Monday Morning Draft – Week 2

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 2 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 Gabbert 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 in Week 1, and they lost 19-9 at Oakland in Week 2. That is some amazingly futile offensive football.

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!

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. For the second straight week, an anemic offense led to a loss for Cleveland and, once again, wasted a great effort by the team’s defense. The Ravens topped Cleveland 14-6 as the Browns’ offense looked even more inept than it did in Week 1.

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, or maybe worse.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers:
Tampa Bay found a way to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory for the second straight week. With the Buccaneers at 0-2 and Josh Freeman struggling, they could make rookie Mike Glennon the starter before long. However, I don’t think Glennon would propel the team to a lot of wins and the organization would end up landing a high pick in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft.

If the Bucs have a big collapse, they probably would be in the quarterback market because Freeman is slated to hit free agency and it seems unlikely, at the moment, that the marriage will continue. Tampa Bay is on the edge of another tough season.

Carolina Panthers:
The Panthers are 0-2, but they’ve played better than that. They easily could be 2-0 as they lost two close games at the end of the fourth quarter. Carolina has a lot of young players and could be a tough team in the second half of the season. That’s how the past two years under Ron Rivera have been, so I don’t believe the Panthers end up picking near the top of the 2014 NFL Draft.

Oakland Raiders:
The Raiders took care of business against the Jaguars in Oakland, but beating Jacksonville is nothing to brag about. Terrelle Pryor has flashed some play-making ability in his first two NFL starts and is worth playing this season to see if he can develop into a legitimate starter. 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. They also could sign Josh Freeman as competition. The question is if Oakland could get Clowney to maximize his skill set.

New York Jets:
The Jets are 1-1, but were lucky to beat Tampa Bay in Week 1. If Lavonte David didn’t commit that late hit, New York is probably 0-2 right now. The Jest have a pitiful offense without play-makers for rookie quarterback Geno Smith. New York is going to struggle to score points and puts too much pressure on its quality defense. The Jets look likely to have a low win total this 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.

Houston Texans: A.J. Johnson, ILB, Tennessee
The Texans’ defense was carried by Brian Cushing and J.J. Watt on Sunday. If Cushing or a defensive lineman didn’t get Chris Johnson, no other linebacker was stopping Johnson before the defensive backs. Houston’s defense is a tough unit, but it seems to depend on Cushing and Watt in the front seven. Perhaps Whitney Mercilus will break out down the stretch.

Through two games this season, Johnson has 17 tackles with a tackle for a loss. The physical and athletic junior has real potential in pass coverage. He is a fast linebacker who also has some strength and physicality. Johnson would be a perfect fit next to Cushing as the Texans’ Mo linebacker, which is basically a run-and-chase linebacker in their scheme. Cushing and Johnson also could switch roles with Johnson playing the physical in-the-box role. Having that flexibility would make things tough on quarterbacks to set blocking schemes and understand coverage.

Indianapolis Colts: Marcus Roberson, WR, Florida
The Colts need another cornerback to pair with Vontae Davis. In the first two games of the 2013 season, Indianapolis’ defense has looked very flawed. Miami’s Mike Wallace burned the Colts’ secondary and helped opened things up for Charles Clay to have a big game. Indianapolis could use another lock-down corner to shore up a weak secondary.

Roberson has had a strong start to his junior season but that shouldn’t surprise anyone who has watched the Gators closely since 2011. This is the third season that Roberson has proven to have good cover skills. The 6-foot, 180-pounder has good height, length, quickness and agility. Roberson could be a nice first-round value for the Colts.

Arizona Cardinals: Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA
The Cardinals had one sack of Matthew Stafford on Sunday and that came from Calais Campbell. Arizona could use an edge-rusher on the other side from him. Another pass-rusher, to go with Daryl Washington, could help produce consistent heat on the quarterback and some errant throws for Tyrann Mathieu and Patrick Peterson to pick off.

Barr would be a great scheme fit in Arizona. His blinding edge rush would make it tough for offenses to get double-teams on either Washington, Campbell or himself. This season in two games, Barr has totaled 16 tackles with 3.5 tackles for a loss and three forced fumbles. All three forced fumbles came in UCLA’s comeback win over Nebraska. If Barr is available, he would make a great pick for the Cardinals.

Kansas City Chiefs: Tevin Reese, WR, Baylor
The 2-0 Kansas City Chiefs have a talented roster with some play-makers on both sides of the ball. One thing the Chiefs could use is a complementary receiver to Dwayne Bowe. A.J. Jenkins can’t be relied on, and Kansas City could use a receiver to stretch the field. The lightning fast Reese could fill the role in Andy Reid’s offense that DeSean Jackson occupied in Philadelphia.

Reese is a vertical threat who can burn defenses for touchdowns on any reception. Thus far in 2013, he has nine receptions for 227 yards (25.2 average) with two touchdowns. Reese averaged 18 yards per catch in 2012 and 17 yards per catch in 2011. He had 957 yards and 877 yards receiving, respectively, despite never being the No. 1 receiver for Baylor. That was because of Terrance Williams and Kendell Wright being on the roster. Reese could be a second-day pick who provides a big impact.

New England Patriots: Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M
Perhaps it will be a weekly matchmaker to give the Patriots a wide receiver. So far, the talent at wide receiver for Tom Brady to work with this year has been dreadful. Given New England’s history of drafting and developing receivers for Brady, nobody should be holding their breath that Aaron Dobson, Kenbrell Thompkins or Josh Boyce become difference-makers. The star quarterback is getting older and the Patriots’ championship window won’t stay open forever. New England has to get Brady some more receiving talent this offseason.

Evans dominated Alabama last Saturday. He made tons of big plays downfield for Johnny Manziel as he made contested catches over defensive backs and was able to get enough separation for long completions. One of them was a 95-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter. Evans caught seven passes for 279 yards and the score against Alabama. He would instantly upgrade Brady’s weapons.

Chicago Bears: Bishop Sankey, RB, Washington
The Bears could use a secondary back to work with Matt Forte. Plus, Forte has dealt with his share of injuries during his career. Meanwhile, it looks like the new coaching staff isn’t all that inclined to using Michael Bush. A back with some receiving ability like Sankey would be a nice fit in Marc Trestman’s offense as a shifty runner and receiver.

In only two games thus far this year, Sankey has run for 369 yards on 60 carries for an average of 6.2 yards per carry. The junior also has four receptions for 75 yards. On the road in Soldier Field against Illinois, Sankey exploded for 208 yards with one touchdown on 35 carries. He also caught three passes for 63 yards with a touchdown. The 5-foot-10, 203-pound Sankey isn’t the biggest back, but he makes up for his lack of size with speed and elusive running. Sankey would be a nice pick for Chicago after the first round.

Green Bay Packers: Kyle Van Noy, OLB, BYU
Even though the Packers cruised over the Redskins, Green Bay only got one sack of Robert Griffin III despite him making 40 pass attempts. The Packers could use more pass-rushers to go with Clay Matthews, especially if Nick Perry doesn’t start producing.

Van Noy could be a wild card in the front seven for Dom Capers with his ability to rush the passer from different spots. Van Noy has 12 tackles with 3.5 tackles for a loss, one sack and a lot of hits on the quarterback after two games this season. In 2012, Van Noy had 22 tackles for a loss, 13 sacks, six forced fumbles and two interceptions. The fast and instinctive senior is dangerous in pass coverage as well as rushing the tackler. Van Noy would be a great fit in a 3-4 defense in the NFL as he could play inside and outside linebacker. Green Bay could be a dream landing spot for him.

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.

Tennessee Titans:
The Titans came close to a very impressive start to the 2013 season. After winning on the road at Pittsburgh, Tennessee came close to winning at Houston for a 2-0 start. The veteran Texans got enough plays to make the Titans 1-1, but Tennessee played its division rivals tough. Titans general manager Ruston Webster has built a nice roster and the team could get better as the season progresses if quarterback Jake Locker can make progress.

Tennessee doesn’t need a whole lot of work on its roster. The biggest decision that has to be made is regarding Locker. If he doesn’t play well this season, the Titans will have to consider taking a quarterback in the 2014 NFL Draft. Offensively, the organization could lose left tackle Michael Roos and right tackle David Stewart to expiring contracts. In the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft it would makes sense for the Tennessee to go back to Alabama for left tackle Cyrus Kouandjio. He was excellent next to Chance Warmack in college, and they could form a special left side of the line in the NFL.

The Titans could use a receiving tight end to pair with Delanie Walker. North Carolina’s Eric Ebron would be a nice fit in their offense. Tennessee also could use another receiver to pair with Kendall Wright and Justin Hunter. Kenny Britt looks checked out and isn’t a difference-maker for Locker.

Defensively, the Titans could consider a cornerback as Alterraun Verner is entering free agency and they could find an upgrade if they use a first-round pick on the position. Florida cornerbacks Loucheiz Purifoy and Marcus Roberson would be worth considering. Another position that could be worth addressing is a pass-rusher if an elite player is available.

Tennessee could turn into a serious playoff contender very quickly, but a lot is going to depend on the development of Locker.

New York Jets:
The Jets have a simple game plan for the 2014 NFL Draft and the next offseason. The offense has to be addressed with play-makers who can give New York an ability to produce some points. New York has to make the job easier for young quarterback Geno Smith. The organization needs to give him an arsenal of weapons at his disposal.

First of all, Smith is going to need a true No. 1 receiver. Santonio Holmes has a large salary and could be a cap casualty after the season. New York needs a receiver with the speed to stretch the defense and help open up the ground game. The Jets have to consider Clemson’s Sammy Watkins or USC’s Marqise Lee in the first round. Getting Smith a No. 1 receiver is paramount for New York. Stephen Hill could be a solid starter, but the Jets should also look for a speedy slot receiver and talented depth.

The team could use a long-term starter at tight end, too. Kellen Winslow was a nice signing, but he shouldn’t be an every-down tight end for New York. Guard Willie Colon isn’t a long-term player and that position could use a starter if Brian Winters doesn’t earn the spot. The Jets also should look for a sleeper running back who could produce if Chris Ivory continues to struggle with injuries. Oregon running back/wide receiver De’Anthony Thomas would be a scoring weapon as a runner and receiver like Smith had in college with Tavon Austin.

Defensively, New York have some needs it could address. The biggest weakness on the stop unit could be the safeties. The team could use a difference-maker on the back end, as well. The Jets also could potentially use an edge-rusher on the other side from Quinton Coples. However, those needs aren’t as glaring as New York’s problems on the offensive side of the ball.

New York is in both a good position and a bad position regarding the 2014 NFL Draft. With all the needs, the organization can go with the best player available and find some offensive starters, but the Jets also have a lot of needs because other moves haven’t worked out. At least with a good defense, New York could potentially return to playoff competition in the AFC East if the team get some game-changers on offense.

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