After engineering a steal of a trade earlier this evening, landing three additional draft picks to move back one slot in the first round, the Vikings have made their first selection in the 2012 NFL Draft. With the No. 4 pick, general manager Rick Spielman has nabbed Southern Cal left tackle Matt Kalil.
The 6-foot-7, 306-pound lineman will immediately upgrade a Vikings offensive line which allowed 49 sacks last season. The hope is that Kalil's arrival will catalyze the development of young quarterback Christian Ponder.
"To have a quarterback not have to worry about that left side, to have the insurance that the left tackle is going to handle the speed rushers that we are going to face in this division helps that quarterback focus more on what is going to happen in the passing game down the field," Spielman said. "Maybe he's getting that extra time to find an open receiver. Hopefully Matt will help fulfill all that."
So what was the tiebreaker for Kalil after Spielman asserted Tuesday that the offensive lineman had the same grade on the Vikings' draft board as cornerback Morris Claiborne and receiver Justin Blackmon:?
"We saw him as a guy who could be a Pro Bowler for a long time," head coach Leslie Frazier said. "That was obvious from our standpoint. Along with the fact of our quarterback position, what we are trying to do with our quarterback, we wanted to make sure that we do the things that are necessary to ensure he has success."
Less than an hour before the draft began, the Vikings were also able to obtain additional picks in the fourth round, fifth round and seventh round from the Browns, who surrendered those picks to move up to No. 3 to grab Trent Richardson.