Monday Morning Draft – Week 1

Monday Morning Draft is back! This is a column that delves into the past weekend’s action from an 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 Bridgewater/Lay Down for the Clown:

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 Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater or South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney. Here are the top contenders following the Week 1 action.

Jacksonville Jaguars:
Jacksonville general manager David Caldwell gave the Jaguars’ fan base reason to doubt him when he stuck with Blaine Gabbert as his quarterback saying he needed better coaching and always thought he was a 3-year developmental project. Nobody else is shocked that Gabbert still sucks. Apparently the analytics from Shad Khan’s son were crap. Caldwell didn’t bring in a suitable replacement and Jacksonville looks destined for a miserable season. Kansas City embarrassed the Jaguars at home 28-2.

Jacksonville needs an elite edge-rusher and a franchise quarterback, so the club could go for Clowney or Bridgewater. However, left tackle Eugene Monroe could leave in free agency. That would cause Luke Joeckel moving to the blind side and general manager David Caldwell might draft a right tackle with a top-two pick for the second straight year. Hello, Jake Matthews!

Oakland Raiders:
Oakland played the Colts tough on the road and only lost by four points. Terrelle Pryor flashed some play-making ability in his first NFL start against a team that made the playoffs last year. Pryor threw for 217 and ran for another 112. While the Raiders don’t figure to be anything close to contenders, perhaps they will be competitive and give their fans a season worth watching with some hope for the future.

Oakland is an interesting team to keep an eye on for the top of the 2014 NFL Draft. If Pryor continues to develop and play well, the Raiders could go with Clowney to give their defense a building block. The question is if they have the right coaching staff to get Clowney to maximize his skill set.

Cleveland Browns:
The Browns looked improved in the preseason, but their inability to field a functional passing offense looks like the big hurdle to become a playoff contender. Brandon Weeden threw three interceptions, and while they weren’t all his fault, he isn’t good enough for Cleveland to pass on Bridgewater if he’s available. The Dolphins were stacking the box with eight- and nine-man fronts to take away Trent Richardson, and that type of defense is going to work against Browns until they make some plays through the air.

In the passing-driven NFL, not having a decent aerial attack is a prescription for losing. Making matters worse, Cleveland plays in a tough division. The Browns also have to take on the competitive NFC North. They could be poised for another four- or five-win season.

Philadelphia Eagles:
The Eagles will see a nice test tonight against the Redskins, but Philadelphia is a team in transition. Michael Vick is the worst starting quarterback in the NFC East and the Eagles could easily have the worst defense. They don’t have an easy schedule either. Perhaps Chip Kelly can take the NFL by storm, but it wouldn’t be surprising if Philadelphia needs more rebuilding before it’s ready to compete.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers:
I don’t think the Bucs will end up picking in the top five of the 2014 NFL Draft, but right now they played more inept football than other losers in Week 1 like the Bills, Cardinals, Steelers and Panthers. Thus, Tampa Bay gets the final spot for now. If the Bucs have a big collapse, they probably would be in the quarterback market because Josh Freeman is slated to hit free agency. If the team’s high-priced offensive line doesn’t rebound, it could be a long season for Tampa Bay.

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: Jordan Matthews, WR, Vanderbilt
The Lions got a tremendous debut out of Reggie Bush. He ripped off roughly 200 combined yards as perfect fit in Detroit’s offense. Still, the Vikings had success covering Detroit’s receivers with extra attention being paid to Calvin Johnson. The Lions could use another receiver to pair with Johnson and Bush.

Matthews isn’t a burner receiver who will stretch a defense, but he is a good possession receiver to move the chains. He is very good at exploiting soft coverage in the short and intermediate part of the field. With defenses focusing on Johnson and Bush, Matthews could be a good weapon. The senior has 16 receptions for 289 yards and two touchdowns through two weeks of play this season. Detroit could target him on the second day of the 2014 NFL Draft.

Carolina Panthers: Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
The Panthers receivers really struggled for Cam Newton on Sunday. Brandon LaFell didn’t even record a catch. For too long, the Panthers have lacked a complement to Steve Smith. and with Smith aging, they have to think of getting Newton a long-term No. 1 receiver. Watkins would be a great fit for Carolina. The big-play threat has nine receptions for 146 yards and a touchdown thus far as a junior. Watkins; deep speed could let him take advantage of Newton’s big arm and stretch the defense vertically. That would help open up the running game as well. Carolina should make landing Watkins a priority next May.

New York Jets: De’Anthony Thomas, RB/WR, Oregon
The Jets’ offense was fortunate to get a lot of penalty yards and first downs from the Bucs because without it New York would have lost to Tampa Bay. The Jets’ offense lacked any big-play potential. New York had no speed to stretch the field or rip off yards in chunks. The team needs to stockpile some weapons for Geno Smith to work with.

Thomas is the fastest draft-eligible play-maker in college football and could be this year’s Tavon Austin. Thomas has 29 carries for 252 yards and five touchdowns thus far in 2013. He could serve as a running back and slot receiver as a pro. The Jets badly need some play-makers like Thomas.

St. Louis Rams: Lache Seastrunk, RB, Baylor
The Rams need a difference-maker at running back and Seastrunk could be a great addition to their offense. Thus far in 2013, Seastrunk has 262 yards on 28 carries (9.4 average) with five touchdowns. He has the speed to break off long touchdown runs and the power to break tackles to get yards after contact. Giving Sam Bradford a good running game could be deadly with Tavon Austin being able to take advantage of defenses over the top. Seastrunk could complete the offense for St. Louis.

Miami Dolphins: James Hurst, OT, North Carolina
The Dolphins’ much-maligned offense line was good enough to win at Cleveland, but the line wasn’t all that impressive against the Browns. Miami had only seven yards rushing in the first half and finished the game with 20 yards on the ground. Plus, Ryan Tannehill took too many hits from Cleveland’s defensive line.

Miami’s offensive line could use better talent at offensive tackle. The athletic Hurst would be a perfect fit at left tackle in the Dolphins’ zone-blocking scheme. He has been a good blind-side protector in college and could be a nice first-round pick for Miami. With Hurst at left tackle, Jonathan Martin could compete with Tyson Clabo at right tackle. which would could leave the Dolphins having better protection for Tannehill.

New England Patriots: Brandon Coleman, WR, Rutgers
The Patriots love Rutgers products and could go back there to get some help for their receiving corps. Danny Amendola and Julian Edelman are serviceable, but New England could really use a play-maker unless Josh Boyce, Kenbrell Thompkins or Aaron Dobson breaks out during the season. A big receiver to make plays on the outside would be a nice addition for the New England offense.

The 6-foot-6 Coleman has 11 receptions for 124 yards with two touchdown receptions at this point in 2013. His size leaves him towering over defensive backs, so he is a great red-zone weapon. Colemna could be another dangerous target for Brady.

Indianapolis Colts: David Yankey, G/T, Stanford
The Colts gave up four sacks to the Oakland Raiders, so Indianapolis has got to do a better job of protecting Andrew Luck. The team’s blocking was a weakness last year as well and led to Luck taking way too many hits. It has to be worrisome for the Colts that the trend has continued considering they used draft picks and free agency dollars in an attempt to upgrade the line this past offseason.

Offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton coached Yankey at Stanford, so he obviously has a good starting point on the Colts’ playbook. The versatile blocker is a good run-blocker and reliable pass-protector as Luck can recall from their time together. Yankey could play right tackle or guard in the NFL. With Yankey’s versatility, Indianapolis could upgrade at least one position on its line and maybe more by reshuffling the blockers. Yankey makes a lot of sense for the Colts.

Team Draft Report:

In this section, we take a deeper look at specific teams and where they stand in regards to the 2014 NFL Draft.

Baltimore Ravens:
The Ravens won the Super Bowl at the right time. Their window was closing last year, and they would have had to start a rebuilding process no matter what happened. Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Anquan Boldin, Matt Birk, Cary Williams and Dannel Ellerbe were all going to be moving on regardless of what happened against San Francisco. By winning a championship at the perfect time, the front office and coaching staff bought themselves time for the rebuilding.

Baltimore has a few priorities for the rebuilding for its football team. The top priorities have to be the secondary and the wide receiving corps. Against the Broncos, the Ravens’ defensive backs looked terrible. Cornerback Lardarius Webb and safety Matt Elam are long-term starters, but they need a couple of corners and another safety. Michael Huff didn’t look like anything more than a stopgap in his Ravens debut, while cornerback Jimmy Smith looks like a bust. Baltimore has to consider Oklahoma’s Aaron Colvin, TCU’s Jason Verrett, Florida’s Loucheiz Purifoy or Marcus Roberson.

If the Ravens want to get their money’s worth out of the massive Joe Flacco contract, they need to get him more weapons. Torrey Smith is a good receiver, but Baltimore sorely missed Anquan Boldin against Denver. Baltimore could look to land a physical possession receiver on the second day of the 2014 NFL Draft next May. Good targets could be Rutgers’ Brandon Coleman, Vanderbilt’s Jordan Mathews, BYU’s Cody Hoffman or Ole Miss’ Donte Moncrief.

Another big priority is landing a long-term left tackle. The Ravens using their first-round pick on Tennessee’s Antonio Richardson or North Carolina’s James Hurst has to be a serious consideration. In the late rounds, Baltimore should also look to build up its depth on the line.

The Ravens have talent on their roster, so fixing a few positions could have the franchise back in championship form before long.

Cleveland Browns:
The Browns may have lost their ninth-straight opener, but I don’t think they’re that far away from being a legitimate playoff contender. Mike Lombardi has a few areas to fix, but Cleveland has some talent to work with.

The biggest issue on the Browns is the lack of a passing attack. Brandon Weeden looks more like a backup quality quarterback in the NFL. He just isn’t a play-maker and would need a tremendous set of play-makers in order to be a winner. I don’t think Cleveland will be bad enough to have a shot at Teddy Bridgewater, but if the franchise is in position to land Tajh Boyd or Brett Hundley, the front office should jump at the opportunity to land a franchise quarterback.

The Browns wide receivers need help, too. The team really missed Josh Gordon in the first game, but Cleveland has to build up some weapons to make plays through the air. Defenses are loading the box to negate Trent Richardson, and the Browns don’t have enough play-makers to stretch the defense. Cleveland should consider Oregon’s De’Anthony Thomas, Baylor’s Tevin Reese or another burner wide out who breaks out this season.

Up front, Cleveland could use a road-grading guard and a right tackle if Mitchell Schwartz ends up going bust. However these positions can be addressed on the second day of the 2014 NFL Draft or in free agency.

Defensively, the Browns have a nice front seven. They could use another corner to pair with Joe Haden and an improved nickel unless Leon McFadden is able to fill one of those roles; Buster Skrine should be a backup only. I think Cleveland’s defense is going to get better as the season progresses and the tean gets more familiar with running Ray Horton’s system.

I think the Browns are a year or two away with some good drafts before making a jump in the AFC North.

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