Here is the seventh 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.
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 or West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith. Here are the top contenders following the Week 10 action.
Kansas City Chiefs:
The Chiefs play at the Steelers on Monday night, so that's a sure bet to have Kansas City fall to 1-8 on the season. The Chiefs lost on the road last week to a reeling Chargers team on Thursday night. Kansas City haven't played competitive football in weeks. Quarterbacks Brady Quinn and Matt Cassel have been ineffective this season, so the prospects of Kansas City getting on a roll are zero.
Shockingly, the Chiefs actually have never had the lead in regulation this season. The only lead they had was when they beat the Saints in overtime. Kansas City has been tied or trailed in every minute of regulation play.
The Colts cruised over the Jaguars in Jacksonville on Thursday night. The Jaguars fall to 1-8 on the season, and could easily be 0-9. The team's lone win came when it stole a game from Indianapolis with a last-minute 80-yard touchdown pass from Blaine Gabbert to Cecil Shorts in busted coverage.
The Jaguars don't have enough talent at quarterback, offensive line and wide receiver to be competitive this season. The team has a terrible secondary on the other side of the ball, too. Jacksonville just doesn't have the skill on its roster to avoid a top-10 pick. The Jaguars could definitely finish No. 1-15 on the season.
Cleveland had a bye on Sunday. Last week, the Browns fell to 2-7 at the hands of rival Baltimore. Cleveland pulled out a 7-6 win over the Chargers the week before.
The Browns previously played close games in other contests, but was unable to get wins over the Eagles, Bengals or Bills. Cleveland is still a candidate to land the No. 1 pick.
The Panthers dropped to 2-7 after getting rolled by Denver. Carolina seemed to be headed in the right direction with a road win over Washington last week. The Panthers had a nice team efforts offensively and defensively to beat the Redskins.
A few weeks ago, Carolina was up 19-7 in the fourth quarter before Chicago came storming back to win 23-22. The Bears have been on a roll, so even in that loss the Panthers showed signs of progress.
Carolina still has winnable games against Tampa Bay, New Orleans, Kansas City and Oakland on its schedule. The Panthers could be headed to a 4-12 season.
Oakland fell to 3-6 after losing on the road to Baltimore. Two of the Raiders wins came against the Chiefs and Jaguars, so that is nothing to brag about. More impressive than those wins was when Oakland played Atlanta tough on the road and tied the game at 20 with 40 seconds remaining. The Falcons' Matt Bryant made a 55-yard field goal with only seconds left to beat the Raiders.
The previous regime traded for Carson Palmer and drafted Terrelle Pryor. New general manager Reggie McKenzie and head coach Dennis Allen won't hesitate to start their rebuilding process with a franchise quarterback if there is one available that they like.
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 York Giants: Chance Warmack, G, Alabama
The Giants' offense struggled against the Bengals. The Giants had four turnovers in the second half, and their offensive line was beaten for four sacks. New York has an old offensive front and needs some talented youth to open up running lanes with improved pass protection for Eli Manning.
Warmack would be a great fit for the Giants. He can blast open running lanes for Ahmad Bradshaw, Antonio Brown and David Wilson. Warmack also is a solid pass-protector who has the athleticism to handle speed-rushers. His powerful base and pad level make him impossible to bull rush. New York could land Warmack with its first-round pick.
San Diego Chargers: Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State
The Chargers' secondary has more holes than Swiss cheese, and it was exploited, once again, on Sunday. San Diego has a lot of needs on its roster, but some talent for the secondary could be the most pressing. Rhodes would be a great fit for the Chargers because he is a physical player. They are too finesse on both sides of the ball, and they need more players that can set the tone with physicality.
Teams have largely stayed away from Rhodes this season as he has maintained good coverage all year. Rhodes has 29 tackles, two interceptions and six passes broken up. He shutdown Notre Dame wide receiver Michael Floyd in the 2011 season finale. This season, Rhodes held up well against Clemson and its speed receivers. He looks like a first-round pick for the 2013 NFL Draft and could be within range for San Diego.
San Francisco 49ers: Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas
The 49ers have a great defense, but their safety play has been a weakness at times. A play-making safety would really help San Francisco's run defense and the deep portion of the secondary. The team's safety play was issue on Sunday as Steven Jackson hurt the 49ers, and they had busted coverage on a 36-yard touchdown to Brian Quick. Vaccaro's gritty style of play would fit well with San Francisco's defensive identity.
Vaccaro has been a rock-solid player this season even though Texas' defense has been disappointing. He has totaled 67 tackles (42 solo), 4.5 tackles for a loss, two interceptions, three passes broken up and two forced fumbles. Vaccaro doesn't have any sacks, but he has shown some nice blitzing ability. Vaccaro covers a lot of ground with plus instincts. He would be a good selection for the 49ers in the first round next April. Perhaps they could trade up from their second-rounder if Vaccaro falls into Friday night.
Detroit Lions: Kevin Minter, ILB, LSU
The Lions' defense was ripped up by the Vikings' offense, and the weak middle of Detroit's stop unit was exposed. Adrian Peterson ran over the Lions' defense with 171 yards and a score on 27 carries. Detroit was also gouged by tight end Kyle Rudolph for 64 yards and a touchdown on seven receptions. The Lions' defense needs a difference-maker in the middle.
Minter has been superb for LSU this season. He is a speedy defender who has the ability to go sideline-to-sideline. Minter is a hard hitter and a good tackler. He has good instincts to get in position to make plays and also is disruptive even when he doesn't make the play. Minter has 90 tackles, 11.5 tackles for a loss, three sacks, an interception, forced fumble and five passes broken up in 2012. The junior is a physical player who will bring a presence to any defense he plays for.
Oakland Raiders: Damontre Moore, DE, Texas A&M
Once again Oakland's defense was terrible at getting pressure on the quarterback. Joe Flacco carved the Raiders up on Sunday and they couldn't get any pass pressure on the signal-caller. Flacco needed only 21 completions on 33 attempts to total 341 yards and three touchdowns. The lack of a pass rush has hurt Oakland all season.
Of all the draft-eligible players in college football, Moore is the most consistent pass-rusher. The junior has been dominant as a defensive end this season. He has 12.5 sacks, 74 tackles and 20 tackles for a loss. Moore has recorded at least one sack in 9-of-10 games this season. He had 8.5 sacks and 72 tackles as an outside linebacker in 2011.
Moore could use more weight for the NFL, but he is a young player with a ton of upside. Moore already has a nice repertoire of moves with a great motor. He would be an immediate upgrade over the Raiders' current defensive ends.
Atlanta Falcons: Alex Okafor, DE, Texas
The Falcons' defense had major issues with stopping the Saints' offense in Atlanta's first loss of the season. Drew Brees needed only 21 completions to get 298 yards and three touchdowns, while Jimmy Graham (7-146), Chris Ivory (7-72) and Mark Ingram (16-67) all had good days against the Falcons' defense. Atlanta managed one sack of Brees, and that came from a linebacker. The Falcons could use a balanced defensive end to pressure the quarterback and help their run defense. If the Atlanta has a shot at Okafor late in the first round, the team should grab him since he would be a perfect fit.
Okafor (6-4, 265) has the size and ability to play end in a 4-3 defense but also the speed and athleticism to function as a 3-4 outside linebacker. He has played both techniques at Texas. Defensive coordinator Mike Nolan could use Okafor in a variety of ways, and he would be a real asset as a replacement for John Abraham.
Okafor has demonstrated his pass-rush ability with 8.5 sacks and three forced fumbles this season. He has defended the run well with 46 tackles, including a nine-tackle game against Iowa State and a 13-tackle day versus Kansas. Okafor had seven sacks last year and is a well-rounded, experienced player. He would be a good value for the Falcons late in the first round.
Dallas Cowboys: Dallas Thomas, G, Tennessee
Dallas' interior offensive line has been a problem for far too long. Philadelphia took advantage on Sunday with good games out of Fletcher Cox and Cullen Jenkins. The Cowboys tend to go for heavier guards and tackles, but that hasn't provided Romo with good interior pass-protection. Perhaps Dallas should make a concerted effort to get more athletic and quicker on the inside to handle pass-rushers coming up the middle. Thomas (6-5, 310) isn't very undersized, and he could add some weight in an NFL strength and conditioning program.
Thomas has really taken well to the guard position this year. He has been a rock solid pass-protector for Tyler Bray while also opening up holes in the ground game. Thomas started at left tackle for 25 games for Tennessee, but his body type makes him a better fit at guard in the NFL. Thomas would be a quick upgrade for the Cowboys in their ability to protect Romo. They could target him by trading up to an early pick in the second round.
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.
It is a foregone conclusion that the Eagles are going to dump quarterback Michael Vick this offseason, and there's no reason to bring the dog killer back. He's been overrated throughout his career as he has never been a reliably accurate or consistent quarterback. Head coach Andy Reid is also on his way out, and, after his long tenure, it may be time for Philadelphia to get a fresh approach. Philadelphia needs to make the break this offseason and build around Nick Foles.
This team has needs on both sides of the ball. Defensively, the Eagles have to do something at the cornerback position. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie is a free agent, and he hasn't earned a big contract extension. Nnamdi Asomugha has been a major disappointment since signing his massive contract after leaving the Raiders.
Philadlphia could look into the free agency route with a veteran like Aqib Talib, but probably would be better off saving the money and using its first-round pick on a cornerback. Alabama's DeMarcus Milliner, Florida State's Xavier Rhodes or Mississippi State's Johnthan Banks would be worthy of a first-round pick depending on where the club lands in the top 20.
The Eagles could also use a safety. This looks like a strong class for safeties, and they could land a quality prospect on Day 2. Oklahoma's Tony Jefferson, LSU's Eric Reid, Florida's Matt Elam, Georgia's Bacarri Rambo or Shawn Williams would all be worthy of a second- or third-round pick to help fortify Philadelphia's back end.
On offense, the Eagles need to upgrade their offensive line. Being without left tackle Jason Peters has really hurt. They could use some more talent to compete at guard and right tackle.
Philadelphia is an organization at a crossroads with Vick on his way out and Reid likely following behind him. There is some talent for a new coach to work with so, a new boss won't be walking into a mess like the team below.
I traveled to Jacksonville to see the Jaguars in person last Thursday night. It was crystal clear that the Jaguars' roster is a complete mess. The team has a serious lack of talent that puts it at a disadvantage whenever its players step on the field. Jacksonville has the least talented roster in the NFL; General manager Gene Smith is likely to be fired at the end of the season as a result.
The new general manager will walk into a difficult situation with a ton of roster needs. The new hire will at least have plenty of salary cap room to try and fill some of the holes in free agency, plus should have some high draft picks at his disposal.
The first decision that has to be made is regarding quarterback Blaine Gabbert. The second-year pro has improved - the Jaguars' new coaching staff deserves a lot of credit for generating better play - but it is clear that Gabbert doesn't have what it takes to be a long-term starting quarterback in the NFL.
Jacksonville doesn't have the luxury of an Andrew Luck- or Robert Griffin III-type quarterback prospect available next April. If the Jaguars don't fall in love with USC's Matt Barkley or West Virginia's Geno Smith, they could look to possibly trade down to acquire more picks to address the roster at more spots.
If Jacksonville goes that route, the front office should sign a veteran capable of starting in free agency. It will be a tough decision, but in this writer's opinion, the Jaguars shouldn't pass on Smith or Barkley if either is available. The decision on Gabbert is job No. 1 of the new general manager.
There are so many other areas of the roster that need to be addressed. The offensive line is probably the next priority. Outside of Eugene Monroe, Jacksonville needs to upgrade the line across the board. Rookie backup center Mike Brewster is said to have impressed the new coaching staff with long-term developmental potential, but the team needs to upgrade its guard and right tackle positions. Alabama guard Chance Warmack, right tackle D.J. Fluker or center/guard Barrett Jones would be a great pick at the top of Round 2.
The Jaguars also need improved talent at wide receiver. Rookie Justin Blackmon has been a disappointment and may only end up being a No. 2 receiver in the NFL. Jacksonville's secondary is horrible. and the team will have to remodel its cornerbacks and safeties. The Jaguars will have to configure a secondary with newly signed veterans and rookies.
Jacksonville's roster is so devoid of talent the new general manager will have to strongly consider taking the best player available regardless of position.