I received many e-mails and tweets about my 2013 NFL Mock Draft and the upcoming NFL Draft in general. To share the answers to the questions publicly, I decided to start up a mailbag column. Pass along your NFL draft questions and comments. I'll put together a mailbag periodically that answers questions/comments sent via email firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @draftcampbell.
From twitter Justin Wall (@jwalluww)
"What position do you think teams will draft Alabama offensive lineman Barrett Jones at?"
Right now. I would say center or guard. In some ways that is surprising because he was a First-Team All-SEC and First-Team All-American left tackle last season. Jones shutdown LSU defensive end Sam Montgomery, a likely first-round pick in 2013 or 2014, and pretty much every defensive end he went against. Alabama has moved Jones to center for his senior season, and I think he will enter the NFL as an interior linemen, most likely at center.
The main reason is body type. At 6-foot-5, 311-pounds, Jones fits the mold of an interior linemen more than a tackle. The NFL is trending towards bigger tackles with long arms. That calls for players in the 6-6/6-7 range and weights in the 320-340 range. Big bodies with length and some foot quickness are desired for matching up on speed-rushers. Jones may not have the desired arm length. With his run-blocking and mobility, he should be an instant difference-maker for his NFL team.
Assuming Jones stays at center this year, he will have started on the inside of the line for three out of four collegiate seasons. Jones is extremely intelligent, so coaches will love his ability to make the line calls that are placed on many centers in NFL offenses.
Jones looks like a top-25 pick at the moment, and he could turn into a prospect on a par with Steelers guard David DeCastro, Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey and Dolphins center Mike Pouncey. Those have been the three best interior linemen to come out in the last three years.
From Justin Ambrose, Denver, Colorado
"I hate that you and Walt have the Broncos picking in the middle of the first round of your mocks. Peyton Manning will be all the difference this year. He's a lock for the comeback player of the year."
First of all, the NFL is made to have new division-winners on a yearly basis, and the AFC West has other contenders. Manning is in his mid-30s; before the injuries he was already declining physically. Now he's had four neck surgeries, and there are rumors around the league speculating how truly healthy the signal-caller is.
The Broncos' defense was hit-and-miss at times last year, plus the team wasn't winning when it was using a pocket-passer early in the year. I think Denver will definitely have a competitive team, but I'm not convinced the Broncos have improved drastically over last year's squad. They didn't upgrade their wide outs or their offensive line. Plus, both Walt and I think Kansas City will be good this year, although I think San Diego has the capacity to be a surprise team.
Right now, my pick for Comeback Player of the Year is Buccaneers defensive tackle Gerald McCoy. The past two seasons he was playing excellent football before torn biceps injuries ended each season. I spoke with a coach from an AFC West team a few months ago who was doing some film study to prepare for playing Tampa Bay this season. The coach said that McCoy was phenomenal against Atlanta in 2011 and was dominating the line of scrimmage. He also played a great game against the Colts before getting injured. McCoy was really coming on and turning into a difference-maker.
McCoy hasn't gotten much help from the Bucs organization. He's had three different defensive line coaches in three years, and is now on his second defensive scheme. Those coaches have all taught different techniques, so McCoy has spent his preparation time learning new concepts rather than mastering and refining coaching points he's all ready developed.
Continuity makes a massive difference in the NFL, but McCoy has had none. Another new change this year for McCoy is that he will have some two-gap responsibilities. In college and his first two years in the NFL, McCoy played one gap with the assignment to cause disruption by firing through his gap. That fit him well, so it will be interesting to see how he adjusts.
Despite these challenges, I think McCoy will have an excellent season in 2012 as long he can stay healthy. He has tons of talent and has flashed the ability to resoundingly defeat NFL offensive linemen. If McCoy can stay on the field, he has big-time upside.
From Mike Perry, Madison, Wisconsin
"I liked the Packers draft but am concerned that all of the top three rookie defenders played in 4-3 schemes in college. Do you think that could lead to them not working out for the Packers?"
No, I don't think that will be an issue at all. It is funny you ask, because I was discussing that very topic with some family friends in Wisconsin two months ago. At a retirement banquet for my parents, I spoke about that with our family veterinarian Dr. Bill Carisle, U.S. Representative Paul Ryan and Carthage College senior administrator Paul Hegland. All three are huge Packer fans and raised the same concern.
Outside linebacker Nick Perry (first round), defensive end Jerel Worthy (second round) and cornerback Casey Hayward (second round) played in 4-3 defenses in college and will have to transition to the 3-4. I don't see that being an issue for any of the three.
Before gaining weight prior to his senior season, Perry was playing in the 250s and 260s and many thought he would be best in a 3-4 in the NFL. Perry could easily trim down to add more agility to play in space. Green Bay took him for his pass-rush ability, and rushing off the edge is the strength that made him a first-rounder.
Worthy looks like a better fit as a 3-4 end than a 4-3 tackle. He was inconsistent in college at tackle. There were times when Worthy was dominantly blasting by linemen and disrupting the backfield. However, there were also frequent stretches during which he just held his ground and was quiet. For Green Bay, all Worthy needs to do is set the edge and stay tough at the point of attack. That's perfect for him, and he fills that void of a nasty, physical end who was lost when Cullen Jenkins signed with the Eagles.
The Packers like bigger corners who are ballhawks. Hayward is just under six-foot, yet totaled 13 interceptions the past two seasons with 21 passes broken up. He is a great fit in Green Bay's secondary.
Green Bay, like all NFL 3-4 teams, can't be too picky; not many college teams run 3-4 defenses - Goergia and Stanford are among the few. The 4-3 scheme is run by the vast majority of programs. Even Alabama runs a hybrid scheme using three- or four-man defensive lines. Oklahoma and Florida are putting in some more 3-4 packages, but overall the 4-3 style is run by the vast majority of schools.
As a result, NFL teams have to project players with the ability to transition into a 3-4. Perry, Worthy and Hayward all look like they have the traits to do it, so I'd be surprised if any of those three picks didn't pan out for Green Bay. Ted Thompson is head and shoulders above the majority of NFL general managers; he knows what he's doing.
From Dan Paulson, Grandview, Missouri
"The Chiefs obviously don't have their long-term quarterback on the roster. Do you think they'd be better off drafting a pocket passer like Oklahoma's Landry Jones or a running quarterback like Virginia Tech's Logan Thomas?"
I would go with Thomas. He has more upside and his running element could combine well with Jamaal Charles and Peyton Hillis to form the No. 1 rushing offense in the NFL. Plus, Thomas has the big arm to hit passes downfield to Dwayne Bowe and Jonathan Baldwin. Thomas would make Kansas City's offense more diverse than Jones.
From Ryan Sturtz, Richmond, Virginia
"How do you like the Redskins receivers meshing with Robert Griffin III?"
I think Washington has a nice stable that should work extremely well with Griffin. His deep-ball accuracy is just uncanny and truly unique. The Redskins have a talented array of speed receivers who can get open downfield. With Washington's running game, Griffin should be able to go deep to his receivers in the play-action game with safeties focused on the run.
Obviously, Santana Moss has been getting it done for a long time, and the team was raving about how he was looking this spring. Josh Morgan was really playing well in 2011, and is capable of a big year. Pierre Garcon has good speed, too, while second-year wide out Leonard Hankerson was a dangerous deep receiver at Miami. Sources have told WalterFootball.com that, as a whole, the Redskins have a nice group of receivers. They should really complement Griffin's strengths once he learns the pro game.