Matt Vensel is in his first year at the Star Tribune after covering the Ravens for the Baltimore Sun for six years. He is a Pittsburgh native and a Penn State grad. Follow him at @mattvensel.


Mark Craig has covered the NFL for 23 years, and the Vikings since 2003 for the Star Tribune. He is one of 44 Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors. Follow him at @markcraignfl.


Master Tesfatsion is the Star Tribune’s digital Vikings writer. He is a 2013 graduate of Arizona State and worked for mlb.com before arriving in Minneapolis. Follow him at @masterstrib.


NFL analyst: Matt Kalil is a technician, would be truly safe pick for Vikings

Posted by: under Vikings Updated: April 2, 2012 - 12:13 PM

Twenty-four days remain for the Vikings to gauge the true long-term value of using the No. 3 pick in this month’s draft on Southern Cal left tackle Matt Kalil. By now, General Manager Rick Spielman and his staff has a pretty comprehensive scouting report put together, Kalil’s agility and impressive footwork, his athleticism and nasty edge fully documented. But with so many positions to address to catalyze the rebuilding process, the Vikings will have to make sure Kalil is the player available at No. 3 who will have the greatest impact on the team’s future success.

 
To add to the ongoing analysis, former NFL quarterback and current SiriusXM radio host and analyst Jim Miller offered the Star Tribune his overall assessment of Kalil. The true upside in drafting Kalil, Miller said, is that he seems to be as close to a can’t-miss prospect as you’ll find in this draft. And for the Vikings, in need of stability on the offensive line, the selection of Kalil would allow them to address the left tackle position this month and then, if all goes according to plan, not have to worry about that slot for the next 10 or 12 years.
 
“The left tackle spot, when you go high there,” Miller said, “it’s been such a solid position to select in terms of value and the longevity of years. You think of some of the recent tackles picked that high, Joe Thomas and Jake Long, those are really solid players. So I think it comes down to the idea that a lot of teams feel safe with that left tackle selection.”
 
With a young quarterback in Christian Ponder and the obvious intrigue of playing a lot of two tight end sets with Kyle Rudolph and John Carlson, Miller believes the Vikings may try to first solidify their running game to take pressure off the passing attack. Kalil would certainly help in that area.
 
“He’s a great athlete,” Miller said. “He really can transition his feet and he moves really well laterally. Out at USC he played under 300 pounds. So he probably needs to beef up and get a little over 300 pounds [for the NFL]. But you don’t have to be 325. Kalil is such a good athlete, such a technician with how he performs. He really can react well, has a good punch, gets his hand on the opponent and he’s always squared up. And a lot of that again is his footwork and his base. For a guy that size to have that kind of athleticism, it’s intriguing. Because you need it. You have to have it at that position. And that young man has it.”
 
During his most productive NFL season in Chicago in 2001, Miller had Blake Brockermeyer, a first-round draft pick by Carolina in 1995, protecting his blindside. The comfort Brockermeyer provided was invaluable. And Miller sees at least a few shades of Brockermeyer in Kalil.
 
“Blake was a technician,” Miller said. “He wasn’t the 325-pound guy. He played a little over 300 pounds. But he had such good feet and was such a technician on where he was going to put his hands. And he was so good at reacting to the defensive ends. So let’s say the defensive end tries to fake a high pass rush and then, like a Dwight Freeney, has the spin move inside to come underneath, Blake could react really well because he was a good athlete. And even though he was slowing down when I played with him because of some banged up knees, he was such a technician and good at studying tape, that for me he was outstanding.”

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