Here we are moving into Draft week and the draft kitchen is heating up. We have watched our Chiefs' draft interests range from Dontari Poe (post his superman-like combine) to David DeCastro (the next Steve Hutchinson / Alan Faneca) to Ryan Tannehill (the un-Tebow dual threat which means He can actually throw, but plays WR as his second offensive choice and unlike Tebow was a very average college QB) to Luke Kuechly (who might be the next Brian Urlacher or the next Mike Mamula) and finally this morning we hear that Ryan Kalil may be our new flavor of the week. All we really know for sure is the Scott Pioli is playing the game exceptionally well. I mean nobody really knows what he is going to do and so the conjecture about the Chiefs is all over the place. That's what makes this so much fun because the Chiefs are finally the wild card of the draft. And since we are the #1 pick for the non-guaranteed fifth year of the Rookie contract, we have wonderful leverage.
At the pre-draft press conference, Pioli was asked if he would like to trade-up, pick or trade-down. His answer was, "yes". Thus reinforcing our wild card status. We have debated on and on about who the pick should be at #11, I want to look at the potential trade-up or trade-down based on some of the info out there. Let's take a look.
First, who would we trade up for? The general speculation has been Ryan Tannehill and now word from Russ Lande at SN is the Kalil could be the guy (H/T Arrowheadlines and NJ Chiefs Fan):
If Kalil isn’t selected by the Vikings, our sources tell us the Chiefs (who own the 11th overall pick) will attempt to trade up to obtain him. Kansas City recently signed former Texan Eric Winston to play right tackle and have 2008 first-round pick Branden Albert at left tackle. Albert is solid but not great and has only one year remaining on his contract. In 2012, Kalil could take over at left tackle, which would allow the Chiefs to move Albert to guard.
I'm not so sure about this, if just for the fact that I would guess (and I'm only speculating based on the podcast from Warpaint Illustrated) that Lande's "source" is Nick Athan. Athan was talking on his podcast about having Lande "a friend of the show" on in the coming week. Now they could be spot on about KC trading up but their track record (both WI and Lande) haven't been the best. However, there are several interesting news items out of Minny that may point to the fact that the Vikings will indeed pass on Kalil. The news on Kalil has hit heavy this week and leads one to ask, "why?" Could he be the surprise candidate to drop this year? Check out the following points:
First, From Profootballtalk.com:
There are three names up for consideration as the third overall pick for the Vikings next Thursday night. General manager Rick Spielman said at a press conference Thursday that the team will choose between Oklahoma State wide receiver Justin Blackmon, LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne and USC T Matt Kalil. Spielman, via Jeremy Fowler of the Pioneer Press, said that the front office has given all three players equal grades and they are now sifting between them to figure out which one will be on the card they hand to Roger Goodell.
Second, is this statement from Profootballtalk.com:
The word out of Minnesota is that the Vikings have not decided to take Kalil, contrary to what has been believed. So if the Vikings were to pass on Kalil, where would he end up? As Schefter noted, he could slide a few picks, as the next teams on the board — Browns at No. 4, Buccaneers at No. 5, Rams at No. 6 and Jaguars at No. 7 — all could conceivably pass on the draft’s top tackle. Then there’s the assessment from Greg Cosell of NFL Films, who writes that in his own mock draft, not only does Kalil not go at No. 3 to the Vikings, but Kalil doesn’t even go in the Top 10. Cosell isn’t necessarily down on Kalil — he calls Kalil the top tackle in the draft — but he doesn’t think Kalil’s talents and any team’s needs align until at least 10 picks are off the board.
Third, from NFL.com we have the "unnamed" scout who drops the dreaded "Robert Gallery" reference.
An unnamed scout played whack-a-prospect with Robert Griffin III in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel on Thursday. This time, USC offensive tackle Matt Kalil gets the treatment "He doesn't have an offensive lineman's character, especially when you take into account how good his brother is in that way. He's got a real sense of entitlement," one scout told Bob McGinn. "Hey, he's got a lot of talent. He'll overcome some of those things if he doesn't want to wash out, if he doesn't want to end up being Robert Gallery."
Finally, we have an interesting article in today's Minneapolis Star-Tribune:
Drafting Kalil: Tough call to tackle Article by: DAN WIEDERER , Star Tribune Updated: April 22, 2012 - 10:29 AM USC's Matt Kalil just might be the best fit for the Vikings at No. 3 overall. But history shows that drafting an elite offensive tackle early doesn't guarantee a turnaround.... As crazy as it might sound, the Vikings cannot select Kalil solely because he projects as a future Hall of Famer who will provide a sturdy wall of protection for the next decade. That alone, unfortunately, does not guarantee significant team success.... That's a question Spielman and Vikings coach Leslie Frazier must consider, measuring Kalil's worth alongside fellow blue-chip prospects such as LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne and Oklahoma State receiver Justin Blackmon. "You've got to really weigh your options," Frazier said. "Because the philosophy [in the NFL] has always been to get the game-changer. And left tackle is not necessarily the game-changer. Usually game-changers are the guys who can score you points. Receivers. Quarterbacks. So what are we measuring that left tackle against? It's a loaded debate."
Interesting right? Well, I was even more surprised to find this article quoting our own RAC regarding dominant left tackles. Here is the part of interest:
Former Browns coach Romeo Crennel was part of the brain trust that locked in the Joe Thomas pick five years ago. Without question, Thomas has become exactly the player Crennel envisioned. Sturdy. Consistent. Dominant. Yet, to date, Thomas' brilliance has paid few dividends. Cleveland started seven different quarterbacks during Thomas' career and had three head coaches. So what should the Vikings be considering as they measure Kalil's value? Crennel, now the head coach in Kansas City, believes the left tackle discussion has to center on the projected comfort that O-line prospect can provide his quarterback. In other words, the Vikings must sidestep the idea that Kalil's arrival will instantly accelerate their rise back to relevance. But if the Vikings firmly believe Kalil's steadiness will help quarterback Christian Ponder ascend quickly, then the pick is a no-brainer. "If you have a quarterback who has confidence in the guys protecting for him, when he has to throw, he is more at ease," Crennel said. "He can look down the field for the routes. He doesn't have to look at the protection or the rush. And I think that value, in itself, is hard to measure. If you get a left tackle who provides that for your quarterback, then I think your whole offense can be better in a hurry."
Wanna make Matt Cassell more comfortable? Maybe kicking Albert to guard and drafting Kalil is the way to go. And if Pioli and RAC believe you build from the lines why not get Kalil instead of DeCastro since LT's have a greater positional value than guard. Plus you have to think that KC would then have one of the most dominant O-lines in the league with a potential Pro Bowl LT for the next decade. Or could this all just be a ploy to get Buffalo to move up for Kalil? Think about it, Buffalo has been linked with Luke Kuechly, Mark Barron, and Michael Floyd. I mention Floyd only to point out how Buffalo might be risk-averse to selecting him because of his DUI history and a couple of items from the Buffalo front office pre-draft press conference.
For example, on the topic of North Alabama CB Janoris Jenkins, a player some teams won't even include in their final draft board, Nix signaled the Bills are likely to avoid the smoke, fire and off-field worries that come with adding a player with Jenkins' history. "You know I just would not get into that," Nix said. "But if you mean whether we'll take him or not ... ability-wise obviously you would. This is a political answer I'm fixing to give you, but otherwise you wouldn't. You get enough trouble without getting one that you know is a problem." And then there was this little tidbit that could make them jump for a guy like Kalil... Assistant GM Doug Whaley, Nix's replacement in waiting, said great tackles aren't easy to find. Nix backed up that notion, saying the best tackles in the league were drafted in the top 10.
So we see that if we could get Buffalo to jump for Kalil that might cause our true target to drop in at #11. Which leads us to:
And this brings us to one of the hottest names in the draft. Mark Barron. In a draft that is devoid of Superstar Safeties, Mark Barron is going to be in high demand especially with the league getting better at the TE position and moving to more of a passing league. One of my thoughts is that RAC and Pioli wouldn't have any problem taking Barron at #11. I say this because they know and love Saban's program at Alabama and by all accounts Barron was a coach on the field. If you could pair him with Eric Berry, moving Lewis to the nickle safety we would be a little better against the Mannings, Rivers and Palmers of the world. The other reason we want Barron at #11 is because of the other teams that would like to get him.
A Fanshot from Super8 found this note on Rotoworld:
ESPN Boston's Mike Reiss feels that Alabama S Mark Barron is atop the Patriots' list as a first-round possibility. Barron won't make it all the way to the Patriots at pick No. 27, but Reiss suggests they could trade up to the 10-to-13 range.
But we also have this little nugget of info from Peter King in his Mock Draft (remember King was the one who broke the Tyson Jackson draft pick a couple days before the draft):
I wouldn't be surprised to see Dallas trade up to make sure it gets Barron, perhaps with Kansas City at 11.
So we could potentially have both Dallas and NE calling up Pioli to make a deal. We know that Jerry Jones is not afraid to do what it takes to get a player that he wants and I don't think he would hesitate to part with a 2nd or 3rd and some change if he thinks Barron will upgrade his secondary. Belicheck will be more likely to trade up this year and especially to #11 if just because of the new CBA guidelines. I also think Belicheck knows his weakest link is his secondary and Barron upgrades it fast. He also won't worry about trading #27 and #31 to get there (I don't think Pioli would ask for much more than that).
There are some many other potential trade scenarios that are out there but these are the only two that I could find information on with regard to us trading back. Anything else would be speculation but hey isn't all of this speculation right now. Man, I love the draft. Thursday's coming and here's to hoping whoever we take is a ready made Pro Bowler.