It was pretty well-known that the three biggest positions of need for the Minnesota Vikings were at offensive tackle, wide receiver and in the secondary heading into the offseason. Thanks to last season's disaster, the Vikings found themselves in a position to take an elite player at any one of those spots with the third overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft.
The majority of the NFL mock drafts projected the Vikings might get stuck with an offensive lineman, not the sexiest position in football, but certainly a position of need for Minnesota. However, after the first couple of workouts at the NFL Combine, things appear to have crystallized when looking at which direction the Vikings should go when the Draft happens in April.
Baylor Bears quarterback Robert Griffin III wowed everybody with his workouts in Indianapolis, running some amazingly fast 40-yard dash times and impressing people in the interview room as well. That all but assured that he and Stanford Cardinal quarterback Andrew Luck will be the first two picks in the draft, considering the rumors are already flying fast and furious about teams wanting to move up to the St. Louis Rams' spot at No. 2 in order to make that happen.
The rise of RG3 should lead to the Vikings having the right to pick the best non-quarterback in the Draft and, on Saturday, it was made clear exactly who that player was ... and he just happens to play one of those positions at which the Vikings need help.
Matt Kalil, an offensive tackle who spent his college career playing for the USC Trojans, was incredibly impressive during his Combine workouts on Saturday. He didn't have to do all of the drills considering he was already considered a lock to go in the top five picks before Saturday, but he fully participated anyway while wowing scouts with his athleticism.
The big man ran a sub-five second 40-yard dash -- posting the second-fastest speed for offensive linemen -- a feat made all the more impressive considering he measured in just a shade under 6'7 and weighing 306 pounds. Oh, and he also bench pressed 225 pounds 30 times.
The Vikings are in rebuilding mode and one of the first cornerstones of any rebuilding team should be the left tackle position. "Franchise" caliber left tackles aren't something other teams just leave lying around for other teams to acquire. A team needs to get acquire one early, develop him and then hold on while reaping the benefits for the rest of his career (see: Orlando Pace or Walter Jones). Kalil appears to have the ability to be the type of player that could be a cornerstone for the Vikings over the next 12 years, so it makes quite a bit of sense to grab him if he's there for the taking.
Kalil should be able to step in and start immediately at left tackle, thereby protecting Christian Ponder's blind side along with upgrading the position that was held by Charlie Johnson in last year's offense. All isn't lost for Johnson, however, as he should still be able to find ways to contribute on the line.
Johnson is far better suited to line up at guard rather than tackle, and the acquisition of Kalil would allow him to do just that, filling in either at the left guard spot (if Steve Hutchinson doesn't return for the 2012 season) or the right guard spot (since it doesn't appear that incumbent Anthony Herrera will be back).
The Vikings' offensive line would be vastly better with Kalil in the mix, Johnson at his more natural position and the rapidly improving John Sullivan at center. As a bonus, it seems that mixture on the line might also have a ripple effect of improvement on the entire offense.
It's unfortunate that the Vikings won't be able to take advantage of their draft position, allowing them to harvest the bounty of picks it appears the Rams are in for from whichever team wants to draft a quarterback. If quarterbacks are going to go with the top two picks, the Minnesota Vikings would be foolish to not grab Matt Kalil and build their offense on his shoulders. He's at worst a pretty nifty consolation prize and should be a no-brainer selection for the Vikings with the third pick in the 2012 NFL Draft.
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