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If the Minnesota Vikings Shake Up the Draft, Where Does Matt Kalil Land?

By Beardandstache @BeardAndStache

If the Minnesota Vikings Shake Up the Draft, Where Does Matt Kalil Land?

Photo: Getty Images

- Troy Ballard

Smoke and mirrors.
That seems to be the best way to describe the Minnesota Vikings front office in regards to the team's third overall selection in the 2012 NFL Draft. For eons (practically since the end of the regular season), USC tackle Matt Kalil has been a lock for Minnesota, and now just days before the draft, the chances of the Vikings going another direction has emerged as a very real possibility.
LSU corner Morris Claiborne has been heavily linked to Minnesota as a possible selection, and also there have been quiet talks of the Vikings looking into Oklahoma State wideout Justin Blackmon. Combine that with a handful of rumors of trading-down, and really, anything could happen with that third overall pick.
If the Vikings do end up passing on Kalil, who will pick him up?
Kalil is far and away the best tackle in the draft. There have been comparisons to numerous NFL talents, and he will likely become an anchor and cornerstone for any franchise that drafts him. That being said, the Vikings biggest need on the team is for a tackle, so drafting Kalil would make perfect sense. However, the lure of trading down with the Rams or Browns, or the appeal of Claiborne and Blackmon may be too much for the Vikings front office to handle.
I'd say at this point, there is a 70-30 split Minnesota takes Kalil or goes another direction.
If he does get past Minnesota, would the Cleveland Browns (who hold the fourth overall selection), be interested in drafting the USC stud? The simple answer -- no. Although the Browns could use a talent like Kalil, the team has a much bigger need for an offensive playmaker like Trent Richardson.
The next team that he could land with would be Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who just went gonzo and signed Pro-Bowl guard Carl Nicks in free agency. The idea of pairing Kalil with an already established force in Nicks would be nauseating for opposing defenses. Tampa Bay taking Claiborne if he's available is the most likely bet, but if he's not, Kalil has a good chance of becoming a Buccaneer.
The St. Louis Rams, who hold the sixth overall selection, are drafting Justin Blackmon if he's available. There's not even a shadow of a doubt. However, if for some reason Blackmon isn't on the board, St. Louis could snag Kalil to keep Sam Bradford off his back.
The next team on the board is the Jacksonville Jaguars -- but if Kalil falls this far, another team will trade-up with the Jags' to draft him. Jacksonville has been flirting heavily with the idea of trading-down, and if by some miracle Kalil manages to slide this far, a tackle hungry team will gladly overpay to draft him. Sliding seven spots for the best tackle in the draft is unheard of, and there is absolutely no chance that Kalil makes it past this pick.
This entire first-round and draft could be shaped by what the Vikings decide to do. Minnesota holds the choice to play it safe with Kalil and keep the draft on track, or the the team has the option to roll the dice on Claiborne, Blackmon, or trading the pick away.
Keep yours eyes peeled. If Kalil doesn't go to Minnesota, the first-round is going to get crazy.

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