NFL Draft 2012: Matt Kalil Would Be the Smartest Pick for the Cleveland Browns

Brian MurtaughAnalyst IApril 18, 2012

LOS ANGELES - NOVEMBER 29:  Matt Kalil #75 of the USC Trojans looks on against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish on November 29, 2008 at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles, California.  USC won 38-3.  (Photo by Jeff Golden/Getty Images)
Jeff Golden/Getty Images

The 2012 NFL draft is only a little over one week from today, and the Cleveland Browns have made headlines as the team held a private workout with offensive tackle Matt Kalil.

Kalil is mocked by nearly every NFL expert to be the third overall pick of the Minnesota Vikings in next week's draft and is said to be the best offensive lineman in the draft in the last five seasons. 

With the Browns selecting only one spot behind Minnesota and the opportunity for trade always looming, Cleveland could be surveying a draft option that they feel was once unattainable.

Kalil is considered to be one of the most well-rounded prospects in the draft because of his superior pass blocking ability and his quickness off the ball. According to his scouting report on CBS Sports:

(Kalil) eases out of his stance, showing good patience to allow defenders to come to him. Plays with textbook balance and technique: knees bent, shoulders square and on the balls of his feet. Has good arm length and upper-body strength to steer defenders aside. Has the power and agility to mirror and when he sets his hands, it's generally game over. Has a tendency to be lazy fundamentally and is susceptible to elite lateral agility. Good recognition skills.

The other prospects in the draft like Trent Richardson and Justin Blackmon have received mixed reviews on whether their skills match some of the NFL's elite. Even though both of those prospects would fill a need in Cleveland, their presence would not do much good if the offensive line cannot block opposing defenders.

Kalil would be one of the best bookend tackle options that Cleveland could hope for in the 2012 NFL draft. Joe Thomas and Alex Mack have done a very good job at anchoring the line in recent seasons, but cannot do anything about pass-rushers coming from the right side.

Many experts would agree that Cleveland cannot survive without some sort of improvement on the right side of the line. Oniel Cousins is currently listed to be the starting right tackle for the Browns, and the guard position is far from set in stone.

Kalil would go a long way in solidifying the right side of the line and could move the Browns into consideration for the best offensive line in football. Thomas, Mack and Kalil could turn out to be the three best point-linemen in the league and may be able to help the Browns mask a weakness at the guard positions.

Kalil is expected to have a one-day workout with Cleveland and already had a pre-draft visit with the Browns shortly after the NFL Combine. It is not traditional of teams to take a right tackle in the top five picks of the draft, but few teams have had the offensive line trouble that the Browns have been faced with over each passing season.