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Here is the second edition of the Monday Morning Draft - a column that delves into the past weekend's action from an NFL Draft perspective. As the season goes on, the draft picture and slotting will become more clear, but every Sunday will provide a few hints for next April.
As the season progresses, there will be a lot of turnover in the positioning of which team will land the No. 1 overall pick to have the first shot at Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck. After the Week 2 action, here are the top contenders at this time.
Seattle was shutout in the first half for the second straight week, but this week against the Steelers the shutout was extended for the entire game as the Seahawks lost 24-0. As I wrote last week, "Their starting quarterback is Tarvaris Jackson. Their backup is Charlie Whitehurst. Clearly the quarterback of the future is not on this roster."
Helping Seattle to stay in the lead in the �Suck for Luck� standings is that their offensive line is one of the youngest lines in the NFL. The offensive line has first-rounders from the last two drafts in Russell Okung and James Carpenter. They also start Max Unger (third season) and rookie John Moffitt at guard. All of those players need time to develop, which will hold back the Seahawks� offense in 2011.
The quarterback position is a clear weakness. With Seattle starting 0-2 and featuring that line with those quarterbacks, they are the early favorites for Luck.
Kansas City Chiefs:
Kansas City was dominated at home by the Buffalo Bills, laying a 41-7 egg in the first week of the season. In Week 2, the Chiefs were traveling to take on the surging Detroit Lions, and once again Kansas City got blown out, dropping the game 48-3 .
Veteran quarterback Matt Cassel will turn 30 just after the 2012 NFL Draft, so it would make sense to groom a young quarterback with a veteran playing into his 30s. After all, Cassel had a terrible game against Detroit, completing 15-of-22 passes for 133 yards with three interceptions. Kansas City also lost running back Jamaal Charles to a torn ACL against Detroit, and losing him will be a massive blow to the Chiefs. The Chiefs� offensive line (and really entire offense) wasn't able to match up with the Lions defense, but it all starts with the quarterback and Cassel doesn't look like the long-term answer for Kansas City.
The Colts played a tight game with the Browns, but fell to 0-2. Indianapolis just lost one of their more winnable games this season. Losing games to bad teams is how a team lands the No. 1 overall pick. Right now, there is no certainty as to when Peyton Manning will return, and he could miss the entire season. Without Manning and losing to Cleveland, the Colts could be headed to a season with 1-3 wins and a strong possibility for the No. 1 pick.
Miami dropped to 0-2 with a loss to the Houston Texans. Chad Henne was inaccurate and not protected well by the Dolphins� offensive line. Those look like problems that are going to plague Miami all season. Henne completed only 12-of-30 passes. Miami is clearly the worst team in the AFC East, so they have a good shot to be at or near the top of the 2012 NFL Draft.
The Browns beat the Colts sans Peyton Manning, so they have nothing to brag about. Cleveland quarterback Colt McCoy had an improved performance this week, but he didn't have a big game. He completed 22-of-32 passes for 211 yards and one touchdown. Entering the fourth quarter, Cleveland had only 13 points against Indianapolis. The Browns will stay in the derby for Luck right now because they are going to face much tougher opponents in the weeks to come.
Let's Play Match-Maker:
This section will look at some of the top talent in college football and match those prospects up with teams that have a dire need at the position.
Carolina Panthers: Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU
The Panthers have cornerback issues, and aside from finding quarterback Cam Newton a long-term No. 1 receiver, getting a top cornerback is a vital necessity for the Panthers. Aaron Rodgers completed 19-of-30 for 308 yards with two touchdowns and zero interceptions. Packers wide receiver Jordy Nelson sealed the win with an 84-yard touchdown run late in the game. Carolina is trying to get Chris Gamble turned around, and that may or may not pan out. Their other starting cornerback is Captain Munnerlyn. Munnerlyn (5-8, 186) is a midget and would be best as a nickel corner.
Morris Claiborne had a two-interception game last Thursday night against Mississippi State, and he would be real upgrade for Carolina. Perhaps they could land Claiborne in the second round or trade up into the end of the first round for him. That would allow them to get South Carolina wide receiver Alshon Jeffery or Oklahoma State wide receiver Justin Blackmon with their first pick.
Kansas City Chiefs: Matt Kalil, OT, USC
The Chiefs� offensive line had issues with the Detroit Lions' defensive line. Ndamukong Suh and Kyle Vanden Bosch generated sacks and the Lions� defense was able to completely dominate Kansas City. The Chiefs were hoping to land offensive tackle Nate Solder in last year's draft, and getting the top left tackle in this year's draft could be a big help to the Kansas City ground game and passing game.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College
Over the 2009 and 2010 season, the Buccaneers had one of the worst run defenses in the NFL. Their run defense and gap integrity were atrocious against the Vikings on Sunday. The Tampa Bay defense is fortunate they were able to pull out the game as Minnesota running back Adrian Peterson had a huge game. They were able to defend him in the third quarter, but in the first half and fourth quarter Peterson ran well. He totaled 120 yards on 25 carries with two touchdowns.
Luke Kuechly had 23 tackles on Saturday against Duke, and now leads the nation with 58 tackles in three games. That comes after he led college football with 183 tackles in 2010. It will be hard for Tampa Bay to be a legit Super Bowl contender until they can have the semblance of a run defense.
Minnesota Vikings: Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame
The Minnesota Vikings' offense is missing a go-to receiver. Percy Harvin is a good receiver, but they need a primary option that can consistently get open and move the chains. Wide receivers Bernard Berrian and Michael Jenkins struggled to get separation from the Buccaneers� defensive backs on Sunday. Jenkins has three catches for 29 yards and Berrian had one catch for 17 yards.
Getting separation is an innate ability for Floyd. His size (6-3, 218), speed, physicality and route-running make him a constant mismatch. Floyd has 397 yards on 31 receptions with two touchdowns thus far this season. He would work well with Harvin, and Floyd could be a big time weapon in the Vikings� offense.
Arizona Cardinals: Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa
Levi Brown, Arizona�s left tackle, almost got quarterback Kevin Kolb killed with a massive blind side hit on Saturday. Kolb saw some pressure from the Redskins and Brown also had a poorly timed false start penalty. In order for Kolb and wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald to be the connection that Arizona envisions, they are going to need a left tackle that can protect Kolb.
Arizona probably won't be drafting high enough to land the top left tackles in USC's Matt Kalil or Stanford's Jonathan Martin. Reiff is a top 20 pick who had a good game against University of Pittsubrgh defensive end Brandon Lindsey on Saturday. Adding a pass protector like Reiff would be a big improvement for Arizona.
Miami Dolphins: Levy Adcock, OT, Oklahoma State
The Dolphins had a lot of protection issues against the Houston Texans on Sunday, especially on the right side of the offensive line. Adcock might be a better fit as a right tackle in the pros, as his size (6-6, 325) could push him in that direction. He would definitely help the Dolphins� passing attack and could upgrade their running behind the right side. Miami could get Adcock on the second day of the draft.
Email me your questions and comments at: firstname.lastname@example.org. We plan to do a mailbag column to go up later in the week.
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