On the other hand, considering that Kalil is bigger and more athletic than Sam Baker -- a first round pick by the Atlanta Falcons in 2008 -- and more technically sound than Tyron Smith -- selected in the first round by Dallas last April -- it is easy to see why scouts are so excited about the junior's upside and his ability to join these two former Trojans as first round picks. Scouts' excitement is all the more understandable when you consider his bloodlines and the fact that he's only going to get better with time.
An extremely highly touted prep prospect, Kalil followed his older brother Ryan's footsteps in signing with USC. Ryan turned an All-American career with the Trojans into a second round pick with the Carolina Panthers in 2006. He's since emerged as one of the NFL's top young centers.
Matt redshirted in 2008 when a sprained knee limited him early and served as a backup right tackle behind Smith in 2009. He switched over to the left side in the spring of 2010 and started all 13 games there in the fall, demonstrating the strength and technique of a more more experienced player.
Scouts will, of course, proceed cautiously with Kalil as he was surrounded by a great deal of talent. He is one of only two returning starters (Khaled Holmes) for the Trojans up front this season and is the only one expected to remain at the same position. The preseason Playboy All-American will need to play well in his second starting season to warrant the hype. If able to do so, Kalil appears well on his way to ranking among the elite offensive tackle prospects in the country.
Pass Blocking: Eases out of his stance, showing good patience in allowing the defender to come to him. Plays with textbook balance and technique; his knees bent, shoulders square and on the balls of his feet. Has good arm length and strength throughout his upper body to grab hold of the defender. Generally speaking, when Kalil gets his hands on the defender, it is game over, as he has the power and agility to mirror his opponent. Can get fundamentally lazy on occasion, however, failing to shuffle laterally and instead leaning into the defender, creating opportunities for his opponent to surprise him with a secondary move. Has good, but not elite lateral agility and may struggle with top edge rushers at the next level. Good recognition in pass protection. Sees the stunt and/or blitz coming and reacts accordingly.
Run Blocking: Fires off the snap and has the prototypical build and strength of an NFL offensive lineman. Maintains good pad level and has the strength in his upper body and leg drive to knock his opponent off the ball, including in short yardage situations. Keeps his hands inside the numbers. Quick to the second level and shows good, not great, mobility in blocking secondary targets. Flashes some nastiness, taking advantage of defenders off-balance to pancake them emphatically.
Pulling/Trapping: Not asked to pull often in this scheme, though he is asked to block on the move on designed roll-outs. Comfortable in this role, showing plenty of athleticism and recognition to handle blocking in space. Effective trap blocker, who opens his shoulder to allow the defender inside, before turning and sealing the opponent from the action.
Initial Quickness: Doesn't wow you with his initial quickness. Instead, has a smooth, patient style about him when in pass protection. Rarely allows an outside pressure despite operating against hybrid fronts and many undersized pass rushers. Has good quickness off the snap when run blocking, though his strength and hand placement are more critical to his success.
DownField: Good initial quickness when he needs to get to the second level. Locates his assignment quickly. Generally shows good lateral agility and balance when on the move and greets his target with an emphatic punch. Doesn't rely on an initial shove to finish the block, but instead sticks with his assignment. Would like to see him show a little more fire in his play, as he seems content with controlling his opponent rather than physically dominating him as he seems capable of doing.
Intangibles: Younger brother (Ryan) and father (Frank) each played D-I college football (Ryan at USC, Frank at Arkansas, Arizona) and in the NFL (Carolina and Buffalo, respectively). Plays on the defensive line for special teams and blocked a PAT against Notre Dame in 2010."
- Possesses a naturally broad frame and should be able to continue to add girth and get stronger without sacrificing much athleticism in the process.
- Is a natural bender who sits into his stance well and displays proper knee bend in pass protection.
- Is quick to set, gets out of his stance well and maintains balance even vs. speed on his kick-slide.
- Takes proper angles on the edge, never seems rushed and exhibits "plus" balance in his lower half.
- Displays very good range when reaching speed off the edge because of overall snap awareness and angles into contact more so than pure athletic ability.
- Keeps his hands up, is a compact puncher who uncoils his long arms well and exhibits good hand placement into contact.
- Showcases good change of direction skills on any type of counter. Is fluid in the hips and exhibits good foot quickness when asked to mirror.
- Displays a good combination of lateral quickness and balance through contact when locking out and sticking to defenders once engaged.
- Re-sets his hands well through contact in order to maintain leverage.
- Exhibits a "plus" first step off the football in the run game.
- Is routinely the first lineman moving off the football, takes a quick first step and uses his length well to get into contact.
- Displayed more of a mean streak in 2011, working harder to finish blocks and creating more of a push in-line.
- Exhibits excellent initial quickness and balance when asked to get around defenders on reach blocks.
- Steps and seals very quickly on the edge as well, taking excellent angles and keeping defensive ends from getting a sniff on runs designed to go through the B-gap.
- Looks natural/rangy pulling on lead tosses, getting into the second level and breaking down on contact.
- Possesses the body control to be patient into contact in space, gets his hands on defenders and sticks well through the play.
- Wasn't responsible for a sack given up in 2011 and has played at a high level over the past two years.
- Isn't afraid to compete for a job, was the reason the 10th overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft OT Tyron Smith played on the right side at USC.
- Has good family blood lines, brother Ryan Kalil was a second round pick in 2007 and has started four straight seasons for the Carolina Panthers at center.
What I don't like…
- He needs to continue to add strength/girth to his lower half. Looks thinner through the legs and will have a tough time consistently anchoring at the next level at his given weight.
- Has a tendency to widen his base/footwork on contact in order to help him anchor. And will get caught a bit overextended in the lower half and struggle to quickly re-direct through contact.
- Also will widen footwork in anticipation off the bull rush and give up a step laterally at times because of his overextended footwork and lack of balance.
- Tends to allow his pad level to pop up a bit through contact in the run game. Doesn't keep his base/feet under him through contact consistently which limits his natural power in-line.
- Isn't the stickest of players through contact in the run game, will get caught playing straight-legged and fall off blocks after his initial surge.
- Isn't the most naturally powerfully in-line guy on contact. Generates a good natural snap at the point, but lacks the lower body strength to simply drive stronger defensive linemen off the ball consistently. More of a step and seal guy.
- Wasn't overly natural when asked to drop his pad level down at the line and cut defenders on contact, struggled to consistently get into their frame.
Impression: There are some negatives concerning his overall anchor strength. However, you have a "plus" athlete at the position with good foot quickness, natural change of direction skills who knows how to bend. Might need a year to get stronger. But has the skill set to play in year one and develop into one of the leagues better offensive tackles as he matures physically."
Run Blocking: Kalil is an excellent move blocker that excels in open areas. He can break down, pull, and get into the second level with ease and fights through traffic well. He is sticky through contact and usually wins once his hands are engaged. He is excellent at walling off defenders and in the trap game. I would like to see him lower his base through contact as he gets a little high which causes him to lose battles with stronger defenders.
Technique: Kalil uses his hands as well as any tackle in this draft. He’s sound from the feet up. Natural knee bender that stays on balance. He needs a little work on using leverage as he does get high through contact and can get dead legs against more powerful defenders. He can be beat to the inside by counter moves when he’s facing edge speed. Massive improvements from 2010 to 2011 from a technical standpoint.
Athleticism/Strength: Kalil has the frame to add weight and maintain his level of athleticism. He’s very comfortable in space and moves well laterally. He’s got a strong initial punch and re-sets well. Has good anchor strength despite being a sub-300 pound tackle.
Bottom Line: Tyron Smith’s success in 2011 with the Dallas Cowboys can’t hurt Kalil’s draft stock. Kalil started at LT despite Smith’s presence at USC. Smith went No. 9 overall in the 2011 NFL Draft. Matt Kalil is an elite LT that won’t make it out of the top 5. There are some areas that he will need to work at but he’s got the goods to be an immediate impact tackle in the league.
Draft Projection: Top 5."
Understands positioning, angles and leverage — is a fine technician. Locks on and seeks to finish blocks. Sets a bit tall.
Will overaggressively lunge and slip off some blocks. Can play with more shock in his punch. Has NFL pedigree, clear starter-potential and should continue to improve. Will anchor the left side of a line for a long time."
Bold Statement:At this point, I feel that Tyron Smith is a better prospect because he plays with better leverage and is more athletic. However, Kalil has an entire season to improve which he is very likely to do.
Games Viewed: Washington '10, UCLA'10, Cal'10, Virginia '10, Oregon St. '10
- Kalil does a great job firing off the football and quickly getting into his set
- He gets his hands extended and into the body of the defender
- Kalil is able to velcro to the defender making it tough for them to disengage
- His upper body strength allows him to effectively turn and seal the defense
- A high motor and tenacity help him make blocks down the field
- Kalil takes short and balanced steps he allows him to utilize his strength and keep the defender in front of him
- He does a tremendous job getting his hands extended and into the defender which allows him to be a velcro player
- His good quickness makes him a factor when asked to pull and climb to the 2nd level
- Kalil has a thin frame and needs to work on adding some pounds and bulk
- He really needs to be more consistent with his pad level. He tends to rise as the play progresses hindering his leverage and ability to anchor.
- Kalil is a decent athlete but appears stiff at times. Not a fluid as I expected.
- His angles to the edge need some work. At times, he backpedals and sinks to far into the pocket allowing the rusher to get underneath him and flatten."
Has all the tools including long arms and the athletic feet of an elite NFL LT; not huge at under 300 pounds but is physical run defender with a real burst of the line of scrimmage and the strength to maul opponents; can get to the second level and make a block in space;
Needs to bring it on every play, though, as he has been inconsistent in the past and will lose focus on occasion; has good football bloodlines as father player professionally, while brother Ryan is currently a starter with Carolina."
Really knows how to use defenders' momentum against them, can push them behind the pocket; has elite athleticism to stick with blocks... Plays angles very well in both the passing and running game... He gets a good push in running game and is very good down-hill blocker...
Really moves the line of scrimmage forward and has the ability to seal off the end on edge runs... Athletic enough to get to second level and make high-quality blocks in run game... Great blocker in open space and on pulls to the left...
Very agile and smart in space... Understands the art of blocking, uses his size and athleticism to his advantage... Owns his edge of the line and dominates his section of the line of scrimmage...
Plug-and-play type left tackle in the NFL, has the smarts to pick up protection at the NFL level and the size and athleticism to hold his own against some of the better pass-rushers in the game... This guy is so highly regarded he forced former top ten pick Tyron Smith to the right side at Southern California.
Negatives -- Maybe a beneficiary of a very smart quarterback with great pocket presence... Great at pushing defenders out and backwards, but could present problems if quarterback doesn't step up...
Forcing defenders out and behind won't work against veteran NFL defensive ends... Needs to develop better inside blocking technique, has trouble on inside counter-moves, predominantly beat with inside cuts."
When it comes to playing hard and with a nasty attitude, he brings it every game and every play. As a pass blocker, he moves very well laterally. Quick feet. Can eat up a bull rush with his ability to stay at home, keep his butt behind him and low in order to hold his ground.
The number one offensive line prospect is definitely Kalil. He's a lock as a Top 5 and will likely be a Top 3 choice. Matt has a long family history of offensive linemen: his brother Ryan was a second round pick by Carolina in 2007.
His father Frank played offensive line in the USFL back in the day. The only knock on Kalil is that he doesn't have that high-ceiling athleticism and he'll need to add a little bit of muscle between now and his NFL playing days begin."