NFL draft preview: offensive linemen

  • Article by: MARK CRAIG , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 19, 2012 - 6:37 AM

How important is a left tackle in a team's long-term success?

Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman has gone out of his way on several occasions to suggest that left tackle might be a lower priority than offensive playmaker when the team selects third overall in next week's NFL draft.

It goes against conventional thinking and raises the suspicion that Spielman is simply trying to drum up trade partners by keeping the teams behind him guessing. The truth will be revealed soon enough, but most people aren't buying it because, well, most people still think the Vikings will select Southern California left tackle Matt Kalil.

Considered the best non-quarterback prospect in the draft, Kalil is a perfect fit at a perfect time in Minnesota. The Vikings pulled the trigger on a young franchise quarterback when they selected Christian Ponder 12th overall a year ago. But then they jettisoned veteran left tackle Bryant McKinnie, the ninth overall pick in 2002, and turned his vital job over to Charlie Johnson, a free agent that the Colts didn't even try to re-sign.

Pairing Ponder and Kalil together now could allow them a decade or more to grow together. It would also enable the Vikings to further strengthen a rebuilt offensive line by sliding Johnson to guard, where he's better suited to play.

The Vikings' level of success in the near future depends on Ponder's development. It doesn't take an expert to figure out how Kalil could help in that process.

"Give him time to throw," Kalil told the Star Tribune on Sunday. "Honestly. It's that simple. It's about making that quarterback feel more comfortable in the pocket, that he can trust that he can get that extra read and get that extra second knowing he's not going to be getting hit from behind or speared in the back. I think a quarterback's confidence is everything."

Spielman has said a "functional" left tackle might have the same value. But will he prove it by passing on Kalil?

THE FRONTRUNNER

Matt Kalil, OT, USC

He's 6-7, 306 pounds and is already considered to have the strength and agility of an NFL- caliber left tackle. Universally considered to be the best available player after quarterbacks Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III.

THE CONTENDERS

Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa

Could be an option at left tackle if the Vikings opt to trade down. But don't go too far, Vikes. Reiff won't stay on the board for long. He's a 6-6, 313-pounder who also has the technique and look of a bona fide NFL left tackle.

David DeCastro, G, Stanford

Could be the third Cardinal to go in the first round after Luck and left tackle Jonathan Martin. DeCastro (6-5, 316) is considered a punishing run blocker with a nasty side. And he went to Stanford, so he can pass block, too.

Peter Konz, C, Wisconsin

The Badgers' 6-5, 314-pounder is considered the top center available. He's a probable second-round pick, but might slip into the first round. The Ravens (No. 29) could use him at guard until Matt Birk retires.

THE SLEEPER

Tom Compton, South Dakota

A graduate of Rosemount High School, Compton started all four years at South Dakota. The 6-5, 314-pounder, a first-team All-America in the Football Championship Subdivision, is considered a late-round project.

Today is Day 4 of the Star Tribune's position-by-position preview of the NFL draft April 26-28 in New York City.

Today: offensive linemen

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Houston 2 FINAL
St. Louis 5
Washington 9 FINAL
Atlanta 8
Miami 5 FINAL
Boston 3
Minnesota 1 FINAL
Tampa Bay 2
NY Yankees 4 FINAL
Philadelphia 1
Baltimore 4 FINAL
Toronto 5
Detroit - LP: J. Mantiply 4 FINAL
NY Mets - WP: C. Torres 5
Cincinnati 1 Top 7th Inning
Chicago Cubs 1
Los Angeles 8 Top 7th Inning
Milwaukee 0
San Francisco 9 Top 8th Inning
Texas 0
Chicago WSox 0 Bottom 7th Inning
San Diego 3
Kansas City 10 Top 6th Inning
Cleveland 5
Seattle 4 Top 8th Inning
Los Angeles 7
Colorado 0 Bottom 7th Inning
LA Angels 3
Oakland 4 Top 6th Inning
Arizona 1
Pittsburgh 6:05 PM
NY Yankees
Chicago 6:00 PM
Indiana
Sacramento 6:00 PM
Orlando
Utah 6:00 PM
Philadelphia
Miami 6:00 PM
Washington
Toronto 6:00 PM
Charlotte
Cleveland 6:30 PM
Atlanta
Boston 7:00 PM
New Orleans
Detroit 7:00 PM
Houston
LA Lakers 7:00 PM
Memphis
Phoenix 7:00 PM
Brooklyn
Denver 7:30 PM
San Antonio
Dallas 9:30 PM
Golden State
Columbus 6:00 PM
New Jersey
Minnesota 6:00 PM
Carolina
Buffalo 6:30 PM
Ottawa
Calgary 6:30 PM
Detroit
Edmonton 7:30 PM
Chicago
Pittsburgh 9:00 PM
Anaheim
Longwood 68 FINAL
Char Southern 60
Ark-Pine Bluff 94 FINAL
Miss Valley St 75
Southern Ill 45 FINAL
Wichita State 56
Winthrop 67 FINAL
Radford 66
Evansville 46 2nd Half 8:50
Illinois State 51
Towson 5:00 PM
Elon
Gardner-Webb 5:00 PM
High Point
Samford 5:00 PM
UNC Greensboro
Northern Ill 6:00 PM
Ball State
Bowling Green 6:00 PM
Buffalo
Brown 6:00 PM
Dartmouth
Toledo 6:00 PM
Eastern Mich
Akron 6:00 PM
Kent State
Ill-Chicago 6:00 PM
Oakland
Miami-Ohio 6:00 PM
Ohio
Columbia 6:00 PM
Penn
Cornell 6:00 PM
Princeton
Central Mich 6:00 PM
Western Mich
Bradley 6:05 PM
Northern Iowa
Morehead State 6:30 PM
Murray State
UNC-Asheville 7:00 PM
Coastal Carolina
Yale 7:00 PM
Harvard
Furman 7:30 PM
Citadel
Coll of Charleston 7:30 PM
Drexel
Texas Tech 8:00 PM
Baylor
Pacific 8:00 PM
San Francisco
Detroit 8:30 PM
Cleveland State
Belmont 8:30 PM
Eastern Ky
Loyola-Chicago 8:35 PM
Indiana State
Loyola Marymount 10:30 PM
Santa Clara
Chicago 9:00 PM
Los Angeles
Saint Louis 63 FINAL
(21) George Washington 77
Wake Forest 68 FINAL
(16) Duke 77
Furman 55 FINAL
(17) Chattanooga 68
Monmouth 61 FINAL
Quinnipiac 82
Michigan State 60 FINAL
(4) Maryland 70
Belmont 65 FINAL
UT Martin 71
Arkansas 36 FINAL
(3) South Carolina 58
Mercer 56 FINAL
East Tenn St 66
Richmond 45 FINAL
Fordham 46
Miami-Florida 61 FINAL
(2) Notre Dame 77
Siena 61 FINAL
Iona 71
Washington St 48 FINAL
(9) Arizona State 67
Ark-Pine Bluff 63 FINAL
Miss Valley St 51
(23) Rutgers 57 FINAL
(24) Northwestern 62
Tennessee St 71 FINAL
SIU-Edwardsville 59
Loyola Marymount 50 FINAL
Gonzaga 70
(18) Texas A&M 60 2nd Half 1:18
LSU 63
Cincinnati 62 2nd Half 7:23
UCF 48
Saint Josephs 33 2nd Half
Dayton 44
UCLA 13 1st Half 11:13
(19) Stanford 16
Santa Clara 4:30 PM
San Diego
Virginia Tech 5:00 PM
(7) Florida State
SMU 5:00 PM
Memphis
Lehigh 5:05 PM
Holy Cross
Rhode Island 6:00 PM
Duquesne
North Florida 6:00 PM
(20) Fla Gulf Coast
Kennesaw St 6:00 PM
Jacksonville
USC Upstate 6:00 PM
Northern Ky
Lipscomb 6:00 PM
Stetson
Nebraska 6:00 PM
(14) Iowa
Saint Peters 6:00 PM
Marist
Navy 6:00 PM
Bucknell
Lafayette 6:00 PM
American Univ
Colgate 6:00 PM
Army
Georgia 6:00 PM
(5) Tennessee
Dartmouth 6:00 PM
Brown
Penn 6:00 PM
Columbia
(13) Princeton 6:00 PM
Cornell
Kansas 6:00 PM
Kansas State
Harvard 6:00 PM
Yale
(15) North Carolina 7:00 PM
(10) Louisville
San Jose St 7:00 PM
UNLV
Houston 7:00 PM
Tulane
Utah State 8:00 PM
Colorado State
Colorado 8:00 PM
(8) Oregon State
New Mexico 8:00 PM
Wyoming
Minnesota 8:25 PM
Ohio State
(12) Kentucky 8:25 PM
(11) Miss State
San Diego State 8:30 PM
Nevada
Niagara 8:30 PM
Fairfield
Texas Tech 8:30 PM
West Virginia
Boise State 9:00 PM
Fresno State
Washington 10:30 PM
California
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Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis NoonX34-6
Sep 14 - vs. New England NoonX30-7
Sep 21 - at New Orleans NoonX20-9
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pmX41-28
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pmX42-10
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit NoonX17-3
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo NoonX17-16
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay NoonX19-13 ot
Nov 2 - vs. Washington NoonX29-26
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago NoonX21-13
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay NoonX24-21
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina NoonX31-13
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets NoonX30-24 ot
Dec 14 - at Detroit 3:25 pmX16-14
Dec 21 - at Miami NoonX37-35
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago NoonX13-9

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