USC offensive tackle Matt Kalil has had quite the two weeks leading up to the NFL draft. After being publicly praised for the physical gifts he possesses, the last two weeks have not been as kind because of anonymous scouts criticizing his personality while others are saying he could completely fall out of the top five picks—a place he seemed locked for not too long ago.
Despite the criticism he's received, his game tape hasn't changed and that's what matters most. Kalil is one of the top prospects in the draft and arguably the best at his position. There are very few weaknesses that he has and combined with his sky-high potential, he's likely to be one of the best at his job for more than a decade.
It may not appear as a strength when one takes a look at Matt Kalil, but his size is just that. He checked in at nearly 6'6" at the NFL Combine and 310 pounds. Although there are question marks about his weight due to him heavily dieting to get heavier, he still has a lot of room to grow into it and improve his strength.
His upper body strength is fine but his lower body needs work so he can do a better job of anchoring in pass protection. Despite this, he has the ideal stature of an offensive tackle as he's not too tall nor too short and as noted, he has room to fill out his frame.
It's hard to categorize Kalil's run-blocking as a "weakness" but in comparison to the rest of his game, it's just that.
Kalil is not a great run-blocker yet because he has a tendency to slip off of blocks and lacks aggression at all times. He has room to grow as a run-blocker because once he gets his lower body strength improved, he'll be able to move defenders at the point of attack better.
Being able to move laterally and forward with relative ease is a great advantage for Kalil as he is able to out-maneuver defenders and execute his assignments quicker.
This is particularly noticeable at the second level, to where he does a great job of getting because of his foot quickness.
The reason his athleticism, especially at the second level, is very important is because of the blocking schemes that are in use today. Majority of NFL teams utilize a zone blocking scheme that requires an offensive tackle to get to the second level, especially in the outside zone run concept.
One area where I'd like to see Matt Kalil improve his game is his hand use. He does a good job of getting inside of defenders' pads in order to gain leverage but sometimes defenders are able to get into his chest.
Defenders are able to do this because Kalil doesn't always keep his hands up, instead sometimes dropping them to the hip area and consequently exposing his chest for a bulrush. Another issue with his hand use is that he will sometimes windup when looking to deliver a punch to the defender and this can be an issue if the defender is quicker than him.
Despite this issue, it is able to be fixed through coaching.
One of the biggest issues that edge-blockers have is flexibility. Due to their massive size, they are not always flexible enough to bend at their knees and sit in their stance when dealing with pass-rushers. Instead, they will bend at their hips, causing them to go off-balance and lunge.
Fortunately, Kalil doesn't have this issue. He does an excellent job of bending at the knees and sinking his hips into the ground. When he does this, it is harder to knock him off balance and he's able to play with better strength.