Feb 25, 2012; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Southern California Trojans offensive lineman Matt Kalil does a footwork drill during the NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-US PRESSWIRE
In what started as a rumor last week with word the Minnesota Vikings were favoring Morris Claiborne over Matt Kalil with the #3 overall pick, now we have more murmurs about moves that could shake up the top of the draft. Tony Grossi of ESPN-Cleveland is reporting that 'multiple teams' are expressing interest in moving up to the #4 spot.
Some GM's believe a franchise left-tackle is as important as a franchise QB, and if reports are true that Kalil could be available at the Browns' pick it's easy to see why so many teams are interested. Make no mistake- Ryan's younger brother isn't just the best LT in this draft, rather he's held in rarefied air with Joe Thomas and Jake Long, both of whom are All-Pros at their position.
I have it on good authority that Matt Kalil has been at the top of the Panthers' board for some time now, higher even than the two QBs in this draft. If they believe he is as good as advertised then it wouldn't be outside the realm of possibility, but the price would be a steep one to move from the 9th overall pick, up to 4th. We'll explore the possibility of the Panthers trading up...
After the jump
Watching film you can see why Matt Kalil is regarded as highly as he is. He's an extremely smart, athletic and strong football player whose technique is almost flawless. When Ryan says that his younger brother is better than he is, and he's already one of the best centers in the NFL it tends to make people stand up and notice.
The letter of the law may state that Kalil isn't the kind of 'impact player' Rivera and Hurney have alluded to, what he does add is finish arguably the best offensive line in football. He may need to start at RT year one while he adjusts to the NFL, but in year two it's safe to assume he could move to the left with Gross at RT. At that stage it doesn't really matter what you get from your guard play- with Matt Kalil and Gross as bookends, and Ryan Kalil in the center Cam would have an astounding amount of time in the pocket. Furthermore, but Matt Kalil and Gross would have the athleticism to get downfield and block for Newton on designed runs- essentially it would be perfect.
But here's the kicker
Adding Matt Kalil to the Panthers offensive line would be absolutely perfect, if not for the astronomical cost it would be to trade up. While the price wouldn't be quite as high as the Redskins paid to move up to #2 overall, it would likely be close. I project the cost for such a move would be the Panthers 1st round pick in 2012 and 2013 as well as this year's 2nd round pick and next year's 3rd round pick.
Would Matt Kalil be worth such a cost? Honestly I'm not sure.
I (like many) don't believe the Panthers will be picking in the top 10 many more times in the next decade. There is a sense that striking while the iron is hot could be the right move if it means pairing Cam with a franchise LT for his entire career. Yes, two firsts, a second and a third would be a lot to move up- but as we've seen from Matthew Stafford, Peyton Manning and Sam Bradford protecting a QB's blindside is paramount.
There are a lot of 'ifs' in this scenario, but at the end of the day it will come down to how Marty Hurney and Ron Rivera view their roster. If they like the developmental players they have and are willing to wait to have a high selection I could see Kalil being the kind of gamble the Panthers would make. As I said earlier I'm not sure whether it would be the right move, but it's undeniable he would solidify the Panthers offense for the next decade.