Matt Kalil's departure closes the book on underwhelming run with Vikings

MINNEAPOLIS -- On April 26, 2012, the Minnesota Vikings made Matt Kalil the second-highest drafted offensive lineman in franchise history, with the intention he'd be their left tackle for much longer than five years.

The USC tackle, whom the Vikings took fourth overall after trading back one spot in the draft, was widely considered one of the surest things in a draft littered with players (Robert Griffin III, Trent Richardson, Justin Blackmon, Morris Claiborne, Mark Barron) who didn't turn out as hoped. Though injuries provide extenuating circumstances in Kalil's case, and though the Vikings were interested in keeping him as their left tackle, it's probably safe at this point to include the 27-year-old's time in Minnesota with the list of 2012 supernovas.

He reached the Pro Bowl in 2012 after an outstanding stretch of play during the Vikings' run to the postseason, but signs of a sophomore slump were evident as early as the 2013 preseason, when Buffalo Bills end Jerry Hughes burned him in the second exhibition game. Knee problems forced Kalil to have surgery after the 2013 and 2014 seasons, and 2014 saw Vikings fans focus their ire on him (particularly after a loss to the Green Bay Packers in which he was penalized three times). He was better in 2015, and said last spring he hadn't needed offseason surgery for the first time since the spring after his rookie year. But just as the Vikings hoped Kalil might be regaining his rookie form following a solid training camp, he limped off the field during an August practice and was put on injured reserve in September with a torn labrum in his hip.

Kalil's departure to the Carolina Panthers -- as reported by ESPN's Adam Schefter Thursday morning -- means he'll pair up with his brother, five-time Pro Bowl center Ryan Kalil. In many ways, that might be the best thing for the younger Kalil; he'd married a Minnesota girl, found a home here and talked about playing the rest of his career for the Vikings, but he could be rejuvenated by the chance to play with an older brother he's long considered a role model.

Meanwhile, as the Vikings search for a new left tackle, Kalil's departure means their highest draft pick in 27 years didn't pan out. They'd initially drafted Kalil to protect the blindside of Christian Ponder, the quarterback they'd taken 12th overall the year before; they now have to fill a spot to protect the blind side of Sam Bradford, the third quarterback on whom they've spent a first-round pick in the past six years.

Kalil and Phil Loadholt -- the only two linemen the Vikings have taken higher than the fourth round since 2009 -- are both gone. And the Vikings will close the book on the run of a left tackle that didn't perform as they'd hoped.