Monday Morning Draft – Week 3

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 3 action.

Jacksonville Jaguars:
The Jaguars aren’t a competitive football team and have a real shot at going 0-16. This week, Seattle blew Jacksonville out 45-17; the Jaguars were never competitive against the Seahawks.

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.

The Jaguars need 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 another Texas A&M right tackle with a top-two pick for the second straight year. Hello, Jake Matthews!

New York Giants:
The New York Giants dropped to 0-3 and this does not look like a fluke. They were absolutely destroyed by the Panthers on the road 38-0. New York’s offensive line was completely pathetic. It allowed seven sacks from five different Carolina defenders. Eli Manning is in a serious funk and his defense isn’t as tenacious as it used to be. The Giants are better than their record, but right now they’re winless and look headed for a rough season.

If the Giants end up with a pick at the top of the first round, they would go with Clowney or maybe an offensive tackle like Matthews.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers:
Tampa Bay was dropped by New England 23-3 with another ugly day of offensive football. With the Buccaneers at 0-3 and Josh Freeman struggling, they could make rookie Mike Glennon the starter after the bye week if Freeman doesn’t play well next Sunday against the Cardinals. 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 with Glennon as its starter.

After the season, Tampa Bay will probably be in the quarterback market because Freeman is slated to hit free agency and is unlikely to be re-signed. The Bucs could also have a new regime as head coach Greg Schiano is 1-8 in his last nine games and general manager Mark Dominik has a 24-43 record running the tean. The team seems to be settled in a culture of losing as it is on track to finish in last place for the fourth time in the five years since firing Jon Gruden. If the Bucs end up picking this high, a quarterback is the most likely target.

Minnesota Vikings:
The Vikings were dropped to 0-3 by the Browns at home. Let that sink in. The Minnesota team that went to the playoffs last year lost to Cleveland at home. In the first two weeks, the Vikings played tough before losing games late against the Lions and Bears. Cleveland lit up the Minnesota’s defense with a less than elite cast of play-makers.

If the Vikings finish with a top-five pick, they should move on from Christian Ponder. The third-year signal-caller isn’t consistent enough for a Minnesota offense that has lots of good throwing opportunities with defenses concerned about Adrian Peterson. Teddy Bridgewater, Tajh Boyd or Brett Hundley has to look really good to the Vikings.

Pittsburgh Steelers:
The Steelers were dropped to 0-3 by the Bears. Pittsburgh was down by 21 before an impressive comeback fizzled out. According to NFL history, the Steelers’ playoff hopes were finished when the Bears closed out the win. Pittsburgh has been beaten by good opponents, but the team clearly isn’t the caliber it has been in past seasons. The Steelers’ offensive line, rushing attack and defense have lost a lot of their effectiveness. While it will be painful for its fans to acknowledge, Pittsburgh is in rebuilding mode.

If the Steelers bottom out and land a high first-round pick, they would definitely go with Clowney over a quarterback, but I don’t think Pittsburgh will be bad enough to have a shot at Clowney.

Washington Redskins:
The Redskins lost a close game at home to the Detroit Lions. While Washington has struggled in the early going this season, I think the team could thrive in the second half of the season. Griffin will improve as he gets healthier, and the Redskins have a lot of young players who should be better late in the season. Unfortunately for Washington, the Rams have their 2014 first-round pick, so Washington won’t have that resource at its disposal to rebuild for next 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.

Kansas City Chiefs: Christian Jones, ILB, Florida State
Even though the Chiefs handled the Eagles on Thursday night, it showed that Kansas City could use another inside linebacker to pair with Derrick Johnson. The Jovan Belcher tragedy left a hole in the middle of the Chiefs’ defense, and they could use another linebacker to defend the middle when teams account for Johnson. A linebacker with size and speed like Jones would be a great fit to clean up the disruption caused by outside linebackers Justin Houston and Tamba Hali.

The fast and physical Jones had an impressive junior season and could have been a second-round pick if he had entered the 2013 NFL Draft. In two games this season, Jones has 13 tackles as Florida State has blown out three pathetic opponents. He would make a nice second-round pick for the Chiefs.

New England Patriots: Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina
New England’s young receivers played better against Tampa Bay, and they should continue to improve as the season progresses. However, the Patriots’ offense is still missing the tight end mismatches that Tom Brady is so adept at exploiting. Rob Gronkowski is coming back, but his durability issues make him less than reliable. Aaron Hernandez’s role is vacant and Ebron would be a perfect fit to replace him as the “swiss army knife” in New England’s offense.

Ebron has 13 receptions for 200 yards (15.4 average) and one touchdown so far this year. He has improved his blocking ability as well. The 6-foot-4, 245-pounder is extremely versatile with the ability to line up in a variety of spots. Ebron is fast, athletic and can make difficult acrobatic catches. He caught six passes for 108 yards with a one-handed touchdown reception last Saturday against Georgia Tech. Ebron is a real receiving threat who will produce mismatches in the NFL.

New York Giants: David Yankey, G, Stanford
The Giants’ offensive line was dominated by the Panthers to the tune of seven sacks. Greg Hardy, Charles Johnson, Star Lotulelei and Kawann Short all got to Eli Manning for sacks. New York drafted Justin Pugh in the first round last year, but the team, clearly, needs more help on the offensive line. If the Giants could land Yankey on the second day of the 2014 NFL Draft, he would be a nice value pick.

On Saturday night, Yankey had a strong performance against Arizona State and did well in his plays against Sun Devils pass-rusher Will Sutton. Yankey was rock solid in pass protection and opened up running lanes. The Giants certainly could have used that out of their guards against the Panthers.

Yankey has the experience of playing left tackle and could chip in at right tackle in the NFL, although guard is his best fit. In the run game, Yankey is a powerful blocker so he would improve the Giants’ ability to run the ball between the tackles. Landing Yankey in the second round of the 2014 NFL Draft could be a good fit for New York.

Indianapolis Colts: Cyril Richardson, G, Baylor
The Colts were able to wear down the 49ers’ tough defense, but Indianapolis could still use a road-grader in its line with better interior protection for Andrew Luck. The massive Richardson is an excellent blocker for running back Lache Seastrunk and served as Robert Griffin III’s left tackle during Griffin’s final season in Waco.

With Trent Richardson the future of the Colts’ power running game, a blocker like Cyril Richardson would be ideal to pave the way. The 6-foot-5, 340-pound Richardson would be a nice second-round pick for Indianapolis.

New York Jets: Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Washington
New York and rookie quarterback Geno Smith deserve respect for how they’ve played in the early going. The Jets are better than many people thought and the team has a loaded defense that could only get better with its defensive linemen all entering their prime years. Going forward New York needs to surround Smith with a stable of weapons including a running back, a wide receiver and a tight end. Kellen Winslow was a good signing, but he is a situational player at this point of his career. The organization could use a true three-down tight end.

Using a first-round pick on Seferian-Jenkins might seem a little rich for New York, but a player like him could really help the development of Smith by providing him with a safety value. Seferian-Jenkins is big enough to be able to make catches even when he’s covered. The 6-foot-6, 276-pounder has excellent speed for his size and is a serious mismatch problem. He has eight receptions for 70 yards and a touchdown in two games this year. Seferian-Jenkins caught 69 passes for 852 yards and seven scores in 2012. As a freshman, he had 41 catches for 538 yards and six scores. Seferian-Jenkins would be an asset for Smith.

New Orleans Saints: Vic Beasley, OLB, Clemson
Rob Ryan was a tremendous hire by Sean Payton and the Saints as their stop unit has played well in three straight games. They held the Cardinals to seven points on Sunday while producing four sacks, two interceptions and a forced fumble. Cam Jordan has turned into a stud for New Orleans, but the team could use a pass-rusher on the other side from him. A speed-rusher like Beasley could be deadly.

In 2013, Beasley has five sacks with seven tackles. He had eight sacks as a sophomore in 2012. The 6-foot-2 Beasley weighs in the 230s. He’s strong for his weight, but is still very undersized for the NFL. Ryan could cause a lot of confusion with a weapon like Beasley on the Saints.

San Diego Chargers: Marqise Lee, WR, USC
The Chargers lost at the end of the fourth quarter as San Diego played another close game. One issue that is clearly holding the Chargers back is the lack of a No. 1 receiver. Former general manager A.J. Smith was extremely foolish to let Vincent Jackson leave town, and the franchise hasn’t found a true replacement. Against the Titans, no receiver caught more than two passes.

San Diego has 2013 third-round pick Keenan Allen and veteran slot receiver Eddie Royal to work with tight end Antonio Gates, but the Chargers need that play-maker to be a commanding weapon on the outside. Getting Lee in the first round could fix the problem for Philip Rivers. Without good quarterback play this year, Lee has 23 receptions for 293 yards and one touchdown. In 2012 with a good college quarterback, Lee had 118 receptions for 1,721 yards with 14 touchdowns. He could be a game-changer for the Chargers.

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.

Philadelphia Eagles:
On Thursday night football, the Eagles lost their second straight home game, which illustrated that they are still a work in progress from the team that went 4-12 last year. While new coach Chip Kelly has generated a lot of excitement, Philadelphia has a lot of question marks going forward as the Eagles have a number of needs on both sides of the ball.

First and foremost, Kelly will need a long-term starter for his offense. Michael Vick is aging, declining and isn’t a winner in the NFL. He isn’t consistent enough for Philadelphia to return to heavyweight status in the NFC East. Vick could be injured at any time, but that could work in the Eagles favor in the long run. Assuming they get virtually eliminated from the playoff race around mid-season, they shouldn’t wait to pull Vick for Nick Foles or even Matt Barkley. Philadelphia needs to know what it has in these young quarterbacks. That is a huge question to determine how the Eagles should use their early-round draft picks.

If Philadelphia is in the market for a quarterback, Clemson’s Tajh Boyd could be a fit for the team. Of coursem Oregon’s Marcus Mariota would also be good fit for his former head coach.

Elsewhere on the offense, injured wide receiver Jeremy Maclin is entering free agency. The Eagles could consider drafting a replacement if they don’t bring back Maclin. Philadelphia also could consider adding more talent to the offensive line. As a first-round pick, USC wide receiver Marqise Lee could be a good fit in the offense. On the second day, Oregon wideout Josh Huff and LSU wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. would also be speed options for Kelly.

Defensively, the Eagles still need to improve their secondary despite signing a pack of veterans. An elite cornerback like Ohio State’s Bradley Roby, Florida’s Loucheiz Purifoy or Marcus Roberson would have to be strongly considered in the first round.

Philadelphia has to upgrade its safeties; Patrick Chung needs to be replaced. The team is weak in the deep middle. Alabama’s HaHa Clinton-Dix could make sense in the first round depending on high he grades out and where the Eagles are drafting. On the second day, Stanford’s Ed Reynolds would make a lot of sense as a second-round pick.

The Ealges signed nose tackle Isaac Sopoaga over the summer, but if an elite nose tackle is available, they will have to give strong consideration to that position.

Philadelphia has some talent on its roster. The organization needs to stay patient and develop some continuity in its offensive system. Figuring out the quarterback position is step one.

San Francisco 49ers:
While the 49ers are disappointed in their 1-2 start, they clearly have the ability to circle the wagons and get back into the postseason for the third straight year. The long-term future is still bright as San Francisco has a good base of young talent with a lot of draft-pick resources to continue the building of the roster. The 49ers have three third-round picks next May, so the organization has the ability to move up high in the first round if there is a special play-maker available.

At the top of the 2014 NFL Draft, San Francisco has a few routes to go. One position to consider would be wide receiver given the age of Anquan Boldin, but perhaps Michael Crabtree will come back later this season and put that need to rest. The position must be monitored though because the receivers did not play well in Weeks 2 and 3 this season. To land a receiver like Clemson’s Sammy Watkins or USC’s Marqise Lee, the 49ers might have to trade away some of those second-day picks.

Defensively, San Francisco could consider more competition in its pursuit to find a long-term replacement for Justin Smith. The All-Pro defensive end is a huge presence in the 49ers’ defense and can’t be replaced with just anybody. The team selected Tank Carradine to develop as a five-technique, but it wouldn’t hurt to have another option in case Carradine doesn’t pan out or is just a solid player. In the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft, a great fit for that role would be Florida’s Dominique Easley. He is lightning off the snap with strength and a relentless motor.

Another position for the 49ers to consider in the first round is cornerback. Carlos Rogers has been very reliable for San Francisco, but it wouldn’t hurt the organization to land his understudy before he’s done. The 49ers could target one of Florida’s duo of Marcus Roberson or Loucheiz Purifoy. Either would fit San Francisco’s physical mentality on the defensive side of the ball.

The 49ers have used multiple picks over the past few drafts to address positions, so it wouldn’t be surprising if the team drafts a few corners, defensive linemen or wide receivers. San Francisco has plenty of reasons to remain optimistic for the future, and the 2014 NFL Draft is one of them.

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