Monday Morning Draft – Week 5

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 5 action.

Jacksonville Jaguars:
The Jaguars aren’t a competitive football team and have a real shot at going 0-16. This week, the Rams took care of Jacksonville 34-20. The question is if the new Jaguars regime will survive if the squad goes winless this season.

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 another quarterback option, and Jacksonville looks destined for a miserable season. The front office traded away Eugene Monroe and Luke Joeckel is out for the season.

The Jaguars have to move on from Gabbert and would definitely take Bridgewater if they land the first pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. However with Joeckel on the blind side, 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!

Tampa Bay Buccaneers:
The Bucs had a bye on Sunday. Tampa Bay lost 13-10 to the Cardinals last week in another ugly day of offensive football. The Buccaneers are 0-4 and I don’t think Mike Glennon will propel the team to a lot of wins this season. Tampa Bay looks poised to land a high pick in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft.

If Glennon doesn’t play well, the Buccaneers could draft a quarterback in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft. Tampa Bay could also have a new regime that doesn’t have any loyalty to Glennon. Head coach Greg Schiano is 1-9 in his last 10 games, while general manager Mark Dominik has a 24-44 record running the team.

The Bucs seem to be settled into a culture of losing as they are on track to finish in last place for the fourth time in the five years since firing Jon Gruden and Bruce Allen. If Tampa Bay ends up picking this high, a quarterback is the most likely target.

New York Giants:
The New York Giants were dropped to 0-5, and their terrible start to the season is no fluke. Philadelphia, even without Michael Vick for a half, beat New York by 15 as the Giants’ offensive woes continued.

Previously, Kansas City rolled the Giants and New York was absolutely destroyed by the Panthers on the road 38-0. The Giants field a weak offensive line and their defense isn’t as tenacious as it used to be.

If New York ends up with a pick at the top of the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft, the organization would go with Clowney or maybe an offensive tackle like Matthews.

Pittsburgh Steelers:
Pittsburgh had a bye on Sunday. Last week, the Steelers were dropped to 0-4 by the Vikings led by backup quarterback Matt Cassel. Pittsburgh’s defense was torched by Cassel and veteran Greg Jennings. What the Steelers have become has to be embarrassing for Mike Tomlin.

Previously, 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 probably go with Clowney over a quarterback. Pittsburgh could also consider Matthews instead of Clowney to try to finally fix the team’s hole at left tackle.

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.

Baltimore Ravens: Jordan Matthews, WR, Vanderbilt
The Ravens have been clearly missing Anquan Boldin this season. Torrey Smith has been excellent, but they badly need a complement on the other side. Tandon Doss should be the third receiver rather than a starter. Baltimore could use a physical wide out who works the short to intermediate part of the field like Boldin.

The 6-foot-3, 206-pound Matthews would fit as the possession receiver to move the chains. He looks like a typical, safe Ozzie Newsome-type pick. Matthews has 47 receptions for 709 yards with five touchdowns this season. He had 94 catches for 1,323 yards with eight touchdowns last year. The senior would be a good reliable receiver for Joe Flacco.

New Orleans Saints: James Hurst, OT, North Carolina
Lost in the Saints’ 5-0 start is that New Orleans has allowed quarterback Drew Brees to take way too many hits. Right tackle Zach Strief is weak in pass protection and guard Ben Grubbs has had some hiccups as well. Brees bails out his line by getting the ball out so quickly, but New Orleans clearly needs to do a better job of protecting its franchise quarterback.

The 6-foot-7, 310-pound Hurst isn’t the toughest blocker in the ground game. He won’t ride linemen around the field or blast open running holes, but he is a very reliable pass-protector. Hurst is good at negating speed rushes, and for the Saints’ offense, he is a great fit as a pass-protector for Brees. Drafting Hurst could give New Orleans two young bookend tackles for the future in Hurst and 2013 NFL Draft pick Terron Armstead. Hurst would make sense for the Saints as a late first-rounder.

New England Patriots: Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina
The Patriots’ front office and head coach Bill Belichick clearly mismanaged the composition of receiving weapons for Tom Brady this offseason. While the team will eventually get Rob Gronkowski back, the oft-injured tight end could be knocked out of the lineup again at any time. New England needs to find a replacement for Aaron Hernandez; the versatile Ebron would be a perfect fit.

Ebron has 23 receptions for 333 yards and two touchdowns so far this year. The 6-foot-4, 245-pounder is extremely athletic with serious speed to get open down the field. He makes acrobatic catches and can be lined up in a variety of spots. Last year, the Tar Heels even played him both ways as they used him some at defensive end. The versatile Ebron would be a perfect fit in the ‘Swiss army knife’ role that Hernandez played.

Green Bay Packers: Dion Bailey, S, USC
The Packers’ defense was able to step up and contain a Lions’ offense that wasn’t the same without superstar wide out Calvin Johnson. Despite not having to cover Johnson, Green Bay’s secondary was beaten by Detroit tight ends Brandon Pettigrew and Tony Scheffler for a combined eight receptions for 114 yards. The Packers could use some more competition at safety.

Bailey would be a nice weapon in Green Bay’s defense and fill the Charles Woodson role for Dom Capers. Bailey has 28 tackles with 2.5 tackles for a loss and two interceptions thus far in 2013. He is a fast and instinctive safety who would improve the Packers’ ability to defend tight ends.

Kansas City Chiefs: Marqise Lee, WR, USC
The 5-0 Chiefs have been carried by a superb defense and an offense that does a good job of taking care of the football. However, Kansas City has to be disappointed in the lack of production from Dwayne Bowe. Donnie Avery has played well, but the team could use more receiving weapons for Alex Smith.

With the mess that is going on at USC, Lee was having a down season and is currently sidelined with a knee injury. He has 30 receptions for 385 yards with a touchdown this year. Last season, Lee was a Heisman Trophy finalist as he caught 118 passes for 1,721 yards and 14 scores. Lee would be a good fit in Andy Reid’s offense filling the same role as DeSean Jackson or Jeremy Maclin did in Philadelphia.

St. Louis Rams: HaHa Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama
The Rams took care of business against Jacksonville, but St. Louis continued to show some weakness in the back end of its defense. Justin Blackmon (5-136) and Cecil Shorts (5-74) both scored touchdowns. The Rams could use a deep free safety who prevents long touchdown passes.

That happens to be the speciality of Clinton-Dix. He is superb as a deep safety to come over the top and defend against long touchdowns. Clinton-Dix has made a lot of tackles to prevent touchdowns or longer gains this season. He has 24 tackles and played well against Texas A&M, Virginia Tech and Ole Miss. However, the junior is suspended indefinitely after accepting a loan from an Alabama assistant.

The Rams are willing to work with players who have had off-the-field issues, having drafted Janoris Jenkins and Alec Ogletree in the past two years. Clinton-Dix would fit St. Louis’ defense well and be an upgrade at free safety.

Philadelphia Eagles: Loucheiz Purifoy, CB, Florida
The Eagles’ defense has featured a weak secondary in 2013, which the Giants’ wide receivers continued to prove that to Philadelphia general manager Howie Roseman. In a division with Tony Romo, Eli Manning and Robert Griffin III, Philadelphia needs difference-makers at cornerback. Chip Kelly also wants a defense that combines size and speed. Purifoy (6-1, 289) would fit that bill.

Against Arkansas, Purifoy gave evidence why he is in the running as one of the top draft-eligible cornerbacks in the nation. He had a strip-sack to set up Florida’s first points and followed that up with a 42-yard pick six to get the Gators the lead. The junior has had tight coverage all season, to the point that some thought he was having a quiet year. He also has been a demon on special teams during his collegiate career. Purifoy would make a lot of sense as the Eagles first-round pick.

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.

Chicago Bears:
The Bears are in an interesting position going forward, and general manager Phil Emery is going to have some tough decisions to make on the defensive side of the ball next offseason. For years, Chicago has had one of the most consistent defensive units in the NFL, but there are lot of veterans who Emery will have to decide whether to retain or move on from.

Cornerbacks Charles Tillman and Tim Jennings are free agents after the season. Both are aging, so it seems unlikely that both will come back. If the Bears re-sign one, probably Tillman, they could consider drafting a complementary corner with an early-round pick. Emery likes prospects who are rare athletes with size, so Florida’s Loucheiz Purifoy would make a lot of sense. Sources told last April that the Bears loved Desmond Trufant and almost drafted him in the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft. Purifoy’s cover skills would fit the model of Desmond Trufant.

On the defensive line, Chicago has injured defensive tackle Henry Melton hitting free agency. He was the Bears’ franchise player a year ago, and they are missing him since his ACL injury. The team should be able to sign Melton to a cheaper extension than originally thought before the injury. If Chicago loses Melton to another team, the Bears will have to think about drafting a tackle like Arizona State’s Will Sutton, LSU’s Anthony Johnson, Florida State’s Timmy Jernigan or Pittsburgh’s Aaron Donald. All would fit as a three-technique in Mel Tucker’s defense. All could be second-day targets for Chicago.

Defensive end is another need position. Julius Peppers is slowing down, and Shea McClellin has yet to break out as a difference-maker. If a good defensive end is available in the first round, that need will have to be a consideration for the Bears.

Obviously, Chicago is going to re-sign Jay Cutler. The organization really doesn’t have any other option because there won’t be a better veteran quarterback available and the team won’t be drafting high enough to land a replacement. Re-signing Cutler will basically keep the Bears’ improving offense intact, and I think they’ll be better in the second season of running Marc Trestman’s system.

Since taking over as general manager, Emery has done a nice job of building up the Chicago’s offense and now will need to start rebuilding the defensive side of the ball next offseason.

Miami Dolphins:
With the New England Patriots looking like they’re in decline, the Dolphins have a legitimate opening in the AFC East. Miami has a good young quarterback in Ryan Tannehill and a capable defense, but the Dolphins’ weak offensive line could be the Achilles Heel that keeps them out of the postseason this year.

Miami’s offensive line is dreadful, leading the NFL in sacks allowed. The Ravens dominated the Dolphins to the tune of six sacks on Sunday; Terrell Suggs recorded three. Jonathan Martin is not a capable left tackle to protect Miami’s franchise quarterback. Martin should be playing right tackle or guard. Right tackle Tyson Clabo is declining and could be upgraded. The same goes for guards Richie Incognito and John Jerry.

Perhaps rookie guard Dallas Thomas will fill one interior spot, but in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft, the Dolphins will have to consider a tackle like Alabama’s Cyrus Kouandjio, Tennessee’s Antonio Richardson or North Carolina’s James Hurst. Miami won’t be picking high enough to land Jake Matthews or Taylor Lewan, but getting one of those other tackles is critical. The organization should consider another tackle or guard if a good one is available on the second day of the draft.

Defensively, the Dolphins are pretty set, but they could use a true No. 1 cornerback. Ben Grimes only signed a 1-year prove-it deal, and at this point in his career, he is better as a No. 2 corner. If Miami doesn’t have a good offensive tackle option in the first round, the team could look to land a cornerback like Florida’s Loucheiz Purifoy or Marcus Robserson.

The Dolphins could have a big hole in the middle of their defensive line if Randy Starks and Paul Soliai leave in free agency. Miami should look to retain those veterans.

Another need to consider is a tight end to pair with Charles Clay. Dustin Keller was supposed to fill that void, but was lost for the year with a knee injury in the preseason. A tight end like Texas Tech’s Jace Amaro would be a good fit for the team on the second day.

If the Dolphins can fill their holes on offense, it wouldn’t be surprising if Miami becomes a serious postseason threat.

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