2012 NFL Draft Recap: How Matt Kalil Will Return Vikings O-Line to Greatness

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2012 NFL Draft Recap: How Matt Kalil Will Return Vikings O-Line to Greatness

Minnesota Vikings fans weren't the only ones pleased by the selection of USC LT Matt Kalil with the fourth overall pick in the 2012 NFL draft.

Quarterback Christian Ponder and All-World running back Adrian Peterson were pretty pleased as well.

It's expected that Kalil will step right in at left tackle—when you go that high in the draft, the theory is you can jump in immediately—while Charlie Johnson will move to left guard.

Both moves will impact the Vikings offense by making the left side of the line immediately better.

The Vikings' line has been in decent shape over the last few years—and better than decent, at times—but has definitely slipped since the glory days. Steve Hutchinson, Bryant McKinnie, Anthony Herrera and Ryan Cook once formed the basis of one of the best lines in the league, especially when it came to running the ball.

Kalil isn't the only piece to add if they want to return to the old days, but he's an excellent start. Once again, allowing Johnson to move to left guard is a benefit as well.

In looking at Kalil, it's very clear he's a stud who could be the cornerstone of this offensive line for years.

He's got a quick first step and fires off at the snap, catching defensive linemen before they can set up. This is especially critical when blocking for the run as he will have to push a defender back in order to open the hole.

Kalil moves very well for his size. He is able to slide quickly on a counter and does a fantastic job occupying a defender once he's engaged.

I've watched a bunch of Kalil's games (which, as with any tackle, is a pain—apparently home viewers aren't that interested in line play) and what I noticed, most notably against Stanford a year ago, is that he got out to the second level quickly and really devastated the second line of the defense.

Adrian Peterson doesn't need any extra help, but he's got it. Especially coming off the injury he is, a solid left tackle wreaking havoc among the defense while he gets his legs back is a good thing.

Kalil is also a fighter, tough and determined both in practice and games. He is the reason the No. 10 overall pick in the 2010 draft Tyron Smith was stuck at right tackle at USC. Kalil just took the job.

Smith isn't bad—Kalil is that good.

One stat that will make Ponder smile wider than any other is that Kalil did not allow a sack at all in 2011.

Here's a guy who is going to step right in, keep the quarterback clean and pave the way for the All-Pro running back.

The pick of Kalil is just as quick and powerful a first step as the young tackle has himself.

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