Playmaker Or Road Grader?

Holy Trinity member and Strib beat writer Dan Wiederer had a post on the Srib's Access Vikings blog on why it might not be a bad idea to pass on Matt Kalil and go after a 'playmaker' instead.

The argument goes that if the Vikings could find a 'serviceable' LT, I assume through free agency, then they could call that position filled and use the number three pick in April's draft to get young QB Christian Ponder (or Joe Webb, for you Spiderman loyalists) some weapons to throw to.

I couldn't disagree more, and neither could Tom Pelissero, apparently.

This isn't meant to call out Mr. Wiederer, but it just goes to show a couple things that are coming from the Vikings...or specifically from GM Rick Spielman.

Because it's Spielman that's saying that the Vikings don't HAVE to draft Matt Kalil if he's there. Never mind that he's about as safe a pick in terms of talent, because see, the VIkings could find a journeyman LT that could get the job done, use the #3 pick to draft a 'playmaker', and hoo boy, watch out.

The problem with that is that I'm not sure anyone believes Spielman. I'm not sure if Rick Spielman even believes himself when he says it.

Why? The Vikings went with a journeyman LT in Charlie Johnson after they cut ties with Bryant McKinnie...and it was...what's the word I'm looking for was an unmitiagted disaster. If Christian Ponder or Joe Webb are to develop into a quality quarterback, they need protection. If they get it, they'll be good. If they don't, we'll have the next David Carr or Tim Couch on our hands.

Left tackles, good left tackles, are tough to come by. As Wiederer notes in his blog post, of the seven guys listed as a LT that made the Pro Bowl this past season, five of them were first round picks, and three of those guys were top 5 guys (Jake Long, Joe Thomas, and D'Brickashaw Ferguson).

The Vikings haven't drafted a tackle in the first round very often, but when they've had, it's been money. Ron Yary (1968) ended up in the Hall of Fame. Steve Riley (1974) was a starter at right tackle for 8 of his 10 years. More recently, Todd Steussie was a very good pick in 1994 and played well, false start penalties aside, earning two pro bowl berths. Korey Stringer (RIP, big man) was a right tackle and was just entering his prime before the 2001 tragedy, and Bryant McKinnie was a decent LT for almost a decade, even if he didn't fully live up to his potential.

If these past three seasons have taught us anything, it's that great quarterback play (Brett Favre in 2009) can mitigate a lot of weaknesses on the offensive line, but average QB play (Favre 2010, TJ, Ponder, McNabb) cannot overcome bad line play, and without a good line, your offense isn't going anywhere.

Kalil isn't as sure a thing as walking into a cathouse wearing a suit of $100 bills, but he seems to be about as close to that as you can get. I'll be stunned if the Vikings don't take Matt Kalil if he's there. Then I'll probably get really mad.

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