Thursday, April 26, 2012

National Friday League: Keeping an Even Kalil

Matt Kalil
There's not much more boring than drafting an offensive lineman with a top-5 pick.  Matt Kalil will never have a statistic on the back of his football card.  If he has a successful career with the Vikings, during his best games you may not even notice that he was on the field.  But a lot of boring things are actually quite necessary to making good things happen.

Is there another player that would so immediately impact the Vikings as OT Matt Kalil?  If he is as good as a top-5 lineman is supposed to be, he instantly transforms the Viking offensive line, which instantly elevates the Viking offense.  Last season the Viking quarterbacks were sacked on 8.8% of their pass attempts, and that doesn't even account for how often the quarterbacks got away when they were forced to scramble.  According to Football Outsiders the Vikes had the 5th worse pass offense last season (and 5th best rush offense).  The Vikes need to be able to throw the ball, and a blind side pass blocker may help them even more than an elite WR would.

A rebuilding team should never think about immediate need, and should almost always take the best player available. It's hard to say if Justin Blackmon or Morris Claiborne won't, over the length of their careers, prove to be better players.  They might; they might not.  But Matt Kalil immediately improves the team.

Harrison Smith (PFT)
TBird41 is excellent at projecting the Vikings' second round picks: here is his profile of Harrison Smith.  Read this blog, and you'll know what's up before it is up.

Man, do the Vikings need safeties.  They have been amassing cornerbacks that you can actually put on the field without crying (Antoine Winfield, Chris Cook, Zach Bowman, Chris Carr: those are real human beings!), but the roster still consisted of the same lousy safeties that made 2011 so very, very brutal to watch.  I might have liked for the Vikes to wait and get the (still available!) Stephen Hill or Alshon Jeffery, but Matt Kalil is already a big step toward fixing a terrible pass offense, and now if on the same night the Vikes take a step to fix a terrible pass defense, we should feel pretty good.  Pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty good.

Kick Ass Draft Links
Sports Illustrated's Profile of Kalil ("Though overrated by some..."  What a weird statement.  Who isn't?  That should be everybody's epigraph).

Sports Illustrated's Profile of Smith

Star Tribune's story on the Kalil pick.

The Vikings had great overall draft value before trading with Cleveland; after the trade they had the most draft value (Football Outsiders).  Now, what will they do with that value?  Because unused draft picks are abstractions of hope; players are concrete performers that can suck.

Lots and lots and lots more picks.  But my kids are doing a "turn off the screen" thing for the next week, so I'm not supposed to have the TV on while they are awake (and it's questionable whether I can pull out a computer screen to look at either; I guess I can sneak around them or something).  Between the NFL draft and NBA playoffs, this is a terrible, terrible weekend for such a thing (but it could be worse; there is no chance I'd go along with such an activity on a Sunday during the football season).


  1. PV:

    I loved the trade with Cleveland, grabbing three extra picks and still getting Kalil. I cringed a bit when they traded back into the first round and gave up a second to draft Smith.

    He seems like he could be a solid player, but no star. But not every player can be a star. A good first night of the draft, overall, I think. I expect they will trade back into the second round, too.

  2. I loved the trade too. I can't believe they got so much from Cleveland. I don't mind if they use their surplus to trade up another time (or two?) yet in this draft.

    Smith in the first will sting less if they can trade back into the second and get an exciting player.

  3. As I rethink it, Smith appears to be the dreaded "need" pick: Vikes have no competent safety so they take a guy they can immediately start, whereas by signing Jerome Simpson they can say they're at least not starting the very same WRs as last year (Harvin/Simpson/Jenkins might be among the league's worst WR corps, but they won't be semi-pro). Of course it's hard to know: Smith may also have been the best player available.

    1. The thing about Smith is everything I've read says he's a smart football player, great instincts but "stiff" in the hips and can't be asked to run with guys deep.

      I know he's a safety, and not a corner, but if you expect to make a living playing in the secondary in the NFL, shouldn't being able to cover guys be one of your strengths? I've never been a huge fan of drafting a safety in the first round, either. Oh well, I'm just a guy writing a blog with opinions and no actual scouting expertise.

  4. Yeah, I don't mind the idea of picking Harrison Smith, but I don't know that he would have been my first choice. I'd rather have had Stephen Hill, Rueben Randle or maybe even Josh Robinson instead.

    Ideally the Vikings can move up and get one of those players as well. I do like the willingness to move around and get the player the Vikings want though--it doesn't seem smart to assume other teams won't trade up, since the rookie salary cap makes it less expensive to sign the players