@cplach Hargrave can play both DE and NT, and we also picked up Mathews from the Chargers. Both are vast improvements over Cam Thomas and Cliff Geathers. As for RB I agree that we're going to need some depth there, maybe rounds 3-5.
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 [email protected] or on Twitter @draftcampbell.
From Jake Kallen, from Lafayette, California
"I was curious what you thought of the Texas pass rushing duo, Jackson Jeffcoat and Alex Okafor. I have read mixed reports on them and I have not really seen enough tape to see if they have consistent motors. Your thoughts?"
I think both Jeffcoat and Okafor are ascending young players. Jeffcoat started off the 2011 season extremely slowly. He had zero sacks and three tackles for a loss in the first six games. After that, Jeffcoat flipped the switch and finished the year with 7.5 sacks in the final seven games. He also had 54 tackles and 16.5 tackles for a loss last season.
The 6-foot-5, 245-pound Jeffcoat needs to fill out his frame, but he has real potential. Jeffcoat has a some serious quickness and athleticism. He is still developing, but I think he has the potential to turn into a impact player with a sack total in the double digits this season.
Texas uses Jeffcoat in a variety of ways. He's rushed as a standup outside linebacker, put his hand in the ground as a defensive end, dropped into pass coverage as a linebacker and even played some defensive tackle. As a result of that variety, Jeffcoat lost some pass-rushing opportunities last year, and he could have had a bigger total if the Longhorns had let him go after the quarterback in every possible passing situation.
For the NFL, I think Jeffcoat may fit best as a 3-4 outside linebacker, but he could be a 4-3 defensive end. I think the junior will develop into a first-round pick, and, with his skill set, he could go in the top-20.
Okafor had a breakout year last year. He was a disruptive force for the Longhorns, assembling 50 tackles, 12.5 tackles for a loss, seven sacks, three passes batted and two forced fumbles. The junior was a First-Team All-Big XII selection.
Okafor is a well-rounded pass rusher and run defender. At 6-foot-4, 260-pounds, he is more developed physically than Jeffcoat, but the latter has the more natural talent.
Okafor is a speed-edge rusher coming around the corner. He has a good get-off when the ball is snapped, and his quickness puts tackles on their heels. Okafor has nice agility to drop his hips and shoulder so he can turn the corner. Okafor should work on adding/refining some more pass-rushing moves for the NFL - along with adding 10-15 pounds of bulk if he plays in a 4-3 defense.
Like Jeffcoat, Okafor has lined up in a variety of places. He has done a lot of stand-up edge-rushing over the tackle along with blitzing over interior linemen as a linebacker. Okafor definitely has the length and athleticism to be an outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense.
From Tim Vadasz,
"I read your article on assistant coaches that are Hall of Fame worthy, and I couldn't help but say that former Redskins offensive line coach Joe Bugel most definitely deserves to be on that list as well."
From Mike Keck, Lebanon, Pennsylvania
"The late great Eagles defensive coordnator Jim Johnson should be in the hall of fame. His eagles defenses were great."
From twitter Vince Gonzalez (@G0nzilla32),
"Nominations: Gary Kubiak (Denver offensive coordinator), Wade Phillips, Mike Martz (Rams offensive coordinator) and Alex Gibbs (offensive line coach)."
I definitely agree on Jim Johnson. His defenses were phenomenal, and he has to be one of the best play-calling defensive coordinators in league history. The uncanny way Johnson knew when to call the right blitz is legendary. He should be a no-brainer for the Hall of Fame.
I also agree on Joe Bugel, Alex Gibbs and Gary Kubiak. They were the drivers of the zone-blocking scheme for an offense and that changed offensive football in the NFL. Kubiak could be on the cusp of greatness in Houston as a head coach as well.
Martz had a great run with the Rams, but really disproved himself to a degree with his coordinator performance in San Francisco, Detroit and Chicago. I think it would take some convincing but he's worthy of a debate.
Wade Phillips is an interesting candidate. He owns a career winning percentage of .581 as a head coach, but struggled in January. Phillips has led some good defenses with the Bills, Broncos, Chargers, Cowboys, Texans and others. However, he doesn't have a Super Bowl championship on his resume. If Phillips can win a ring in Houston with Kubiak that could make him much more competitive.
It has been a lot of fun to get the feedback on the coordinators. I think it is clear that the fans of pro football agree that assistant coaches belong in the Hall of Fame.
From John Nelson, Birmingham, Alabama
"I have a question about Denard Robinson. He's an amazing athlete, and he's been incredibly productive over the past 2 years. He's put up nearly 2,900 yards on nearly 5.8 yards a carry, just rushing the ball. I tell you why I'm not including his passing yards, is because I think he should be considered a first round running back, going into next years draft. He just has the ability to pass the ball as well, making him a bigger threat in the endzone, I say that because no one in the NFL really runs the wildcat much anymore. He's 6'0 197 which makes him a little small to be a every down back in the NFL, I can understand that. Did you know, he's actually bigger than Chris Johnson? Other than last years dissapointing year, which wrecked my fantasy football team, he's had a pretty stellar career. Chris Johnson 5'11 190lbs Denard Robinson 6'0 197. So what am I missing here, why is it that he doesn't even make it to the 4th round in alot of peoples mock draft. I think people are missing something, or am I wrong?"
It always takes some time for a projection player like Robinson to move up rankings. If he has a big senior season, you can bet there will be plenty of debate and attention about how Robinson fits in the NFL. I'm sure there will be some arguing he can stay quarterback, move to receiver, go to running back and maybe even move to defensive back. A great athlete like Robinson will certainly initiate a passionate debate.
That being said, I agree with you that Robinson should move to running back for the NFL. In my opinion, he is not a natural enough passer to be a quarterback and lacks the necessary arm strength. If Robinson could add some weight, that would be preferable to be a running back. He could be a nice quick slashing option as part of a running back stable. The Wolverines' signal-caller will definitely need to learn being a receiver out of the backfield and picking up blitzers.
Robinson still will be a project as a runner, especially with his running style. His body lean and pad level don't mimic a running back as often as needed. Because there is so much to project and hope that he develops, Robinson is looked at by many as a late-rounder. As a running back I think, he would be a third-day pick in the Round 4-6 range.
Pat White didn't work out in the NFL, and there are some similarities with Robinson. If the senior wants an NFL career, he has a lot to prove this year and beyond.
From Mark Thomas, Cincinnati, Ohio
"Charlie you have the Packers over Texans in the Super Bowl, who are some dark horse teams that you think could get to there?"
There are a few teams that I really like and have considered putting at No. 31 and No. 32 in my mock draft.
The first among them is the Bears, although they aren't getting to be much of a dark horse. I think Arizona is a sleeper, but I really like what Chicago has done this offseason. Aside from bringing in a true No. 1 receiver in Brandon Marshall, I love the depth that Chicago has accumulated. Last year and in past seasons, injuries to key players really sunk the Bears at the end of the season.
This year, Chicago has quality backups throughout the team, along with some of the best special teams units in the NFL. Roster depth and special teams play are the underrated X factors that have to produce to get a team to the Super Bowl. The Bears have strong depth throughout the roster. They have good backups at quarterback, running back, the defensive line, linebacker and in the secondary.
The team also has young talent that could really make an impact late in the season and in the stretch run. I think defensive end Shea McClellin and defensive tackle Brian Price could really come on in the second half of the season after they have some time being developed by defensive line coach Rod Marinelli. The key for Chicago is getting the offensive line to do its job.
In the AFC, I think a surprise team could break out aside from the usual contenders like New England, Pittsburgh and Baltimore. I don't have one team in particular that I feel strongly about, but there are a few teams that I think are capable of having big seasons. The Chiefs, Chargers, Jets and Bills are the teams that I think could be a lot better than the general opinion. I think those teams are the serious candidates to be this year's 49ers.