Pair of Panthers' brothers are strong line prospects

jperson@charlotteobserver.comFebruary 24, 2012 

— After meeting with the media Thursday afternoon, Southern Cal offensive tackle Matt Kalil was leaving Lucas Oil Stadium when someone asked him to stop.

"Hey, Matt," Panthers coach Ron Rivera said. "Hold on."

After Rivera finished a conversation with a reporter, he walked out of the stadium with Kalil, considered the top offensive lineman in the draft.

The Carolina Panthers already have one Kalil on their roster - Ryan, their Pro Bowl center whom they locked up last August with a five-year contract extension. And given where Matt Kalil is projected to be drafted, they likely won't add another one.

But Rivera was eager to meet a player he'd heard a lot about.

"What I've learned from Ryan, you can see there seem to be some family similarities just in terms of his approach to the game," Rivera said. "He sounds like a real cerebral young man."

You couldn't walk through the stadium's club level Thursday without bumping into a sibling of a Panthers' lineman. Besides Kalil, Cal offensive lineman Mitchell Schwartz, brother of Panthers guard Geoff Schwartz, also is in Indianapolis for the NFL scouting combine.

Schwartz and Kalil received similar advice from their brothers on how to approach the combine: Be yourself.

"He was telling me that the coaches appreciate that," Matt Kalil said. "The coaches want to know what you're about. There's nothing you can hide from them that they won't find out. Just be yourself and be up front with all these coaches in all the interviews."

Kalil, 6-foot-6 and 306 pounds, met Wednesday with Panthers assistant offensive line coach Ray Brown. Kalil characterized the meeting as informal, thanks in part to Ryan, one of the biggest practical jokesters in the Panthers' locker room.

Mitchell Schwartz is one of several Pac-12 linemen in Indy. The others are projected as first-round picks: Stanford's Jonathan Martin and David DeCastro and Kalil, whom many analysts believe will go No. 3 overall to Minnesota.

Schwartz is projected as a second- to fourth-rounder, but said he does not feel overshadowed.

"No, it's good to be there. It's good to compete against them," Schwartz said. "I've seen a decent amount of them on film and it's just good to go out and compete with them."

Schwartz, a 6-6, 318-pound tackle, thinks it would be fun to play with his brother, who is a restricted free agent after spending last season on injured reserve following hip surgery.

"I don't think there's ever been two sets of brothers on the same team," Schwartz said. "I think it would be cool to play with my brother, and the same with" the Kalils.

But even after meeting Rivera and visiting with Brown, Matt Kalil isn't sure Carolina is in the cards.

"They have a great All-Pro left tackle in Jordan Gross," Kalil said. "We're definitely just talking. It was pretty informal. But who knows?"

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