Hello gang, how goes it? Sorry I've been scarce the last week, but I was on a business trip to the Redneck Riviera and was actually pretty busy. One of the things I was able to read was this interesting piece by Mike Wobschall over at the Vikings Mothership site, and it's quite an interesting theory.
What if the Vikes DON'T select Matt Kalil with the #3 overall pick?
Besides the Group Apoplexy here at DN, I mean. And I have to say, a small part of me would love to be live blogging from Winter Park when Matt Kalil ISN'T picked. I mean, you have to admit, there would be some comedy gold around these parts in the comments. And I'd be leading the pack, I assure you.
But anyway, I understand that there's a lot of double talk regarding the draft this time of year, and I also understand that GM Rick Spielman does more than his fair share of story planting and subterfuge, and if he can talk taking Morris Claiborne up, he might get somebody to cough up a second round pick, or a bevy of picks, to move down.
Spielman's contention is that you don't have to have an elite LT to go far in the playoffs...and he's right, but only to an extent.
After Matt Kalil, the name that is tied to the Vikings the most is LSU CB Morris Claiborne. Like Kalil, Claiborne is an elite talent as a position of need...and one could argue that cornerback is in almost worse shape than the offensive line. As it stands right now, the Vikes secondary consists of an oft-injured 35 year old, a guy that's one more 911 call by an (allegedly) battered girlfriend away from a probable suspension...and that's really about it.
Claiborne would be an infusion of talent in the secondary as much as Kalil would be on the offensive line, and you could make an argument that Claiborne would be a good pick...or they could swing a trade to acquire picks and move down.
As to Spielman's theory about not needing an elite LT, well, yeah he's got a point. But as Bob Sansevere points out:
The quarterbacks for the Packers and Giants are either all-pro (Aaron Rodgers) or all-pro caliber (Eli Manning). Teams with elite quarterbacks don't need an all-pro at left tackle. Teams with an inexperienced quarterback, like the Vikings, have a much better chance of success when surrounded by all-pro level players, particularly at left tackle.
Boom, case closed. And if you want a Vikings example, I refer you to as recent as 2009. Brett Favre had a season for the ages behind a line that was almost as bad as the 2011 line was. A great quarterback is able to mask the weaknesses on an offensive line; an inexperienced quarterback amplifies those same weaknesses.
I think Spielman is trying to talk up Morris Claiborne to see if Cleveland will bite. They've got a very good LT in Joe Thomas, and word on the street is that they really like Claiborne. Can Spielman move down one slot, get a high second rounder and still get Kalil? That would be sweet, but I find it hard to believe that Mike Holmgren will take the bait Rick's throwing.
Tampa Bay picks fifth, and they have a good LT in Donald Penn; he's only 28, and went to the Pro Bowl after the 2010 season. I can't see the Vikings looking past St. Louis at 6, because they need a LT as bad as the Vikings do, so if this is all a smokescreen and they really do covet Kalil, any trade will be done with either the Browns or the Bucs.
All that said, I'll be stunned if the Vikings don't end up selecting Matt Kalil. With the Geoff Schwartz signing, drafting Kalil allows Charlie Johnson to move inside, and the 2012 line enters training camp a hundredfold better than the 2011 version. Drafting Claiborne helps the secondary, but there's still a lot of work to go to get that unit up to par.
Drafting Kalil and switching Johnson gets the o-line a lot closer to league average than just drafting Claiborne does for the secondary.
Although, the wailing and gnashing of teeth would be a hoot.