Brace Hemmelgarn-US PRESSWIRE
Offensive linemen are generally overlooked in the grand scheme of things in the National Football League. However, as people that watched the 2011 Minnesota Vikings can attest, having a cornerstone on your offensive line can do wonders for the unit as a whole.
Such has been the case this year with Matt Kalil. The Vikings took Kalil at #4 overall in the 2012 NFL Draft after fleecing the Cleveland Browns out of a couple of picks that they just had laying around anyway or something. While we all know that Kalil has been a massive upgrade at the left tackle spot over Charlie Johnson, it's hard to quantify just how good he's been this season. But, a couple of our favorite statistical sources have made an attempt to do just that.
We'll start with the folks from Football Outsiders, who are looking at the tackles that have done the best job this season of protecting the quarterback. In 721 snaps this season, Kalil has allowed just two sacks of quarterback Christian Ponder. The Vikings have allowed 27 sacks through 11 games this season after allowing 50 sacks in 16 games last season, and Kalil's pass blocking skills have been a big part of that.
Taking it one step further, the guys at Pro Football Focus have a stat called "Pass Blocking Efficiency," which shows Kalil as the 8th-most efficient pass blocking tackle in the NFL. The PFF stat takes not just sacks into account, but also hurries and hits. Kalil comes out with a Pass Blocking Efficiency score of 96.7 (on a 1-100 scale, I assume). In 411 pass-blocking snaps, Kalil has allowed just 18 combined sacks, hits, and pressures (by PFF's count. . .the number is probably slightly higher than that because PBE apparently takes just 3/4 of hits and hurries rather than the full number).
By any measure, Matt Kalil is quickly becoming one of the best left tackles in the National Football League, and will hopefully be a player that the Minnesota Vikings can build around for the long term.