Monday Morning Draft – Week 8

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 8 action.

Jacksonville Jaguars:
The Jaguars played the Packers better than expected, but Jacksonville lost again. The Jaguars fall to 1-6 on the season, and could easily be 0-7. 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 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.

Kansas City Chiefs:
Kansas City lost at home to Oakland on Sunday. The Chiefs were rolled by the Bucs a couple of weeks ago before a bye. Quarterbacks Brady Quinn and Matt Cassel have been ineffective this season, so the prospects of Kansas City getting on a roll seem dim at best. The Chiefs are now 1-6 on the season.

Kansas City actually has never had the lead in regulation this season. The only lead the Chiefs had was when they beat the Saints in overtime. Kansas City has been tied or trailed in every minute of regulation play.

Carolina Panthers:
The Panthers fell to 1-6 after blowing a lead to the Bears. Carolina was up 19-7 in the fourth quarter before Chicago came storming back to win 23-22.

Apparently Ryan Kalil was a little off the mark with his preseason Super Bowl prediction for the Panthers. The team has been a mess this year. Cam Newton is stuck in a sophomore slump, and the defense has had some ugly outings.

Carolina still has winnable games against Tampa Bay, New Orleans, Kansas City and Oakland on its schedule. The Panthers could be headed to a 3-13 season.

Cleveland Browns:
The Browns improved to 2-6 after a 7-6 win over the fading Chargers. San Diego is capable of losing to the worst of the NFL on any given Sunday.

Cleveland previously played close games in other contests, but was unable to get wins over the Eagles, Bengals or Bills. Even with this win, the Browns are still a candidate to land the No. 1 pick.

Oakland Raiders:
The Raiders improved to 3-4 on the season after winning their second straight, but they’ve beaten 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.

Dallas Cowboys: Barrett Jones, C, Alabama
The Cowboys neglected the weak interior of their offensive line this offseason and it has come back to bite them this year. It continued to be an issue versus the Giants on Sunday. New York defensive tackle Chris Canty had a big day pressuring Tony Romo up the middle of Dallas’ line.

Jones would be an immediate upgrade for the Cowboys. He is a superb pass-protector and a truly rare center who has shown the ability to be a good pass-blocker as a left tackle. Jones has been tremendous blocking in the ground game for Mark Ingram, Trent Richardson, Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon over the past four years. Jones would be a great addition for Dallas.

New York Jets: DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Clemson
The Jets’ offense was incapable of making any big plays against the Dolphins. New York’s receivers are lacking talent and play-making ability. Perhaps Stephen Hill will develop into a play-maker, but, even if he does, the Jets will need more receiving talent to work with. If New York could land Hopkins at the top of the second round, that would be ideal.

Hopkins has been Clemson’s best receiver this year, and that is saying something with Sammy Watkins on the same team. Hopkins is one of the most productive receivers in the nation in 2012 with 58 catches for 909 yards and 10 touchdowns. He has the speed to stretch defenses vertically and can score on any reception.

Philadelphia Eagles: Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State
Matt Ryan and Julio Jones torched the Eagles’ secondary on Sunday. Nnamdi Asomugha has not been the dynamic corner that Philadelphia thought it was getting, and the Eagles could part ways with Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie after this season in free agency. Finding an upgrade at corner is a clear need for Philadelphia.

The Eagles won’t be selecting high enough to land Alabama’s DeMarcus Milliner, so they could go for Rhodes in the middle portion of the first round. He is capable of playing man and zone coverage. Rhodes brings size and physicality to the position with some ball skills that go largely unnoticed because teams rarely throw at him. He has 25 tackles, two interceptions and six passes broken up this season. Rhodes and Johnthan Banks are the next best options after Milliner.

Chicago Bears: Oday Aboushi, OT, Virginia
The Bears badly need a left tackle as once again Jay Cutler had another game with too much pass pressure. Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy had three sacks while Carolina totaled six sacks against Chicago. The Bears won’t be picking high enough to land Texas A&M’s Luke Joeckel, so they will have to find a tackle on the second day of the draft if they can’t land an upgrade in free agency.

Aboushi is an underrated prospect who would be a nice addition for Chicago. He is very quick and athletic to take on speed-rushers. Aboushi has added strength and improved as a run-blocker this season. He could be a nice blind-side protector for Chicago and is a rare left tackle prospect who could be had on the second day of the draft.

St. Louis Rams: Keenan Allen, WR, California
The Rams fell way behind to the Patriots, and Sam Bradford didn’t have the receivers to let him attempt a comeback. Chris Givens (3-63) and Brian Quick (1-39) flashed, but they look more like complementary receivers rather than potential No. 1s. St. Louis needs to land a big receiver who can move the chains and create big plays for Bradford.

Allen has that ability even though his stats don’t illustrate it. Subpar quarterback play holds Allen back, but he has a serious combination size and speed. The wide out has 61 receptions for 737 yards and six touchdowns this season. He caught 98 passes for 1,343 yards and six scores last year. Allen (6-3, 210) could be taken with one of the Rams two first-rounders.

Tennessee Titans: Johnthan Banks, CB, Mississippi State
Tennessee allowed the Colts to gain 457 yards of offense in its overtime loss to Indianapolis. Andrew Luck distributed the ball well, and the Titans will need to upgrade their secondary to match up against Luck twice a season for many years to come.

Banks (6-2, 185) would be a good weapon to have against Luck. He has serious ball skills and is a physical defender. Banks has 37 tackles, four interceptions and five passes broken up this season. He has 16 career interceptions over four seasons and will enter the NFL with a lot of experience after playing four years in the SEC.

San Diego Chargers: Terrance Williams, WR, Baylor
The Chargers were embarrassed in a 7-6 loss to Cleveland, and they continue to miss wide receiver Vincent Jackson. San Diego was led in receiving by backup running back Ronnie Brown (7-85). Granted the weather was tough, but Philip Rivers had only 154 passing yards. The Chargers have to find him a true No. 1 receiver over the offseason.

Williams (6-2, 205) had been the most productive wide receiver in the nation. He has been a phenomenal play-maker for Baylor. Williams has hauled in 60 receptions for 1,203 yards and nine touchdowns in 2012. He had 59 catches for 957 yards and 11 scores last year as the secondary receiver for Robert Griffin III. Williams would be a nice upgrade for San Diego.

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 York Giants:
Obviously, a team doesn’t become the Super Bowl champion without great talent on its roster. The Giants have one of the best and deepest rosters in the NFL, so they should at least be a Super Bowl contender for many years to come, if not win another Lombardi with Eli Manning at quarterback.

Still, there are a few ares that New York could upgrade next offseason to make the most of its championship window with Manning. The first order of business should be to find some young talent for the offensive line. The team has a youngish left tackle in Will Beatty (27), but the rest of the line has a lot of age. Guard Kevin Boothe (29), center David Baas (31), guard Chris Snee (30), tackles David Diehl (32) and Sean Locklear (31) round out an aging group. The Giants would do well to draft a player like Alabama’s Chance Warmack in the first round next April. He would fit their system well.

New York could also use help at tight end. Martellus Bennett signed only a one-year contract, so the Giants should consider Notre Dame’s Tyler Eifert as a candidate for their first-round pick.

New York is stocked well defensively up front and on the back end. The team has talented youth along the defensive line and in their secondary. The one area that could use more talent is the linebacking corps. However, that isn’t as critical a need as the offensive line or tight end. The Giants could look at linebacker on the second day of the draft or in the mid-rounds. North Carolina’s Kevin Reddick would be an interesting addition in the third or fourth round.

Reloading the talent around Manning should be the top priority next April.

Washington Redskins:
The Redskins are an exciting young team thanks to rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III and running back Alfred Morris. Even though Washington has made some noise, the team has fallen to 3-5 on the season after losing to Pittsburgh. The Redskins clearly have some serious weaknesses that keep on costing them games.

The largest problem area for Washington is its secondary. The team’s safeties are abysmal and their cornerbacks are inconsistent. The Redskins have to make some moves in free agency and the 2013 NFL Draft to remodel their secondary.

This looks like a strong safety draft, and Washington could land a good one on the second day of the draft. The franchise would find nice fits from a number of players including Georgia’s Bacarri Rambo, Georgia’s Shawn Williams, Florida’s Matt Elam and USC’s T.J. McDonald.

The Redskins have some veteran cornerbacks, but DeAngelo Hall can be stud or a liability on any given week. Finding some young talent at corner is critical for Washington to match up with its division rivals. The other needs on defense could be some pass-rushing depth at outside linebacker and an understudy to inside linebacker London Fletcher.

The Redskins should continue to keep an eye out for receiver help offensively. They have a nice stable, but lack a true No. 1 wide out. The offensive line also could use more improvement.

Washington is headed in the right direction. The team just needs the benefits of a couple of solid offseasons with continuity for Griffin. The Redskins and the Giants could become the top battlers for the NFC East on an annual basis.

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