Draft Profile – Matt Kalil OL
Matt Kalil Draft Profile
By: Justin Partlow
Continuing my draft profile series, I’m taking a look at the ultra athletic LT from USC Matt Kalil. Standing at 6’7 295, Kalil brings a blend of height speed and athleticism that is rare to find at the LT position. What he does best is use proper form and technique against any rusher and keeps his QB upright. When you look at the 2012 OT class it truly is Matt Kalil at 1 and then a significant drop off to the next OT in Riley Reiff. What I’m going to get at here in this scouting report is the rare traits that Kalil possesses and then talk a little about the weaknesses to his game that are going to come up when you talk about projecting to the NFL.
First off the positives, Kalil is long in the arms, but never overextends when he’s in pass protection. Keeps a good solid base and finishes off his blocks both in pass protection and run blocking. While only at 295 pounds, he packs a good punch in the run game and can become dominating. While he’s not the biggest LT we’ve seen come out, many of the best LT’s in the game came into the NFL around the 300 pound mark. In this day and age at LT you need to be someone who can be athletic in pass protection, but also someone who can get out in the run game and create holes. Watching film of Kalil it’s easy to see that he can handle both easily. In the video below by JMPasq of Draft Breakdown, you can see just how good Kalil is both as a pass protector and a run blocker
What I personally liked watching and it will be overlooked by some is the base he plays with. I mentioned it earlier but when you watch him at LT, he stays bent and has good balance while in protection. So many times in the NFL will you see a LT who tends to overextend and then in turn it leads to the DE beating them badly for a sack or tackle for loss. With Kalil though he already has that technique down, so as an OL coach you are going to be able to just fine-tune and work on the little things instead of working on major technique problems. That also is to be expected with someone like Kalil who is a projected top 3 pick in the draft and many consider as the #2 prospect behind Andrew Luck. Also if you really want to see something I love about Kalil watch that video at the 4:40 mark. On a simple run play that goes away from his side, he still drives off the ball hard and finishes his block with authority. That’s something that might go unnoticed, but I caught onto it right away having the same intensity on a play that isn’t going your way as one that is can be very important to draft stock. That makes scouts know you will always give it 100% no matter what the situation is. Watching Kalil it’s pretty simple at what he excels at, pass protection and the ability to finish blocks in the running game.
Now lets get to the negatives and there really are two that I seem to notice when I watch Kalil play. One of these relates to actual on the field play and the other revolves around his height. First off while watching Kalil, I notice sometimes his footwork will get sloppy here and there. Its not something that is too terrible considering 99% of the time its picture form, but at the same time bad technique is does get noticed and it can become tiresome for a coach, when you do it right many times, but then a three times in a row of bad technique can become a habit. Also watching the film of Kalil he does tend to overextend with arms. While he’s able to recover most of the time because of how athletic he is, it also is something that is graded as a negative. Its not all the time, but it also does happen here and there. The other thing I have negatively graded on Kalil is his height. While I really don’t want to bring it up, it also needs to, as many of the LT’s in the game aren’t 6’7 to 6’8. While it’s not something that would affect my final decision on him being drafted, I would have a little pause at first. Again its not an end all be all thing with Kalil, but it has affected other parts of his game in terms of technique. I have no doubt he’s going to be a great one, and its kind of silly to bring it up, but you almost have to at the same time.
So where does Kalil fit in? Well he’s not a great fit here in Washington IMO more so with the fact we have an established LT in Trent Williams who is finally starting to develop into a top 5 LT like people have thought. Yes he had the suspension, but I think we won’t be hearing from Trent anymore after this. Kalil would be moved to the RT position, which I wouldn’t be too fond of considering I see him as a natural LT in the NFL. His best fit will be in a place like Minnesota where he can help a rebuilding team like the Vikings and be the blind side protector for a young QB like Christian Ponder.