Vikings not sold on Matt Kalil at No. 3?

Colts? Andrew Luck.

Redskins? Robert Griffin III.

Vikings? Matt K…

Well, maybe not.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported on SportsCenter today that he doesn’t believe USC offensive tackle Matt Kalil is a lock to be the Vikings’ selection at No. 3 in this month’s NFL draft, “by any stretch.”

This is noteworthy because a) Schefter is one of the most plugged in reporters in the NFL, if not the most plugged in reporter, and b) Kalil has seemingly been a slam-dunk to the Vikings at No. 3 for the past month. Schefter appeared on NFL Live later in the day and said Minnesota was eyeing three players with the No. 3 pick: Kalil, Justin Blackmon and Morris Claiborne.

It has been reported that the Vikings would like to trade down, acquire more picks and still land an impact player later in the first round. But just like I’ve stated with the Browns (who also may want to trade down), which team is going to trade up and for whom would they trade up for? Trent Richardson is a hell of a prospect but running backs are becoming less and less valuable in a pass-heavy league. Ryan Tannehill, meanwhile is the next best quarterback prospect after Luck and Griffin but I don’t think he’s worthy of a top 5 pick.

I don’t see a team willing to move up for Blackmon, Claiborne or Kalil either. Thus, short of the Colts and/or Redskins shocking everyone by not taking Luck and/or Griffin, I firmly believe teams like the Vikings and Browns will be hard pressed to move out of their spots.

If the Vikings do pass on Kalil for Blackmon (we’ll use Blackmon for the sake of this example), then it’ll be interesting to see what St. Louis does at No. 6. Kalil could essentially fall into their laps and given the issues the Rams had up front last year, they’d almost have to pull the trigger on the best left tackle in the draft.

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Browns seemingly hold the draft fate of the Bucs and Rams in their hands

If the top 3 of the 2012 NFL Draft goes the way many expect, then the Browns hold the fate of the two teams selecting directly behind them.

It’s safe to assume that the Colts will draft Andrew Luck with the top overall pick and that the Redskins will select Robert Griffin III at No. 2. And while GM Rick Spielman has tried to drum up interest in cornerback Morris Claiborne, chances are the Vikings will take offensive tackle Matt Kalil at No. 3.

But once the Browns are on the clock at No. 4, everything gets a little less predictable.

Cleveland could stand pat and take running back Trent Richardson (whom I selected for the Browns in my first mock draft), receiver Justin Blackmon, or Claiborne. If Minnesota somehow passes on Kalil, he becomes an option for the Browns at No. 4, even though they’re already set at left tackle with Joe Thomas. (Cleveland still needs a right tackle and it may be difficult for the Browns to pass on the opportunity to pair an intriguing talent like Kalil with a five-time Pro Bowler in Thomas.)

The Browns could also trade the pick, which might ultimately be in their best interest. If they can pull off a trade with Miami at No. 8 and still land Richardson, then Cleveland wins. That’s the Browns’ best-case scenario right there.

But the key is whether or not some team will want to trade up and if they do, whom would they target? Many believe that Richardson is an Adrian Peterson-type prospect, but running backs have become increasingly less valuable in a pass-heavy league. And while the Dolphins and maybe even the Chiefs could trade up for quarterback Ryan Tannehill, is he a top 5 prospect? Better yet, is he the type of franchise signal caller that teams would want to part with a first-round pick for? If the Dolphins stay pat at No. 8, they could feasibly get Tannehill there and not have to part with any picks in order to move up.

Thus, we’re back to the Browns and their options at No. 4. If they take Richardson, then the Rams would be ecstatic because that means Blackmon would likely fall to them at No. 6. If the Browns take Claiborne, it’s a realistic possibility that the Bucs will take Richardson at No. 5 because whom else would they take? They need defensive line help but Quinton Coples and Melvin Ingram both have question marks, and they’d be reaching for a DT like Fletcher Cox or Michael Brockers. If Cleveland selects Blackmon, then you’ll probably see St. Louis attempt to trade down or if Richardson is there, the Rams may tab him as Steven Jackson’s replacement.

Either way, it all starts with the Browns at No. 4. They’re the first piece of the domino.

2012 NFL Scouting Combine: 15 players that improved their draft stock

Missouri Tigers Michael Egnew (82) gets past the Iowa State Cyclones defense for a 39 yard touchdown in the first quarter at Faurot Field in Columbia, Missouri on October 15, 2011. UPI/Bill Greenblatt

Which NFL prospects improved their draft stock at this year’s scouting combine?

Dontari Poe, DT, Memphis
Poe may have been the most impressive player at this year’s combine. He’s already a physical marvel at 6-foot-5 and 348 pounds that can play in either a 3-4 or a 4-3. But toss in the fact that he ran an unreal 4.9 forty and did 44 reps on the bench press and what you have is a sure-fire top 20 pick.

Stephen Hill, WR, Georgia Tech
Hill ran a 4.36 forty, which was the fastest time among all of the receivers (Miami’s Travis Benjamin also ran a 4.36) and placed him second behind only Central Florida cornerback Josh Robinson (who ran a 4.33). He also posted an impressive 39.5-inch vertical jump and displayed good quickness in short shuttle drills. At 6-foot-4 and 215 pounds, Hill has the size and speed that teams look for in a potential No. 1 receiver. With his stellar combine workout, he may have moved himself into the late first round.

Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor
Griffin made the Rams very happy with his 4.41 forty time, which bested all quarterbacks at the combine. He was a top 5 pick heading into Indianapolis but he may have just upped his asking price with his impressive performance. The Rams seemingly want to deal the No. 2 overall pick and after Griffin shinned in Indianapolis, they should have plenty of trade suitors come April.

Luke Kuechley, LB, Boston College
Teams were well aware of Kuechly’s productivity (he finished with 532 tackles at Boston College), instincts, toughness, and I.Q. before the combine. But after he posted a 4.50 forty and a 38-inch vertical leap, he cemented his status as a top-20 pick. He looks like one of the safer first-round prospects in this year’s draft.

Josh Robinson, CB, Central Florida
Robinson blew scouts away when he ran unofficial forty times of 4.31 and 4.29, respectively. Those times made him the fastest prospect at this year’s combine and he also posted the best broad jump among the defensive backs with a mark of 11-foot-1. He’s a raw underclassman but after compiling 10 interceptions at Central Florida, Robinson has the speed and ball skills to merit a second round selection.

Matt Kalil, OT, USC
Kalil is a monster at 6-foot-7 and 306 pounds and is the younger brother of Panthers Pro Bowl center Ryan Kalil. He posted a 4.99 forty, was excellent in the three-cone drill, and also did 30 reps on the bench. He cemented his status as the top left tackle in the draft and he may have guaranteed that the Vikings will select him with the No. 3 overall pick in April.

Cordy Glenn, OT, Georgia
Glenn shocked observers by running a 4.96 forty and proved that he’s quick enough to play either right tackle or guard at the next level. He’s a massive run blocker at 6-foot-6 and 345 pounds, yet he stood out in the 10-yard split by clocking a 1.76. He also posted 31 reps on the bench press and cemented his status as a top-20 pick.

Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame
Behind Georgia Tech’s Stephen Hill, Floyd was the most impressive receiver in Indy this year. He quelled some fears about his ability to separate from defenders by clocking a 4.47 forty, and at 6-foot-3 and 220 pounds he has prototypical size for a receiver. While some scouts remain skeptical about his on-field speed, Floyd definitely improved his draft stock this past weekend.

Nick Perry, USC, OLB/DE
Perry was highly impressive in most of the drills at the combine, posting a 4.50 in the forty, a 38 1/2 –inch vertical leap, 10-foot-4 broad jump, and 35 reps on the bench press. He looks like an ideal fit as an edge-rusher in a 3-4.

Mychal Kendricks, LB, California
I included Kendricks in my “Spotting defensive value” article last week and he didn’t disappoint at the combine. At 5-foot-11 and 239 pounds, there are questions about his size, which is why he was projected to go in the fourth or fifth round before last week. But he posted the fastest forty in the linebacker group with a time of 4.47 and is a violent, explosive hitter from his inside linebacker position. I think he has a spot on a NFL roster and will make some team extremely happy in the fourth round.

Michael Egnew, TE, Missouri
Egnew was one of the top performers at the tight end position in the three-cone, broad jump, short shuttle, and vertical jump, and also posted a 4.6 forty. Some believe his game speed isn’t as fast as his forty would suggest but he nevertheless looks like a solid “Y” or slot tight end at the next level.

Kirk Cousins, QB, Michigan State
Cousins was arguably the most impressive quarterback in passing drills last weekend. Granted, Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin II and Ryan Tannehill didn’t throw but that shouldn’t take away from the natural skill set that Cousins possessed in the three and five-step drop drills. Before the combine, Cousins was projected to go in the third round but he may have jumped into the second with his impressive performance.

Stephon Gilmore, CB, South Carolina
Gilmore posted a 4.37 forty, which highlighted his excellent speed. Considering he’s also 6-foot-1 and 190 pounds, teams will be just as intrigued by his size as they are with his speed. He looks like the third best corner in the draft and is ideal for a zone scheme.

Zach Brown, LB, North Carolina
Brown is a former track star and after running an unofficial 4.4 forty, teams will love his potential as a weak-side linebacker. He’s an ideal fit in a Cover-2 scheme that will allow him to track down ball carries in the open field. Look for him to be drafted in the late first or early second.

Melvin Ingram, DE, South Carolina
Ingram was already viewed as a first-round pick coming into the draft but he may have guaranteed that he’ll be a top-15 pick with his performance at the combine. He clocked an unofficial 4.66 forty and a 1.65 10-yard split, and teams could fight over his versatility and athleticism come April.

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