Two pieces of draft news this morning paint a picture of the top four unfolding in a somewhat unexpected way next week. First from ultimate NFL Insider, ESPN's Adam Schefter:
First two picks are locks. No. 3 is not. Minnesota strongly debating Morris Claiborne, Justin Blackmon, Ryan Kalil, even Michael Floyd.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) April 18, 2012
Michael Floyd? That seems like a stretch at No. 3 (not that Justin Blackmon doesn't), but this piece of information is still a strong indicator that the Vikings want to exhaust all possibilities of picking up something approaching the package the Rams got to move down from No. 2 to No. 6 before committing to the logical target at No. 3, Matt Kalil (Schefter corrected his reference to Kalil's brother and Carolina center Ryan).
The Vikings need to take Kalil at No. 3 for so many reasons. Advanced pass-blocking left tackles are so rare in the NFL. Their franchise QB, Christian Ponder, is injury-prone and needs that blindside protector. The Vikings can take a viable cornerback and wide receiver later in the draft, but after Kalil, every other left tackle prospect—even those who should go in the first round like Riley Reiff and Jonathan Martin—have serious warts.
Yes, Kalil is not a mauler and lacks killer instinct, but D'Brickashaw Ferguson matched that profile too, and he has been worth every bit of the No. 4 overall pick.
The Cleveland Browns are responding by bringing Kalil for a workout, according to Cleveland Plain Dealer beat writer Mary Kay Cabot. This serves two purposes—to give the Browns clarity on whether to take Kalil over Trent Richardson, Justin Blackmon or Morris Claiborne, and to extend the trade up market for the Browns pick for a later team that covets Kalil.
The Browns should absolutely consider Kalil at No. 4. The positional value of a right tackle seems low, but the tactical advantage of having two shutdown pass blocking tackles in a division with Pittsburgh, Baltimore and Cincinnati is massive.
When we look back next week, this whole episode will probably just be a red herring, but it's one that is still a terrific conversation starter about the value of trading down, absolute positional value and how it could continue to shake up the top five of the draft.