Here is the second edition of the Monday Morning Draft - a column that delves into the past weekend's action from a 2013 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.
By Charlie Campbell.
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Blow For Barkley:
There will be a lot of turnover as the season progresses in the positioning of which team will land the No. 1-overall pick to have the first shot at USC quarterback Matt Barkley. Here are the top contenders following the Week 2 action.
The Browns lost another close game; this time to the Bengals. Quarterback Brandon Weeden played much better throwing for 322 yards and two touchdowns, but it wasn't enough as Cleveland's defense and special teams let them down.
Last week, the Browns' defense played a great game in holding down the Eagles' offense, but Cleveland's offense was unable to take advantage. The defense intercepted Michael Vick four times, but Weeden gave the ball back with four interceptions of his own.
The Browns that intangible of a "loser instinct." They find ways to get a loss when victory is possible and therefore, remain the favorite for the No. 1 pick.
Oakland jumps into the rankings after getting blown out by Miami. That was an embarrassingly bad performance as the Dolphins couldn't play competitive football against the Texans last week. Oakland is 0-2 after losing six days earlier to the Chargers.
The Raiders are in rebuilding mode. Salary-cap restrictions and a lack of draft picks made it hard for Oakland to bring in talent to its roster. It looks like a long year in the Black Hole.
Jacksonville didn't put up much of a fight as Houston cruised to a win. The Texans' defense suffocated the Jaguars and Houston's ground game controlled the ball.
Jacksonville looked improved over last season in Week 1, but the Jaguars still lost to another bad team as the Vikings dropped them in overtime.
The Jaguars don't have enough talent around quarterback Blaine Gabbert. Their offensive line and receiving corps are overmatched. Jacksonville has a terrible secondary on the other side of the ball, too. The team just doesn't have the talent on its roster to avoid a top-10 pick.
Kansas City Chiefs:
I still think the Chiefs will come together and be a competitive team, but they are 0-2 after getting dominated by the Bills. There is a possibility that Kansas City could go down the toilet as quarterback Matt Cassel is very limited. He threw for 300 yards and two touchdowns, but the scores came in the fourth quarter after the game was already decided. Cassel also had an interception and lost fumble.
The Chiefs have to get a long-term quarterback, so they should make some bold moves to get a franchise signal-caller.
The Vikings lost by a field goal to the Colts. Minnesota is 1-1, but has split games with two bad teams. The Vikings, at home, barely beat the Jaguars in the season opener.
Minnesota is in the best division in football, so it is going to be difficult for the team to produce a sizable win total. If the Vikings had an easy schedule, it might be a franchise that surprises, but life is going to get a lot harder than the Colts and Jaguars.
Let's Play Matchmaker:
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.
New Orleans Saints: Kawann Short, DT, Purdue
The Saints' defense continued to struggle as the Panthers ran for 219 yards on New Orleans. The Saints lost at home to Washington last week, plagued with defensive breakdowns once again. New Orleans needs a difference-maker on the inside of its defensive line.
Short is disruptive against the run and a superb pass-rusher. He has three sacks already this season after recording 12.5 sacks the past two seasons. Short (6-3, 310) is very fast and has some functional power. He would be an immediate upgrade to the Saints' pass rush and run defense.
New England Patriots: Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M
The Patriots allowed Tom Brady to be sacked four times against Arizona, and the protection for him hasn't been up to par dating back to last season. New England could use a talented young edge blocker. Even if Nate Solder pans out at left tackle, the team could use some more talented youth on its line.
Matthews is a powerful blocker who can lock down defensive linemen in run and pass blocking. Texas A&M has a lot of success running behind him and he was a superb pass protector for Ryan Tannehill last year. Matthews body is still developing, even if he is already 6-foot-5 and 305 pounds. Matthews looks versatile enough to warrant consideration for a move to left tackle, or possibly guard if his NFL team would like to bring him along gradually.
Arizona Cardinals: Matt Barkley, QB, USC
The Cardinals won at New England despite the play of quarterback Kevin Kolb. He didn't lose the game for Arizona, but the team didn't win because of him. Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald had only one catch for four yards. It is criminal that the Cardinals could only get Fitzgerald one reception. They need a quarterback like Barkley who is skilled at getting the ball to his play-makers.
While Barkley went 0-4 against Stanford in his collegiate career, he still is the most NFL-ready quarterback available in the 2013 NFL Draft. The senior has completed 61 percent of his passes this season for 818 yards, 10 touchdowns and three interceptions. He does a good job of getting the ball to receivers Robert Woods and Marqise Lee. Arizona needs a quarterback like that to get the ball to Fitzgerald and 2012 first-rounder Michael Floyd.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State
The Buccaneers were destroyed through the air as Eli Manning threw for 510 yards while New York amassed more than 600 yards of total offense. Giants wide receiver Hakeem Nicks dominated Tampa Bay cornerback Aqib Talib to the tune of 10 receptions for 199 yards and one touchdown. Bucs head coach Greg Schiano kept his corners playing press man at the line of scrimmage even though they were getting torched.
Rhodes is a good man corner who is capable of playing press-man coverage. He shut down Notre Dame wide receiver Michael Floyd at the end of 2011. The 6-foot-2, 215-pound Rhodes has the size to matchup on big receivers with the speed to turn and run downfield. He could be a shutdown corner in the NFL.
Pittsburgh Steelers: Marcus Lattimore, RB, South Carolina
The Steelers want to play smash-mouth football with a tough ground attack, but they don't have the workhorse back to be the engine for a ground offense. Rashard Mendenhall is still working his way back and Isaac Redman is nothing special. Lattimore would be a perfect back for Pittsburgh's offense.
Lattimore is a power back who is physical and quick. He is adept at pounding the ball between the tackles and getting yards after contact. Lattimore has averaged 4.9 yards per carry this season and amassed 235 yards and four touchdowns. The 6-foot, 220-pounder would be a perfect fit with the Steelers' identity.
Dallas Cowboys: John Jenkins, DT, Georgia
The Cowboys had the Seahawks run the ball down their throat on Sunday with Marshawn Lynch totaling 122 yards on 26 carries. Dallas could use a big body on its defensive line to help give the team a run-stuffing presence to use against running teams. Many thought the Cowboys would draft J.J. Watt in 2011 or Dontari Poe in 2012; perhaps they can find a run stuffer next year.
Jenkins is one of the top run-defending linemen in college football. The 6-foot-3, 358-pounder is a load at the line of scrimmage who plugs his gap and eats up blockers to free up linebackers. He would be perfect in the NFL for a 3-4 defense.
New York Jets: Stepfan Taylor, RB, Stanford
The Jets had no running game against Pittsburgh. Shonn Greene (11-23) and Bilal Powell (9-33) were ineffective against the Steelers. New York can't get its ground-and-pound offense going without any talent at running back. The Jets need a stud running back to make their offense work.
Taylor was a beast against USC and led the way for Stanford to upset the second-ranked Trojans. He has totaled 338 yards and three touchdowns in three games this season. Taylot ran for 1,330 yards and 10 touchdowns last year and 1,137 yards and 15 touchdowns as a sophomore. The 5-foot-11, 215-pounder has three-down ability and could be a steal on the second day of the 2013 NFL Draft.
Team Draft Report:
In this section, we take a deeper look at specific teams and where they stand in regards to the 2013 NFL Draft.
The Bills rolled the Chiefs and produced 35 points despite quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick throwing only 19 passes. He completed 10 of them for 178 yards and two touchdowns, but Buffalo won because running back C.J. Spiller produced 123 yards on only 15 carries. Buffalo is 1-1, but the team hasn't featured the scoring offense that many believed it was capable of.
The Bills have to find a long-term starting quarterback next April. Fitzpatrick isn't good enough for Buffalo to get by New England in the AFC East. The Bills are going to need a true franchise signal-caller in order to have a shot at the Patriots and competing in the post-season. Fitzpatrick doesn't have a strong enough arm and is too brittle.
Buffalo needs to upgrade its wide receivers, too. Steve Johnson is a good one, but the team needs more around him. The Bills' offense has been too dependent on Fred Jackson and now Spiller. If those backs don't have a big day, chances are Buffalo is going to lose. The Bills needs to build up some receivers around a talented young quarterback. Finding some long-term building blocks for the passing offense should be the team's focus next offseason.
The Titans are 0-2 and have lost both games in convincing fashion. Tennessee's offense has looked dreadful to start the season with major problems in the ground game. The offensive line has been a horrible weakness, so the Titans have not been able to get the ground game going.
The most troubling sign of the early going this season for Tennessee, is that running back Chris Johnson seems to have lost his fastball. It looks like he has the running backs verion of David Carr Syndrome from seeing so many defenders stack his running lanes. It has rendered him indecisive and ineffective.
Given the massive contract that Johnson was given, the Titans have to start upgrading their offensive line to get a return on their investment. They need the most help on the inside, but if they could land an upgrade at tackle, they would have to consider it.
Tennessee should also think of using a second-day pick on a running back in case Johnson is past the point of reclamation. There should be some nice backs available in the third or fourth round that the Titans could target in order to have a replacement for him.
Tennessee's offense isn't the only weakness. The Titans need help along the defensive line and at cornerback. Using their first-round pick in the 2013 NFL Draft for a defensive end, a cornerback or an offensive lineman would all make sense. Perhaps Tennessee should dangle Johnson on the trade market if his contract wouldn't prevent a deal. He has totaled 21 yards on 19 carries this season. Maybe the Titans should try and get something for him while they still can.
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