2012 NFL Draft: Matt Kalil Not an Option for Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Caleb AbnerContributor IIIApril 24, 2012

LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 10:  Matt Kalil #75 of the USC Trojans speaks to reporters after his blocked field goal in the final seconds of the game preserved a 17-14 win over the Utah Utes at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on September 10, 2011 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

Mark Dominik has just woken up from his nap. As he rubs his eyes, Greg Schiano is furiously spinning around in a swivel chair. The scout team is digging through literal tons of scouting pages, while a timer makes a tick and starts counting down. 59...58...57...

They sit in the Buccaneers' draft war room in New York in sheer terror. 

Both Morris Claiborne and Trent Richardson have been drafted.

Whom can the Bucs draft instead?

The obvious pick would be Matt Kalil, the superstar left tackle from USC.

Most commonly projected to the Vikings at No. 3, Kalil combines size, intelligence and athleticism and has elite potential. He would have no place in Tampa Bay, however.

At left tackle, Donald Penn currently sits comfortably, and while Jeremy Trueblood is not the greatest right tackle in the world, he is able to hold his own most of the time. 

Last year the Bucs had a mediocre offensive line and made a huge commitment to repairing it during the offseason. They signed the magnificent Carl Nicks who will allow Jeremy Zuttah to move to center. The combination of the two with Pro Bowler Davin Joseph gives Tampa the best interior offensive line in football.

The holes on defense far outweigh Matt Kalil's possible benefits. Aqib Talib's legal troubles and Ronde Barber's age would make cornerback a huge need even if the pair had played brilliantly in 2011 (they didn't). Other than now-sophomore Mason Foster, the linebacker corps is weak at best and lacks depth. Tampa Bay had the league's worst rush defense and a bottom-of-the-barrel pass defense. 

Instead of a luxury pick, Mark Dominik has to take a defender with a shovel who can fill the roster holes immediately.

Luke Kuechly, the Boston College inside linebacker, has all the intelligence and instincts one could ever want in a Mike 'backer, not to mention he has been the nation's premier tackler for the last two CFB seasons. With him, Mason Foster could play on the outside, where he would not have to struggle with recognizing offensive formations. 

Even Stephon Gilmore would make a better selection than Matt Kalil. Although one can find Gilmore projected as low as 21, he has the tools for long-term success and Ronde Barber's mentorship could push him to All-Pro caliber.

If nothing else, the Bucs should trade down rather than pick Matt Kalil. The best-player-available strategy would not work well with the fringe-breakout team.