Sports

USC tackle hoping to follow big footsteps

Matt Kalil has the pedigree.

The USC offensive tackle comes from a family of professional offensive linemen and played at a school that has a history of producing great ones.

"That guy will still be starting 10 years later," Rams general manager Les Snead said. "It's up to him. He's got to have the want-to to actually make it happen. He can be a starter in this league for a long time."

Kalil's father, Frank, was a center at Arkansas and Arizona and was an 11th-round draft choice of the Buffalo Bills.

He instead played two seasons in the USFL with the Arizona Wranglers and the Houston Gamblers. Kalil's older brother, Ryan, is a three-time Pro Bowler with the Carolina Panthers, who made him a second-round pick in 2007.

"I would say bloodlines are important," Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert said. "You see the case of the Matthews family. Obviously, there are great bloodlines there.

"I think your chances are good that if a guy comes from a family of great players he might be a great player. That doesn't guarantee anything, though."

Indeed, Kalil's bloodlines and his school's history aren't the main reasons Kalil is expected to be the third overall pick of the Minnesota Vikings.

He is 6-foot-7 and weighs 306 pounds. He ran a 4.99 in the 40-yard dash at the Scouting Combine and benched 225 pounds 30 times. Vikings general manager Rick Spielman said Kalil plays with a nasty demeanor.

Some scouts have called Kalil the best tackle prospect since Tony Boselli was the second overall pick of the Jaguars in 1995.

Boselli, like Kalil, played at USC. He is one of three offensive linemen from the school to be selected in the top three of an NFL Draft, joining Ron Yary, the No. 1 overall choice in 1968, and Anthony Munoz, the third overall pick in 1980.

Former USC tackle Tyron Smith was the ninth overall pick of the Cowboys last season. No school has had top-10 drafted offensive linemen in consecutive drafts since Texas sent Leonard Davis (2001) and Mike Williams (2002) to the NFL.

"I would definitely say I am the best tackle in the draft," Kalil said. "Especially at my position, confidence is definitely a big part of your game.

"I think they want to hear that you do think you're the best tackle, and I think I am. I think I've worked hard going through SC, working on everything I can to become a better player. I'm ready to take my game to the next level."

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