Family man Matt Kalil knows he’s the best tackle in the draft
|02.23.12 at 3:18 pm ET|
INDIANAPOLIS — When it comes to the top of the draft, there isn’t much suspense this year. Andrew Luck will go first overall, and people have known that for quite some time.
This year, it’s about who’s No. 2. USC left tackle Matt Kalil could be that man, and he isn’t afraid to say he’s the best tackle in his class.
“I would definitely say I am the best tackle in the draft,” he said Thursday at the scouting combine. “Especially at my position, or the quarterback position or any big-time position, confidence is definitely a big part of your game. They want to hear that you think you’re the best tackle. I think I am. I think I’ve definitely worked hard, going through SC, going through any little thing I can to become a better player, and I definitely think I’m ready to take my skills to the next level.”
Kalil, who declared for the draft as a junior, has football in his blood. His father, Frank, played center at Arkansas and Arizona, and his brother Ryan is a center for the Panthers, chosen in the second round in 2007. For Matt, playing football as a young teenager wasn’t what it is for most kids. It wasn’t about going to park and throwing the pigskin around — it was about technique.
“To my dad, ‘Let’s play football,’ is ‘Let’s go do kick steps and let’s work O-line drills,'” he said with a laugh. “My first time going to Servite [High School], I tried to play tight end as a freshman, and my dad went on the field and he’s like, ‘No, he’s playing left tackle.’ That pretty much ended that dream.”
That wasn’t the extent of it for Kalil. Younger siblings are used to getting beaten up by their big brothers, but what about when your brother is a college-bound offensive lineman?
“When my brother was coming out of high school and he was about to go to the USC camp, me and [eventual USC teammate] Chris Galippo were 1-on-1 dummies and getting tossed around with bloody knees and elbows,” Matt said. “Basically getting beat up by my big bro.”
All of the bloody knees and elbows and weekends spent at the park working on technique ended up paying off for Matt, as he figures to be selected as high as second overall and as low as third overall. His father was right — he ended up making a great left tackle, but he grins as he remembers that first day of high school ball.
Said Kalil: “I would have been a sweet tight end.”