Is this man already one of the NFL's best young players? ESPN's K.C. Joyner seems to think so. (Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-US PRESSWIRE)
I saw the link come across over the Twitter that K.C. Joyner, ESPN's "Football Scientist," had done a list of his ten best players in the National Football League that would be under the age of 25 when the 2012 NFL season kicks off in a couple of months. Naturally, I clicked on the link and immediately started scanning it for the name of Percy Harvin, who turned 24 about six weeks ago, and was surprised to not see it on the list.
I was equally surprised to see the name of a member of the Vikings that has yet to play a snap at the NFL level.
Joyner listed Vikings' offensive tackle Matt Kalil, the fourth overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, as his ninth-best player under the age of 25. Joyner had this to say about Kalil, who is actually celebrating his 23rd birthday today (Happy Birthday, Matt!)
Pros: Kalil served as an offensive line cornerstone at USC. He has the type of talent that caused Todd McShay to say, "Kalil is the best offensive tackle I've evaluated since Joe Thomas." Kalil also played on the Trojans special teams line and was athletic enough to block four kicks last season.
Cons: Contrary to popular opinion, left tackle isn't quite the cornerstone position some would make it out to be. Many teams have won Super Bowls with less-than-stellar play at that position, and picking a left tackle over a quarterback can oftentimes be a mistake (e.g., when Miami picked Jake Long over Matt Ryan in the 2008 draft).
I still don't get the "teams have won Super Bowls with less-than-stellar play at left tackle" argument. Yes, that might be the case, but they also win those Super Bowls with quarterbacks that have been part of the same system for a while and have been working with the same receivers for a significant period of time. The Vikings' quarterback, Christian Ponder, has neither of those benefits at this point. Maybe, in time, Ponder will develop to the point where he won't need an "elite left tackle" in order to win football games.
But, regardless of whether he needs one or not, it appears as though he's going to have one.