Monday Morning Draft – Week 7

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.

By Charlie Campbell.
Send Charlie an e-mail here: [email protected]
Follow Charlie on Twitter @draftcampbell for updates.

Blow For Barkley/Stink for Smith:

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 7 action.

Jacksonville Jaguars:
The Jaguars blew a big lead on the road to the Oakland Raiders. It was an embarrassing loss for Jacksonville that was made worse by Maurice Jones-Drew and Blaine Gabbert going down with injuries. Surprisingly, Chad Henne was worse than Gabbert. The Jaguars fall to 1-5 on the season, and could easily be 0-6.

Jacksonville’s lone win came when it stole a game from Indianapoliss with a last-minute 80-yard touchdown pass from Blaine Gabbert to Cecil Shorts.

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 talent on its roster to avoid a top-10 pick. The Jaguars could definitely finish 1-15.

Kansas City Chiefs:
Kansas City had a bye on Sunday. The Chiefs were rolled by Tampa Bay a week ago, and quarterback Brady Quinn was incapable of making any plays against a defense that has allowed big plays this year. Kansas City is now 1-5 on the season.

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. They’ve been tied or trailed in every minute of regulation play.

Cleveland Browns:
The Browns fell to 1-6 after a tight loss to the Colts. Cleveland scored 21 points in the fourth quarter to pull out a 34-24 win over the Bengals last week.

Cleveland previously played close games in other contests, but were unable to get wins over the Eagles, Bengals or Bills. The Browns have that intangible of a “loser instinct.” The team find ways to get a loss when victory is possible. Even with this win, Cleveland is a top candidate to land the No. 1 pick.

Carolina Panthers:
The Panthers fell to 1-5 after being dropped by Dallas 19-14. Apparently Ryan Kalil was a little off the mark with his preseason Super Bowl prediction for Carolina. The Panthers have been a mess this year. Cam Newton is stuck in a sophomore slump, and the defense has had some ugly outings.

The schedule could send Carolina reeling with road games at Chicago, Washington and hosting Denver in the next three weeks. The Panthers have winnable games against Tampa Bay, New Orleans, Kansas City and Oakland on their schedule. Carolina could be headed to a 3-13 season.

Oakland Raiders:
The Raiders improved to 2-4 on the season, but they beat the Jaguars at home and that is nothing to brag about. Oakland played Atlanta tough a week ago 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. Oakland has some play-makers on offense, but looks likely to have a double-digit loss season.

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.

Jacksonville Jaguars: Matt Barkley, QB, USC
Any hopes of Chad Henne being an upgrade over Blaine Gabbert were dashed on Sunday. Henne stunk in his opportunity after Gabbert left the game with an injury. Neither Henne (9-20 for 71) nor Gabbert (8-11 for 110) are the long-term answer as the starting quarterback for Jacksonville.

The senior Barkley hasn’t been having as a good of a year as he did in 2011, but he is still the safest quarterback prospect. The Jaguars aren’t in a position to take a risk, so if they can land Barkley, he would make a lot of sense. The senior has completed 66 percent of his passes for 1,773 yards, 22 touchdowns and six interceptions this year. If Barkley finishes the year strong, that should solidify his stock as a high first-round pick.

New York Jets: Barkevious Mingo, DE/OLB, LSU
The Jets’ defense struggled to pressure Tom Brady and couldn’t get any pass rush on him late in the fourth quarter when the Jets needed it the most. New York sacked Brady once on a blitz by David Harris. The team badly needs to find a pass-rushing outside linebacker who can rush off the edge.

New York probably won’t be drafting high enough to land Georgia’s Jarvis Jones, but there should be some other immediate upgrades available. Mingo would be that. He is lightning fast off the edge and is very disruptive. Mingo recorded eight sacks last year, and has three sacks so far this season. All three have come in the last four games. He has been more disruptive than the numbers indicate and would be a perfect fit as a 3-4 outside linebacker.

Baltimore Ravens: Manti Te’o, ILB, Notre Dame
The Ravens’ defense needs a young difference-maker to replace Ray Lewis. Baltimore’s defense just hasn’t looked the same this year, and the team’s stop unit needs a bigger presence in the middle of the defense. Houston rolled the Ravens on Sunday as they were incapable of stopping the Texans.

Te’o has been phenomenal for the Fighting Irish this season. He has been a force defending the run and an asset in pass defense in the middle of the field. Te’o’s totaled 69 tackles, three passes broken up and four interceptions. He is a three-down play-maker who would be a great replacement for Lewis.

Arizona Cardinals: Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M
The Cardinals’ offensive line has been pitiful all season, and it is no surprise that the line was completely overmatched against the Vikings. Minnesota’s defense produced seven sacks, a forced fumble and a pick-six. Arizona has to find a suitable left tackle next offseason.

The top first-round left tackle prospect is Joeckel. He just had a phenomenal game shutting down LSU defensive end Sam Montgomery. Joeckel has had a superb junior season. He has the athleticism to handle speed rushers and is a strong run-blocker. There is upside with Joeckel, and he could be a franchise left tackle. The junior would be an immediate upgrade for Arizona.

Green Bay Packers: Marcus Lattimore, RB, South Carolina
The Packers have been getting superb play from Aaron Rodgers, but a lack of a running game is really putting too much pressure on the signal-caller. Green Bay was led in rushing by Alex Green against St. Louis. Led is a strong word as he totaled only 35 yards on 20 carries. The Packers cleary don’t have a workhorse who can make Rodgers job easier.

One running back who certainly would be up to the task is Lattimore. The talented junior has averaged 4.5 yards per carry for 597 yards and 10 touchdowns, plus he is still gradually regaining his speed and explosiveness since 2011’s season-ending injury. Lattimore is a three-down back who would fit Green Bay’s offense nicely.

Carolina Panthers: Da’Rick Rogers, WR, Tennessee Tech
Cam Newton’s sophomore slump continued against the Cowboys. He threw for only 233 yards, a touchdown and an interception. Carolina needs to find more weapons for him to work with this offseason. Steve Smith (7-83) is nearing the end of the line, and Newton needs some play-makers to make his job easier.

The Panthers will probably have to go defense in the first round, so adding a potential No. 1 receiver will be a challenge. One who could be had on the second day of the draft is Rogers. He has the size and speed to be a true No. 1, but off-the-field issues will probably send him to the second day.

Rogers has 45 receptions for 716 yards and eight touchdowns so far this season. He had 67 receptions for 1,040 yards and nine scores last year at Tennessee. Rogers has big-time potential to work with if his head is on straight – kind of like the Panthers starting quarterback.

Washington Redskins: Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas
The Redskins’ secondary let the team down again in a winnable game, and that is becoming a common refrain this year. A 77-yard touchdown pass to Victor Cruz in the final 90 seconds wasted good games from rookies Robert Griffin III and Alfred Morris.

Washington would be damn lucky to land Vaccaro in the second round. He has played really well for Texas this year despite the struggles of the Longhorns’ stop unit. Vaccaro has totaled 48 tackles, two interceptions, two passes broken up and a forced fumble. He has been consistently around the ball. The senior is a well-rounded player and a good deep safety who also can defend the run in the box.

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.

New Orleans Saints:
The Saints have a veteran roster that definitely needs some talent upgrades at multiple positions. New Orleans has maybe the worst defense in the NFL. Its secondary is incapable of covering receivers downfield, and the taem struggles to generate a pass rush or stop the run. If Drew Brees were to get knocked out of the lineup, the Saints would probably lose every game they played without him.

New Orleans has to find some talent for its stop unit during the offseason. Defensive end Will Smith looks washed up, and finding a pass-rusher is a critical need. Sedrick Ellis has been a non-factor, and neither veteran is justifying his salary. If the Saints have dollars for free agency, they should consider signing a free agent defensive end like Tampa Bay’s Michael Bennett, Detroit’s Cliff Avril or Cincinnati’s Michael Johnson.

In all likelihood, New Orleans will be drafting for defense in the first round next April. If the Saints go with defense, they should take the best defensive player, regardless of position. If Alabama cornerback DeMarcus Milliner is the best defender on the board, they should take him; or if it is Utah defensive tackle Star Lotulelei; or if it is LSU defensive end Sam Montgomery. New Orleans has to find a play-maker for the stop unit. In a perfect world, it would be an elite edge-rusher.

Complicating matters for the Saints is that left tackle Jermon Bushrod is entering free agency after the season. If they don’t re-sign him, then the team will have to consider a left tackle to protect Brees with its first-rounder.

New Orleans is also without its second-round pick, but the Saints should use the mid-rounds to devote some picks to the defense in hopes of finding a diamond in the rough. New Orleans will have an interesting offseason, and the time is now to take advantage of having a quarterback like Brees.

Seattle Seahawks:
The Seahawks don’t have any superstar house hold names, but this young squad is building into a team that can compete with anybody. Rookie quarterback Russell Wilson has been impressive and should only get better as he gains experience. On the defensive side of the ball, Seattle has a talented young stop unit that, so the next draft should have a focus on helping Wilson.

The Seahawks moved James Carpenter from tackle to guard, so landing a right tackle is a priority. A perfect fit would be Texas A&M right tackle Jake Matthews. Given that Seattle will probably be picking in the middle or latter half of the first round, it would have to use its first-rounder to land Matthews. If the Seahawks waited until Round 2, they could consider Alabama right tackle D.J. Fluker.

Seattle could use a big receiver, too. The Seahawks tried washed up veterans like Antonio Bryant and Terrell Owens before the season, so their receiving corps is obviously needing more talent. The team should consider using its first-rounder on California’s Keenan Allen or Baylor’s Terrance Williams. Both have size and speed to help Wilson in each level of the field. Seattle could land help on the second day of the draft with an in-state product like Washington State’s Marquess Wilson. Adding a couple of receivers wouldn’t be a bad idea.

If the Seahawks can address right tackle and wide out early, they would be in a position to add more for their defense. An outside linebacker to go next to Bobby Wagner would be a welcome addition. They also could use a pass-rushing defensive end.

There is a lot to like about some of the moves Seattle has made to improve its team, but the Seahawks need to build some receiving threats to help Wilson in his development. Finding talent to help their signal-caller up front and downfield has to be the top priority next April.

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