Breakthrough Web Design - 515-897-1144 - Web sites for businesses
News & Entertainment for Mason City, Clear Lake & the Entire North Iowa Region

Founded October 1, 2010

More pressure for Packers’ Rodgers as Vikings and Bears pick pass rushers

This news story was published on April 27, 2012.
Advertise on NIT Subscribe to NIT

By Tyler Dunne, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel –

GREEN BAY, Wis. — Rick Spielman appeared to be having a lot of fun this week. The Indianapolis Colts and Washington Redskins already had their picks pegged. Thus, it was Spielman’s world. His Minnesota Vikings were on the clock.

First, the general manager claimed his choice was down to three players. Then, he vowed the Vikings were fielding trade offers.

Nobody should have been fooled, though.

“I told our scouts and everybody that was in the room, ‘Let’s enjoy this process, because we’ll hopefully never be in this position again,’” Spielman said at a news conference Thursday.

It’s not a joyous time. But this was a necessary pick.

Each team in the NFC North drafted either a left tackle or an edge pass rusher. Pressuring and protecting the quarterback was the theme of the day.

So with its first-round pick, maybe Minnesota did take the first step toward competing with their division rivals. The Vikings traded down one slot — stealing Cleveland’s fourth-, fifth- and seventh-rounders — and still got the player they coveted all along in USC left tackle Matt Kalil.

Maybe cornerback Morris Claiborne could have helped Minnesota cover the wealth of spread offenses multiplying across the league. And maybe wide receiver Justin Blackmon would have been a shiny new toy for Christian Ponder. But the Vikings will try to catch their division foes from the inside out.

“With the pass rushers we see week in and week out to have a guy like Matt Kalil really gives us a chance to have a cornerstone for our organization for a number of years,” coach Leslie Frazier said. “With a young quarterback like ours, as you’re trying to really surround him with the best supporting cast, this gives us a great chance of getting that started now. It will be solidified for a number of years, so we’re excited.”

Spielman noted the wealth of pass rushers in the NFC North. Green Bay has Clay Matthews (and now Nick Perry), Chicago has Julius Peppers (and now Shea McClellin) and Detroit boasts both Cliff Avril and Ndamukong Suh.

After the Vikings allowed the fifth-most sacks in the NFL, protection on Ponder’s blind side was needed. Minnesota ran the risk of stunting his development, much like David Carr. The Houston Texans quarterback was beat up from the get-go after being selected first overall in 2002 and never recovered.

Once Spielman saw Kalil in person, he knew he had his man.

“I took him and his family out to dinner and they do eat pretty well,” Spielman said with a laugh. “You get a sense of what an offensive lineman is and what we’re trying to accumulate from an offensive line and the chemistry. The one thing he does have is he has passion for what he’s doing. And he fit that bill for us.”

Meanwhile, the Chicago Bears added another pass rusher in Boise State’s McClellin.

Bears general manager Phil Emery said he believes McClellin was one of the best defensive ends in the entire draft class.

“This pass rusher we felt very good about in terms of his natural ability,” Emery said. “He shows some natural things that the other ends did not show us to as high a level. His ability to bend, his pad level, to get from blocker to ball, to close the gap as quick as possible through the combination of quickness and instincts, we felt was better than most of the rest of the class.”

McClellin’s stock began to soar after the Senior Bowl. Working in linebacker drills, NFL scouts began to see just how versatile he was. That, in a strange way, worked in Chicago’s favor. As a 4-3 team, they planned on using McClellin at end.

“As we went through this process, he kept looking better and better,” Emery said.

The Detroit Lions? They opted for Iowa offensive tackle Riley Reiff 23rd overall. Considering Matthew Stafford’s rapid ascension, they wanted an insurance plan.

“Big, smart, tough guy,” Lions general manager Martin Mayhew said. “Versatile. We think he can play four positions. The guy is a three-year starter in a good program. Good solid offensive lineman.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

 characters available