When it comes to this year’s NFL Draft there are few certainties. However the picture at the top of the draft gets a little more clear as the days go by. One thing that will not change from today until April 26th is USC Offensive Tackle Matt Kalil’s standing as the best prospect at his position. After spending the past few years with the Trojans as Matt Barkley’s blindside protector and not allowing a sack as a junior, Kalil will make a team very happy in the top five when they use the pick on him. He’s got just about everything that teams want in a franchise left tackle and has a tremendous blend of size and athleticism that sets him apart from all the other offensive tackles in the class. Kalil’s father played in the NFL and his brother, Ryan, is starring with the Panthers. Matt is sure to follow in those footsteps and make his mark on whatever team drafts him, the same way he did at USC.
Matt Kalil joined XX Sports Radio in San Diego with Darren Smith to talk about how the combine experience went for him, if being at the combine makes him feel like a piece of meat, on how much his family background of football was brought up in interviews, if he hears all the good things that have been said about him and the fact that many experts think he will be a high first round pick, and how Matt Barkley would be doing during this process if he would’ve declared for the draft.
How the combine experience went for him:
“It’s kind of funny because growing up you watched the combine on TV and just kind of observing and like ‘oh yeah that’s cool’ you see a bunch of guys running on the field doing all those position drills and you really think that’s all there is to it. Then training for it you still don’t really have an idea until you go through all of it. The hours on end going through the medicals, getting checked up, any past injuries you have they will find out so there is really nothing you can hide from them. So going through that, team interviews, the drug test, and everything they do it’s just such a long process. You really just do all the workouts at the end when you’re kind of worn out from the whole process and I think that’s the whole point, kind of to get the guys out who aren’t really ready for that and find the guys who can handle all that stress, all that lack of sleep, and basically perform on game day when it comes time.”
If going through the combine made him feel like a piece of meat:
“It’s kind of funny; it kind of feels that way. Coaches interviewing you to see what kind of person you are but it definitely felt like a piece of meat when you’re going out there and they measure every part of you and you walk in your tights in the middle of center stage and everyone is watching you and just seeing what you look like. That was pretty funny but it was a good process. The interviews went really well. A lot of teams want to know about your family and all that and any background history which I didn’t have. That definitely made it a lot easier. (Host: Are you comfortable in tights?) You learn to get comfortable in tights because you’re pretty much in them 90 percent of the time so you kind of learn to get used to having spandex and showing off my white legs.”
How much his family background in the NFL came up during interviews:
“I think it is definitely important to them to see if you’re really all about football. That’s what they want to hear. They want to know if you’re all in to football and you’re going to dedicate 100 percent of your time and to have a family that has been involved in football, my father being in the NFL and my brother going through USC and now in the NFL, it definitely helps and I think they want to know if you’re all in and if football is what you want to do. I think they got that vibe from me. I’m 100 percent football oriented and I’ve spent my whole life playing football and it’s a big part of who I am so definitely got good vibes from all the meetings.”
Whether he listens to what people say about him and the idea that he will be a high first round pick:
“It’s hard not to focus on it when it’s on everywhere but my main focus is always improving my craft. From being a player and certain type of coaches I have had, you’re really not praised for what you do good and what coaches do to get the best out of their players, you’re coached on what you do bad. I think that’s what makes SC such a good place. Our offensive line coach, Coach Craig, every once and a while he will praise you for what you do good but in order to be a great coach you have to tell your players what you have to improve on and what they need to do to improve any sort of weakness in their game. I think that’s what makes the good coaches from the great coaches is being hard on their players and telling them any little thing they need to improve on.”
How Matt Barkley would’ve done during the combine process:
“He would’ve killed it definitely. Matt is a great athlete, super smart quarterback, great leader, great student, and everything you’re looking for in a having a great quarterback. Like I said before he made the right decision for him and he’s going to great things this year, open a lot of eyes, and mark my words he’s probably going to be the first pick in the draft this year.”
Are you happy Barkley went back to USC?
“I’m happy for him. He’s going to do great things over there. He’s going to win the Heisman, he’s going to win the National Championship, and he’s going to do everything he said he’s going to do. He’s one of the biggest competitors I’ve ever been around and he usually doesn’t say things he’s not going to do and that’s one of the biggest reasons he came back.”