The SB Nation two-round NFL mock draft continues along with each lead NFL team bloggers making the pick for their team. Up now is the Minnesota Vikings with the No. 3 overall pick.
With the second pick in the 2012 SB Nation NFL Writers Mock Draft, the Minnesota Vikings select Southern California left tackle Matt Kalil.
Christopher Gates from Daily Norseman breaks the choice down and I respond to it after the jump. For more on the Vikings, make sure to check out DailyNorseman.com.
Christopher Gates explains: With the highest pick the team has had in a quarter-century, the Vikings find themselves in a position to take the best non-quarterback prospect in the 2012 NFL Draft, whoever they deem that prospect to be. It just so happens that the three biggest areas of need for the Vikings - cornerback, wide receiver, and offensive tackle - intersect with three blue-chip prospects in Morris Claiborne, Justin Blackmon, and Matt Kalil. With the team being in a prime position here, they might be able to trade back and accumulate some more picks for their rebuilding process, but if they do stay here, Kalil is the smartest play, in my opinion.
The Vikings have some youth in their secondary and at wide receiver that they could potentially develop, but the one thing that we know for sure is that the Minnesota Vikings absolutely, positively can not go into the 2012 NFL season with Charlie Johnson as their starting left tackle. The Vikings have placed their future on the shoulders of Christian Ponder (and/or Joe Webb for the "true believers" out there), and they're never really going to know what they have in either of those quarterbacks if they have to scrape themselves off of the turf at the rate they did in 2011. Kalil would immediately be the starter at left tackle, moving Johnson to one of the guard spots and improving two spots on an offensive line that was woefully deficient in 2011. Kalil showed in his time at USC that he was head and shoulders above every other offensive tackle prospect in the nation, and some of the experts have him graded the same (or higher) as current Cleveland Browns' offensive tackle Joe Thomas, who has developed into one of the NFL's elite left tackles. Not only would this serve to protect Ponder, it would also help to open holes in the running game for Adrian Peterson and Toby Gerhart, particularly if the former is slow in coming back from the torn ACL that he suffered on Christmas Eve against the Washington Redskins.
While Blackmon or Claiborne would be a fine pick for the Vikings as well, the ripple effect of improvement that Kalil would have on the Minnesota offense makes him too good to pass up with the third overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft.
Dan Kadar responds: With the Vikings able to choose between three players, it opens them up to the possibility of a trade (which has been gaining some momentum of late). But in a scenario where the Vikings use the No. 3 pick, Kalil is the best choice. Although Claiborne and Blackmon are very good, there is depth at cornerback and wide receiver in this year's draft. Kalil is an exceptional offensive tackle prospect. If he improves his run blocking, he could quickly reach the level of Jake Long or Thomas.
Mocking the Draft's Top 5 Remaining Prospects