04/30/2012 - Basically, Rick Spielman couldn't have had a better start to his first draft as Vikings general manager. Moments before the draft, he got three picks for nothing when he moved down one spot, allowing the Browns to take running back Trent Richardson, a player the Vikings didn't want or need. Spielman then selected Southern California left tackle Matt Kalil, the player he coveted all along at a position of gigantic need. Then, with a league-high 13 picks, Spielman turned around and upgraded another massive need by trading back into the first round to take the second-best safety, Notre Dame's Harrison Smith, with the 29th overall pick. Within a span of 25 picks, the Vikings had significantly strengthened their two weakest areas - offensive line and secondary - with two first-round picks. In the third round, the Vikings then grabbed some quality cornerback depth and the heir apparent to Antoine Winfield when they selected Central Florida's Josh Robinson, who ran a Combine-best 4.29 40-yard dash. They addressed their need at receiver by taking Arkansas teammates Jarius Wright and Greg Childs in the fourth round. More secondary help came in the fifth round when Spielman took Notre Dame's 6-1, 208-pound hybrid corner/safety. A somewhat puzzling pick came in the sixth round when Spielman took Georgia kicker Blair Walsh. There was no indication that veteran Ryan Longwell was in trouble, but he does turn 38 soon and is coming off a season in which he missed six field-goal attempts (22 of 28). BEST PICK: Left tackle Matt Kalil: He was the best and safest pick at a position of great need and importance to second-year quarterback Christian Ponder's development. Nothing else the team does matters if Ponder isn't well protected. - The Sports Xchange
Based on family history, Matt Kalil was destined to be an outstanding physical specimen. His father was a pro football player, his brother is a starter in the NFL and his mother was Miss California.
Now pro scouts say he soon may be regarded as the best in the family, not counting mom of course, although Matt was recognized by Playboy Magazine himself - as a 2011 Preseason All American.
"Genetics are obviously a huge part," acknowledged Pittsburgh Steelers General Manager Kevin Colbert, who considered Kalil's situation similar to that of the NFL's famous Mathews family, which begat current Green Bay Packers linebacker, Clay, and tracks back three generations to grandfather Clay (49ers in 1950s) and includes uncle Bruce (Houston Oilers/Tennessee Titans 1983-2001; Pro Football Hall of Fame).
Matt's father, Frank, was drafted by the Buffalo Bills and played for the USFL's Arizona Wranglers and Houston Gamblers. Matt's older brother Ryan was a star center at USC (2003-2006) and after being drafted in the second round by the Carolina Panthers has become one of the best centers in the NFL.
Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman says Kalil is not only the best tackle the draft, but he has a nasty temperament to go with his physical abilities that could make him one of the best in the NFL and, oh yes, possible best in the family.
Matt credits his father for instilling him with work ethic and technique to enhance his bloodlines.
"Hours on end of going to the park and working on technique," Kalil said when asked what he remembered about getting help from his father. "Watching film in high school and coming home on weekends during college and going over film with my dad. That's what he taught us, there's always something you can improve. You strive for perfection, but you never get there."
NFL scouts believe he is as close to perfect as they can expect and one of the most complete offensive tackles to come out of college since USC's Tony Boselli, who was the second player selected in the 1995 draft by the Jacksonville Jaguars. Not a relative, but a highly-regarded alumn.
Pass blocking: Eases out of his stance, showing good patience to allow defenders to come to him. Plays with textbook balance and technique: knees bent, shoulders square and on the balls of his feet. Has good arm length and upper-body strength to steer defenders aside. Has the power and agility to mirror and when he sets his hands, it's generally game over. Has a tendency to be lazy fundamentally and is susceptible to elite lateral agility. Good recognition skills.
Run blocking: Fires off the snap. Has a prototypical build and strength of an NFL offensive lineman. Maintains good pad level and has the strength in his upper body and leg drive to knock his opponent off the ball. Quick to the second level. Flashes some nastiness to pancake off-balance opponents.
Pulling/trapping: Limited experience, unlimited potential in this area. Comfortable on the hoof, showing plenty of athleticism and recognition to handle blocking in space. Effective, experienced trap blocker.
Initial Quickness: Decent initial quickness and a smooth, patient style about him when in pass protection. Rarely allows an outside pressure despite operating against hybrid fronts and many undersized pass rushers. Has good quickness off the snap when run blocking, though his strength and hand placement are more critical to his success.
Downfield: Finds his assignment quickly with good enough lateral agility and balance on the move to blast through target with an emphatic punch. Scouts would like to see more of a fiery, typical o-line temperament. Seems content to do enough to win the one-on-one matchup when he could wipe out defenders.
Intangibles: Younger brother (Ryan) and father (Frank) played D-I college football (Ryan at USC, Frank at Arkansas, Arizona) and in the NFL. Played special teams and blocked five kicks over the past two seasons, including four in 2011.