If the Minnesota Vikings pass on Southern California offensive tackle Matt Kalil with the third overall pick in the NFL Draft, would the Browns nab him at No. 4?
It’s a decision the Browns might face April 26. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Kalil is not a lock to become the Vikings’ top selection because they’re also considering Louisiana State cornerback Morris Claiborne, Oklahoma State wide receiver Justin Blackmon and Notre Dame wide receiver Michael Floyd.
Meanwhile, the Browns traveled to conduct a private workout with Kalil on Wednesday, a league source confirmed for the Beacon Journal. Kalil also paid a pre-draft visit to the Browns’ headquarters earlier this month.
The 6-foot-7, 306-pound Kalil is the top-rated offensive lineman in the draft. In 2009, he served as USC’s backup right tackle and started one game. He then switched to left tackle and started all 25 games in that spot during the past two seasons.
The Browns need a starting right tackle, but ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. believes that they don’t have the luxury to draft Kalil if he falls to them. Alabama running back Trent Richardson and Blackmon are the most logical candidates for the Browns at No. 4, Kiper said.
“This team needs skill players,” Kiper said Wednesday during a conference call. “It would be great to say you could bring Matt Kalil in, but are you gonna pass up a running back like Richardson? Are you gonna pass up a wide receiver like Blackmon?
“The worst skill-position talent in the NFL is in Cleveland, and I’m not talking about the quarterback [Colt McCoy] ’cause the quarterback had no chance. He didn’t have a fighting chance with the talent around him. So I can’t see [the Browns drafting Kalil]. Again, you’re woefully lacking [playmakers].
“I think, Kalil, Claiborne, Blackmon and Richardson are all bunched together, and you just take the one that you feel you need the most. Another offensive lineman brought into the mix [in Cleveland], I would not go that route, no. It’s nice to do all your due diligence, but I would go the route of the skill position players or else you’re going to be spinning your wheels again.”
Rather than using a top-five pick on a tackle to play opposite perennial Pro Bowl selection Joe Thomas, Kiper said the Browns could wait until early in the second round (No. 37) to find a prospect capable of starting on the right side of their offensive line.
The Browns have brought in several right tackle candidates for visits, including Stanford’s Jonathan Martin, Ohio State’s Mike Adams and California’s Mitchell Schwartz. They also have worked out Georiga’s Cordy Glenn, Midwestern State’s Amini Silatolu and Oklahoma’s Donald Stephenson.
Kiper named Mississippi’s Bobby Massie, Iowa State’s Kelechi Osemele and Florida State’s Zebrie Sanders as other prospects to watch.
“I think the best scenario would be Massie at 37,” he said.
What about QB at No. 4?
Kiper also favors the idea of the Browns picking Richardson or Blackmon at No. 4 instead of Texas A&M quarterback Ryan Tannehill. Kiper believes Tannehill needs a couple of years to develop before he can become a successful starter.
“Richardson or Blackmon would make sense,” Kiper said. “I don’t like taking running backs in the top 10 or in the first round for that matter, but for this team and what Richardson brings you, you don’t need anybody else at that spot. He can carry the workload. He can catch. He’ll block. He doesn’t fumble. He can return kicks if you want. He runs inside. He runs outside. Richardson, I think, is the third-best player in the draft.
“You’re picking fourth. You don’t want to get the sixth-, seventh-, eighth-best player. They have to make a decision on Tannehill. I can just tell you if you think he’s going to beat out Colt McCoy this year and be able to lead them to victories, I think that would be a tremendous upset and be tremendously optimistic to expect that to happen.”
Southern California defensive lineman Armond Armstead has a pre-draft visit scheduled with the Browns for this week, the Sacramento Bee reported.
Doctors cleared the 6-5, 295-pound Armstead to play football after he experienced chest pains and was briefly hospitalized, but USC would not allow him to return to action this past season. NFLDraftScout.com projects him to go undrafted because of his medical concerns.
Armstead played tackle and end during his career with the Trojans. He had 17 starts and 59 tackles, including 10½ for loss and two sacks.
Nate Ulrich can be reached at email@example.com. Read the Browns blog at http://www.ohio.com/browns. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/NateUlrichABJ and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/browns.abj.