EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. (WCCO/AP) — The Minnesota Vikings moved down in the draft and still found their man.
The Vikings took USC left tackle Matt Kalil on Thursday night after trading their third overall pick to the Browns for the fourth overall selection.
With quarterbacks Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III already spoken for, the Vikings held the early key to the draft. Cleveland came after it. In addition to swapping spots in the first round, the Browns sent picks in the fourth (118th overall), fifth (139th) and seventh (211th) rounds to give the Vikings a whopping total of 13 selections.
The 6-foot-7, 306-pound Kalil left college after his junior year, giving the Vikings an obvious upgrade for their offensive line to better protect young quarterback Christian Ponder’s blind side.
Despite recent speculation the Vikings would choose LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne or even Oklahoma State wide receiver Justin Blackmon, they ultimately wound up with the player who’s been most widely projected to land in Minnesotaall along.
Long arms. Big hands. Tall frame. Mobile body. Strong bloodline. Hard worker. Nasty streak. Those are the prevailing descriptions of Kalil, who needs to get stronger to develop a better finishing technique when he’s run blocking and hold his ground more consistently against bull-rushing defensive ends.
The bust rate at this position is clearly lower than quarterbacks, wide receivers or defensive ends. Jake Long, Joe Thomas and D’Brickashaw Ferguson are some of the stars who’ve emerged after being taken in the top five over the past several years. Kalil has family on his side, too. His father, Frank, was drafted by the Buffalo Bills in 1982 and played in the USFL. His brother, Ryan, is the center for the Carolina Panthers and has been to three straight Pro Bowls.
The Vikings haven’t selected in the top three since 1968, when they drafted offensive tackle Ron Yary first overall. Yary, another USC product, is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The Vikings haven’t even been in the top five since 1985, when they got defensive end Chris Doleman, a soon-to-be Hall of Famer. They haven’t picked in the top 10 since 2005, when they made the ill-fated selection of wide receiver Troy Williamson with the pick obtained in the Randy Moss trade.
In a late first-round development, the Vikings traded their second round pick and a fourth round pick to the Baltimore Ravens for the 29th overall selection in the first round. With that pick, they chose Harrison Smith, a safety out of Notre Dame. Smith was the second safety taken in the draft and is widely considered one of the top safeties in the draft.
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