As we just mentioned, the Vikings are reportedly not sold on Matt Kalil and are open to selecting Morris Claiborne in the 2012 NFL Draft. That isn’t exactly the news Buccaneers fans are hoping for, what with Claiborne having been the consensus favorite in Tampa since the end of last season. The report could be a giant smokescreen, the Vikings have a young QB and need to protect him, but if it’s true the Bucs aren’t in trouble either.
They may even be better off in the long run.
The way consensus has the draft playing out is that Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin go first to the Colts and Redskins respectively. Then come the Vikings who would be happy to deal their pick, but if left to choosing a player were supposed to pick USC offensive tackle Matt Kalil.
With Kalil in Minnesota, the Browns are a bit of a wild card but the presumption has been that Morris Claiborne would fall to the corner-hungry Bucs at five.
Not so fast.
If Claiborne winds up a Viking it may not affect the Browns much outside of trade talks. It will have a profound impact on the Bucs’ draft plans though.
Don’t be surprised if Matt Kalil ends up in Pewter next year if he falls to five.
That would be a coup.
I’ve made no secret that I think Donald Penn is a terrible left tackle. You can point out a few things that he does well, but he’s at-best serviceable as a pass blocker and a lousy grater in the run game, he’s middle of the pack on a good day.
Kalil would be an immediate upgrade, a franchise left tackle in his rookie year to go along with a very good interior line. If the Vikings pass on him the Browns are likely to pass too, given they have All-Pro tackle Joe Thomas under contract. The Bucs could jump at the chance though.
Greg Schiano wants a power run game and adding a tackle the caliber of Kalil to a line that already includes Carl Nicks, Jeremy Zuttah and Davin Joseph would turn the Bucs offensive line into a legitimate strength.
The Bucs could decide between Jeremy Trueblood and Penn for the right tackle, clear cap space by cutting the other and enter 2012 with arguably the top line in the NFC South. Think about that, with Vincent Jackson, Mike Williams, Arrelious Benn and Preston Parker at receiver, Luke Stocker and Kellen Winslow at tight end, a revamped offensive line and LeGarrette Blount and Josh Freeman in the backfield, the only hole left on that side of the ball would be a back-up tailback which can be added later in the draft or after June 2 cuts.
Now, obviously, that doesn’t address the need in the secondary but it does put the Bucs in a fantastic position to move forward offensively.
Would it be the right move? Given the circumstances, yes.
While I would never endorse picking Kalil over Claiborne given the Bucs’ needs, it certainly wouldn’t hurt to add the draft’s best lineman to the fold.
Obviously everything depends on the Vikings and Brown at three and four, but the Bucs are in great position heading into April.