We take a break from free agency coverage here on the vikings.com Blog to talk NFL draft. Specifically, we’re going to take a closer look at the University of Southern California’s pro day, largely because LT Matt Kalil performed for scouts and is expected to be taken by the Vikings at #3, but also because there’s another USC Trojan that I’d like to see wind up playing for the Purple – DE Nick Perry.
We’ll start with Kalil, who is widely regarded as the best LT in this year’s draft class and who is the odds-on favorite to end up in Minnesota, assuming QBs Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III go 1st and 2nd, in some order. We posted a video provided to us by NFL Network on the home page of vikings.com, but I also wanted to go over the information here on the blog because it will generate some good discussion among readers and fans.
NFL Network’s Bucky Brooks was at the USC pro day and came away impressed with Kalil’s performance.
“I think he had an outstanding workout,” Brooks said. “I think he confirmed what we saw at the NFL Combine. He’s a fantastic left tackle, he’s a great technician, he has outstanding athleticism, the balance, the body control, the strength, you see all of those things when he works out.”
If drafted by the Vikings, Kalil will be called upon to protect QB Christian Ponder. But Brooks noted that one of the most impressive parts of Kalil’s pro day performance was his performance in running-game drills.
“I thought what was interesting when I looked at him [was] during the running game drills,” Brooks explained. “He has the ability to move in space. You can see that he can fit into a zone-based scheme that puts a premium on his ability to get out and lead block and make adjustments at the second level.
“I think there’s not a major, glaring weakness in his game and because of that, I think he’s safely atop the board as the number one offensive tackle.”
That’s all good news for the Vikings, in my opinion, because I expect Luck and RG3 to indeed go 1-2, which means Kalil will be on the board when the Vikings are on the clock at #3.
Aside from Brooks, NFL Network also had analysts Charley Casserly and Charles Davis comment on Kalil. As part of their analysis, a graphic appeared on the screen displaying a list of the LTs drafted in the Top 5 since 2007. The names on the list were: Trent Williams (Wash – 2010), Jason Smith (St. Louis – 2009), Jake Long (Mia – 2008), Joe Thomas (Cleve – 2007) and Levi Brown (Ari – 2007).
Casserly, who said Thomas was the best player on the list, said Kalil compared most to Williams in terms of athleticism, and he also said Kalil was a safer pick than Williams. Casserly was mostly positive on Kalil, saying he had no glaring weaknesses and should play for 10 years. Davis was also positive on Kalil.
“I like Matt Kalil a lot,” Davis commented, “[He] reminds me of his brother (Panthers C Ryan Kalil) in terms of movement skills…I thought both of them, at their respective Combines, showed their movement skills very well. Very light on their feet, very athletic.”
As for Perry, he’s an athletic DE who really looked good to me at the Combine. Having the 35th overall pick, the Vikings will be on the clock early in the 2nd round and I think they’ll have multiple players with 1st-round grades still on the board. I’m hoping Perry is one of them because he would add depth to the defensive line. While that’s not a position of need necessarily, I’m never against adding talent to the roster and I think Perry has a ton of talent.
“When I look at him, the things that I like [are] great first-step quickness, very explosive in the short area, can bend and burst and can do the things that you want to see from your pass rush,” Brooks said.
Brooks said Perry didn’t hurt his draft stock during the pro day and he expects most teams to grade him as a late 1st-round or early 2nd-round prospect; Casserly agreed. Davis, on the other hand, wondered aloud of teams in need of a pass rush might push Perry higher on their draft boards, resulting in Perry going in the late stages of the 1st round.
Overall, the USC pro day was good news for me because Kalil impressed observers and because Perry didn’t seem to jump off the charts at people, meaning he may slide a touch to the late stages of the 1st round. I came away from the Combine thinking the Vikings would have a nice find with Perry if he was available at #35, and I’ve come away from the USC pro day thinking that possibility was still in play. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not “all-in” on Perry, I just think he’s one of many good potential options for the Vikings at #35.
What do you think, Vikings fans? Let us know by sharing your thoughts in the comments section below this entry.
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