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 twitter R. Williams (@OldSchBucFan98)
"Are Florida State defensive ends Bjoern Werner and Brandon Jenkins first-rounders?"
Right now, I would say they both are first-round picks . I think Werner (6-4, 255) has the better skill set for the NFL. He combines power, physicality and explosive speed. Werner has a huge upside as he is just tapping into his potential. Werner could return to college football in 2013, but a big season that he is perfectly capable of will probably push him into the first round.
Jenkins (6-3, 260) is a proven pass-rusher and the NFL draft always rewards players who have shown the ability to consistently get to the quarterback. Jenkins has totaled 21.5 sacks over the past two seasons, and he will probably enter the NFL having produced 30 sacks in college. The new wrinkle is that Jenkins just suffered a season-ending foot injury, so he will likley have a significant fall if he enters the 2013 NFL Draft. The senior should seek a medical redshirt to play again in 2013.
Jenkins is a great athlete and a pure speed-rusher, but he is more of a finesse player. Jenkins would be better as a 3-4 outside linebacker. That may limit him to certain teams, but he probably will grade out as a first-rounder if he can overcome any injury concerns next year.
From Graeme Smith, Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom
"Everyone seems very down on the Vikings chances to be competitive in 2012 and will be fighting it out for the #1 overall pick.
Do you see any way that the Vikings can surprise everyone and improve in 2012? They had an excellent draft and I think they could have found a real gem in CB Josh Robinson?"
If the Vikings weren't in the toughest division in football, I think they could have a bounce back season. If they played in the NFC West, they could be the second-place team.
That being said, I wouldn't be completely shocked if the Vikings are a surprise team this year. They have a good running game, and, obviously, Adrian Peterson is an elite player if he can stay on the field at or near 100 percent. Rookie left tackle Matt Kalil will be a huge upgrade and quarterback Christian Ponder should be better after getting a full offseason to improve.
I think Minnesota's secondary will get better as the year progresses. The team has the NFL's best pass-rusher, Jared Allen, along with other talents in the front seven. I have the Vikings picking in the top 10, like the consensus opinion, but I think they're a better team than others projected to be picking that high. Minnesota just has a daunting schedule. I do think the Vikings will be an improved team even if the record doesn't illustrate a more competitive season. So the answer is yes I do think the Vikings could surprise, and, even if their record doesn't show it, I believe they are an improved squad.
From Christopher Johnson, Fayetteville, Arkansas
"If Brian Quick and Chris Givens pan out for the Rams, do you see them taking a safety like Eric Reid and an offensive linemen like Barrett Jones instead of a lineman and wide receiver?"
I highly doubt that Quick and Givens will solve the wide receiver problems. I was not a fan of Quick after watching him at the Senior Bowl, and he hasn't been impressive in the early going. Quick may pan out as a pro receiver, but I doubt that will be clear after his rookie season. I think the Rams will still need a true No. 1 receiver next offseason.
If the St. Louis doesn't need a receiver, I think a safety wouldn't be the highest priority. The team invested a lot of picks and money into the secondary in the 2012 NFL Draft and in free agency. I believe the Rams would draft a left tackle and target other positions like outside linebacker and maybe a second offensive lineman. I think safety is possible, but after those positions.
From Brian McClanahan, Chicago, Illinois
"That's awesome to see your projection of the Bears picking 32 next April. How do you think the Bears can overcome the left tackle weakness?"
I'm high on Chicago this season, but honestly I don't feel great about that Super Bowl pick. I feel more confident picking Houston to get there, but lose. Two years ago, I was rock solid when I picked the Packers, and they proved me right by winning it all. I went with the Patriots last year, and they almost gave me two straight. I went with the Bears this year because I think everything is coming together for them this season. They have some elite talent, a good coaching staff and depth. Those are all essentials to make a postseason run.
The left tackle position is a weakness, but if you look at recent left tackles who won the Super Bowl, they aren't the elite of the NFL. Aaron Rodgers and Eli Manning have both made a habit of bailing out their lines. Drew Brees hasn't had a standout franchise left tackle protecting him. The top left tackle in the NFL, Cleveland's Joe Thomas, hasn't seen any postseason success. Teams have gotten around tackles with limitations, and great quarterback play is the ultimate trump card.
From Michael Wallover, Philadelphia, PA
"I've seen Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III in a lot of different commercials recently for many different products. Do you think that him doing so many commercials will affect how much time he has for preparing for games? I know now he can win with his athleticism, but as proven by QB Dog Killer, a quarterback has to learn what to do for each play."
The commercials shouldn't impact Griffin's game preparation. Those are typically filmed during the players' vacation time before training camp starts. On commercials during the season, those are filmed on Tuesday, the players one day off during the week. Sources have told me that Griffin is a studious player and a very hard worker. He has been putting in all the necessary time and going above and beyond in his preparation. I don't think the commercials will be a distraction for him. Peyton Manning has certainly proven they can be a non-factor.
From twitter MikeInTamp2, (@seneca1ss)
"Would you have taken LB Luke Kuechly or S Mark Barron if you were the Bucs? (I wanted Luke but Barron looks like a stud two)"
I had Kuechly as my seventh-overall player available entering the 2012 NFL Draft. I had Barron lower, so I would have gone with Kuechly. He is an absolute force in run and pass defense. I think Kuechly will have a bigger impact on a down-by-down basis compared to a safety like Barron.
If you're taking a safety that high, he better turn into an Ed Reed- or Troy Polamalu-like presence for your defense. Safeties also can be very injury prone in the NFL (see Bob Sanders, among others). I think Kuechly is going to have a career similar to, or better than, the Bears' Brian Urlacher. Thus, I would have gone with Kuechly.
That being said, I don't think Barron was a bad pick for Tampa Bay. The Bucs had nothing at the position and there was a big drop off after Barron. I think both Barron and Kuechly will have good careers, just with Kuechly being slightly better.
From J.P. Bauman, Battle Creek, Michigan
"Did Le'Veon Bell's big night to start the season vault him into first-round consideration?"
No, not yet. It is too early to put Bell up that high. He was fantastic against Boise State. While his running carried the Spartans to a win, his blitz protection and pass-receiving skills impressed me the most. Bell showed the ability to be a true three-down back in the NFL.
That being said the junior still has more to prove. The one thing I wonder about Bell is if he is too slow and not explosive enough to hit the hole in the NFL. The Big Ten has produced a number of good college backs who don't have the burst to get to the hole before it closes in the NFL. Former Wisconsin Badger and New York Giant Ron Dayne could be the most famous example. Bell is around 6-foot-2, 240-pounds and it might be a good idea for him to trim down some for the next level.
Working against Bell and all other running back prospects is the NFL downgrading ball-carriers in general. I think he currently looks like a second-day pick.