Monday Morning Draft is 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.
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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 16 action.
Kansas City Chiefs:
Kansas City continued its losing ways against Indianapolis. The Chiefs were shut out on the road the week before by Oakland. Kansas City is now 2-13 on the season. If the Chiefs lose next week, they will lock up the first pick in the 2013 NFL Draft.
A couple weeks ago, despite the Jovan Belcher tragedy that rocked the organization, the Chiefs overcame the adversity to get their second win of the season. Kansas City beat a weak Carolina squad, but that win was a tremendous accomplishment considering what the team was going through.
Quarterbacks Brady Quinn and Matt Cassel have been ineffective this year, and the Chiefs have to sell out for a franchise quarterback in the offseason.
Jacksonville played tough, but fell to the Patriots 23-16 on Sunday. The Jaguars are locked into the top of the 2013 NFL Draft and still could land the No. 1-overall pick if they lose and the Chiefs win next week.
Jacksonville won its second game of the year over the Titans. The Jaguars’ other win came when it stole a game from Indianapolis with a last-minute 80-yard touchdown pass from Gabbert to Cecil Shorts in busted coverage. Jacksonville is 2-13 on the season.
This team is locked into a top-five pick and has the least talented roster in the NFL.
Oakland fell to 4-11 after being dropped on the road at Carolina. A week ago, the Raiders beat the Chiefs without managing to find the end zone. Oakland shut out Kansas City – 15-0. Three of the Raiders’ wins have come against the Chiefs and Jaguars, so that is nothing to brag about. Oakland is short of the talent to compete on a weekly basis.
The previous regime traded for Carson Palmer and drafted Terrell 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.
The Lions continued their disappointing year by getting dropped by Atlanta on Saturday night. Detroit’s secondary had no answer for Matt Ryan and the Falcons’ receivers. Last week, the Lions lost by four touchdowns to a terrible Arizona team.
Detroit has fallen to 4-11 and continues to finish the season on a sour note. The Lions’ roster has a lot of holes in it, including a weak running game, a shaky offensive line and a terrible secondary. Detroit still has some great young talent, but the team needs to become more consistent and disciplined.
The good feelings from the Eagles’ comeback win over Tampa Bay were quickly erased by a 21-point loss to Cincinnati. Yesterday, the Eagles played the red-hot Redskins tough, but lost 27-20.
Philadelphia plays the Giants in the final week of the season. The Eagles look poised to finish 4-12.
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.
Detroit Lions: Logan Ryan, CB, Rutgers
The Lions’ secondary was torched again, this time by Atlanta signal caller Matt Ryan. Detroit has a lot to figure out with its secondary. First, the team has to decide if it is going to re-sign veteran cornerback Chris Houston and safety Louis Delmas. The Lions sound more likely to pick Delmas if they have to make a choice, but even if they re-sign Houston, they need to upgrade the talent of their corners.
Logan Ryan was one of the top cover corners in college football in 2012. He has good length, speed and size. Ryan is a physical corner who battles receivers and doesn’t hesitate to contribute in run defense. Those ball skills were on display with four interceptions and 14 passes broken up this season. Logan also contributed 87 tackles with five tackles for a loss. Detroit’s secondary would have a nice upgrade with Ryan as a cover corner.
New York Jets: Ryan Nassib, QB, Syracuse
If the Jets fire head coach Rex Ryan and general manager Mike Tannenbaum, it will be warranted because of their terrible management of the quarterback position. They gave the awful Mark Sanchez an unnecessary contract extension and never even gave Tim Tebow a chance after giving up a fourth-round pick for him. Tebow will be gone in the offseason with the Jets getting zero return on their investment. Plus, New York still has to find some competition for Sanchez.
If the team looks to the second day of the 2013 NFL Draft, Nassib would be a good choice. He is a gritty player who could handle the pressure of playing quarterback in New York. Nassib completed 63.2 percent of his passes for 3,619 yards with 24 touchdowns and nine interceptions this year. He played better than the numbers indicate as he had a weak supporting cast.
Nassib has good accuracy and decision-making, both traits that Sanchez struggles with. The Jets would improve their competition by taking Nassib with their second- or third-round pick.
Cleveland Browns: Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington
The Browns’ secondary was torched by Peyton Manning on Sunday a week after getting burned by rookie quarterback Kirk Cousins. Cleveland needs to find a cover corner to pair with Joe Haden.
Trufant had a strong senior season during which teams rarely threw the ball his direction. He had tight man coverage all year as Washington put him on an island. Trufant totaled 36 tackles, an interception and eight passes broken up. If the Browns had Trufant and Haden together, they could play a lot of man coverage. That would allow Cleveland to get creative with its blitz package and help out the pass rush on the other side from Jabaal Sheard.
New York Giants: Alec Ogletree, ILB, Georgia
The Giants’ run defense was destroyed by Baltimore on Sunday as Bernard Pierce and Ray Rice combined to total 230 yards rushing. New York has gotten away with less than stellar linebackers for a few years now, so the time may be right to invest a premium pick to improve the position.
Ogletree led Georgia with 98 regular-season tackles in 2012 despite missing the first four games of the year. He is extremely fast, has good size and is very physical. Ogletree has good instincts with the ability to make splash plays. In nine games in 2012, Ogletree also has 8.5 tackles for a loss, two sacks and an interception. He has a lot of upside and would be a quick upgrade for the Giants’ defense.
Buffalo Bills: Manti Te’o, ILB, Notre Dame
The Bills’ run defense was collectively run over by a trio of Dolphins. Reggie Bush (19-65), Lamar Miller (10-73) and Ryan Tannehill (6-44) did enough to lead Miami to a 24-10 win over Buffalo. Nick Barnett doesn’t give the Bills enough at middle linebacker, and the team could use a presence like Te’o.
Te’o has been one of the best players in college football in 2012. He totaled 103 tackles with seven interceptions and 1.5 sacks in the regular season to lead a stellar Notre Dame defense.
The Bills’ run defense and pass coverage would be significantly upgraded with Te’o. He is good at shutting down running backs and spying mobile quarterbacks. Plus, Te’o would help Buffalo in its ability to matchup against the Patriots tight ends. The Bills should think hard about taking Te’o with their first-round pick.
Dallas Cowboys: Tony Jefferson, S, Oklahoma
Drew Brees just torched the Cowboys secondary for 446 yards and three touchdowns. Dallas’ safety play was very weak against New Orleans and has been a weakness for the past couple of seasons. A rangy safety like Jefferson who can cover tight ends would be a nice addition for the Cowboys.
Jefferson leads Oklahoma in tackles in 2012 with 113. He also has 3.5 tackles for a loss, three passes broken up and two interceptions. That came after excellent seasons in 2010 and 2011. The speedy Jefferson covers a lot of ground in pass coverage while also making a ton of good tackles in run defense flying up to the line of scrimmage. Dallas would be fortunate to land Jefferson in the second round.
Arizona Cardinals: Tyler Bray, QB, Tennessee
The Cardinals stand no chance against the Bears’ quality defense because of the team’s horrible quarterbacks. Chicago cruised to an easy win in the desert. Obviously, Arizona will target a quarterback in the offseason, and Bray would be a nice option to consider in the second round of the 2013 NFL Draft.
The big-armed pocket passer has the ability to make all the throws necessary in the NFL. Bray would be a good signal caller to pair with Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd and Andre Roberts. Bray completed 59 percent of his passes this year for 3,612 yards with 34 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. He has a lot of ability with huge upside but needs more development at the NFL level.
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.
St. Louis Rams:
Thanks to the trade with the Washington Redskins, the Rams will be power players in the next two drafts as they currently have three picks in the first two rounds of the next two drafts. St. Louis has Washington’s next two first-round picks, so if the Rams make wise selections, the team should have a lot of high-grade talent in its starting 22.
St. Louis has some needs to address and plenty of ammo to get it done. The Rams have veterans Barry Richardson and Wayne Hunter at right tackle, so the team could use a long-term starter. If St. Louis can land a first-round left tackle, the squad could move Rodger Saffold to the right side. Michigan’s Taylor Lewan, Central Michigan’s Eric Fisher or Texas A&M’s Jake Matthews would all be nice fits for the Rams.
St. Louis has a promising young defense led by a very talented defensive line that should only get better. The Rams could use two defensive upgrades: outside linebacker and safety. BYU outside linebacker Kyle Van Noy would be dangerous addition to St. Louis’ pass rush and run defense. He could be targeted with a first or second-round pick.
At safety, the Rams’ defense would find a great fit with Florida’s Matt Elam. He could be an option in the first round and probably won’t get to their second-round pick. Elam is a hard hitter with ball skills, and he would provide better coverage in the deep part of the field for St. Louis.
The Rams should look to continue to improve the weapons for franchise quarterback Sam Bradford. Chris Givens has stepped up with a nice rookie season. Brandon Gibson and Danny Amendola are good contributors, too. Even though St. Louis has some talent, if the team has a shot at an elite receiver, it should take it as a dominant wide out would really help open up the Rams’ ground game as well as helping Bradford.
In the mid-rounds, St. Louis could consider another tight end to pair with Lance Kendricks. UCLA’s Joseph Fauria would be a nice fit. A guard upgrade would also be good for Bradford and the rushing attack.
The Rams are well coached by Jeff Fisher with a good front office led by Kevin Demoff and Les Snead. They’ve made big improvements in their first season together, and it wouldn’t be surprising if they get St. Louis back into the postseason in the near future.
San Diego Chargers:
In one week, San Diego is expected to fire general manager A.J. Smith and head coach Norv Turner. Whoever is running the new regime will have the tough task of rebuilding a roster that has a lot of holes in it and players that haven’t lived up to expectations.
The Chargers have major issues on both sides of the ball, plus need to find some fiery leaders to help change the culture in the locker room. San Diego has so many needs that the team should strongly pursue trading down to land more quality selections to improve the roster.
The first order of business is upgrading the offensive line. Philip Rivers has been hammered this season, and the shaky line has made the veteran look like he could be regressing. The Chargers would be very fortunate to land Texas A&M’s Luke Joeckel with their first-round pick. If San Diego can’t get Joeckel, the team could target Jake Matthews, Taylor Lewan or Eric Fisher. This should be the top priority.
Smith was a fool to let Vincent Jackson leave town, and as a result, the Chargers have lacked a true No. 1 receiver this year. San Diego should target Alabama’s Cobi Hamilton in the second round this April. He would be a good fit for Rivers in the role that Jackson thrived in.
Defensively, the Chargers are weak. Their secondary needs upgrades at cornerback especially. Quentin Jammer is old and Antoine Cason is approaching the end of his rookie contract. Washington’s Desmond Trufant or San Diego State’s Leon McFadden would be good fits who could be available on the second day of the 2013 NFL Draft.
Inside linebacker is another need for San Diego. Takeo Spikes is past his prime, and the Chargers have to find a play-maker to lead their stop unit. If he is the best player available, the Chargers will have to think of drafting Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o in the first round. He would give San Diego a defensive presence the team has lacked since Junior Seau left town. Te’o would be a nice plan B if there isn’t an offensive tackle worth the Chargers’ first-round pick.
San Diego is going to be a tough job for whomever takes them over, but at least the Chargers have a quarterback in Rivers the new management can try to build around.
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