On an action-packed draft night during which the Vikings secured valuable reinforcement for their offensive line, the name of defensive end Jared Allen sure seemed to pop up often.
The hope at Winter Park: that new left tackle Matt Kalil, Thursday’s first addition to the Viking family, will see his development accelerated significantly through daily exposure to the NFL’s reigning sack king.
“One of the good things about Matt coming to our team is he’ll get a chance to face arguably the best defensive end in the National Football League day in and day out in practice,” head coach Leslie Frazier said. “That’s going to be a great part of his prep in getting him prepared for what he’s going to see on Sunday afternoons.”
Rick Spielman, the team’s general manager, also asserted his belief that Allen’s presence will provide a positive motivational experience.
Said Kalil: “The competitor I am, I know that Jared will help make me a great player. Especially the division the Vikings are in – with the Chicago Bears and going against Julius Peppers plus my old teammate, Clay Matthews, going against him in Green Bay. It’s definitely a league of great pass rushers and great defensive ends. So it’s going to be good going against the greatest defensive end in the NFL in Jared Allen. I’m very excited for that.”
Southern California dreaming: Kalil is the fifth player the Vikings have drafted in the first round out of Southern Cal. The others: Ron Yary (first overall in 1968); Steve Riley (25th in 1974); Joey Browner (19th in 1983); and Kenechi Udeze (20th in 2004).
Yary, of course, was the No. 1 pick in 1968. He played for 14 seasons, played 199 games and made 180 starts and helped the Vikings reach four Super Bowls.
What’s next?: Barring any additional trades, the Vikings will have only one pick Friday evening, the third choice in the third round. Over the last 10 years, notable players taken at No. 66 in the past decade include defensive tackle Cory Redding (Detroit, 2003); center Nick Hardwick (San Diego, 2004) and offensive tackle Eric Winston (Houston, 2006).