INDIANAPOLIS -- USC tackle Matt Kalil validated his athletic credentials with a fast 40-yard time at the NFL scouting combine Saturday.
Kalil, listed by some as a candidate for St. Louis with the second choice in the 2012 draft, unofficially needed only 4.96 seconds to cover the standard testing distance, according to the NFL. Kalil has emphasized getting bigger and stronger to improve as a run blocker, but teams will value him primarily for his athletic ability. Any offensive lineman can take pride in a 40-yard time beneath five seconds.
Kalil weighed 306 pounds, heavier than his college playing weight.
Former NFC West mainstay tackles Walter Jones and Orlando Pace, first-round picks in 1997, beat the five-second threshold easily before becoming regular Pro Bowl players. Jones clocked in the 4.65-second range coming out of college. Pace ran in the 4.85-second range and averaged 4.9 during predraft workouts.
Jones was 301 pounds coming out of Florida State. He filled out to about 325 pounds. Kalil stands 6-foot-6 and appears capable of packing on additional weight without much trouble.
I question whether the Rams would use a high choice for an offensive tackle this year. They need playmakers to boost a scoring offense that ranked last in the NFL last season. They have Rodger Saffold at left tackle and could bring back right tackle Jason Smith, the second overall pick in 2009. Smith has had concussion problems. The Rams have not spoken with him about adjusting his salary, but that appears likely to happen if Smith does return.
Minnesota might be a more likely landing spot for Kalil. The Vikings pick third overall. Kevin Seifert has more on the NFC North blog.