil but simply believed trading down to acquire more picks was in the best interest of the organization. Or maybe Spielman really did like Claiborne as much as some reports suggested (in the end his Claiborne talk didn’t really get him anything, but it was worth a shot). When all was said and done a trade did happen but the Vikings still left themselves in position to take Kalil. By drafting the tackle, the brain trust elected to plug arguably the biggest hole on the roster with arguably the best non-QB player in the draft.
Kalil gives the Vikings probably the best left tackle they’ve had since Gary Zimmerman (if he can surpass Todd Steussie and McKinnie, which shouldn’t be too hard). If he maxes out, he could be a Pro Bowler many times over. Even if he doesn’t max out he will solidify the position and make life lots easier for Christian Ponder. The debate raged all offseason about which would help Ponder’s development more: a #1 receiver or a top-notch blind side protector. The truth is, Ponder needed both. Now he at least has one of the two. A #1 receiver can possibly be found later in the draft, or maybe someone already on the Vikings roster will grow into that role, or maybe we’ll have to wait till next year.
Bottom line is, the Kalil pick makes the Vikings better right away. AND they got more picks in the process. Rick Spielman keeps this up and people still stop making fun of him.
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