Monday Morning Draft – Week 6



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 6 action.

Jacksonville Jaguars:
The Jaguars finally played a somewhat competitive game, but the Broncos appeared like they were looking past Jacksonville and still won comfortably. The Jaguars have a real shot at going 0-16. The question is if the new Jacksonville regime will survive if the squad goes winless this season.

Jaguars general manager David Caldwell gave the team’s 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 useless. 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!

New York Giants:
The New York Giants were dropped to 0-6, and their terrible start to the season is no fluke. Chicago kept the nightmare season going with a 27-21 win on Thursday night football.

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. New York has additional issues in the back seven and a surprising lack of pass rush.

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. It would be a tough decision for general manager Jerry Reese.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers:
Tampa Bay lost 31-20 to the Eagles. The Buccaneers are 0-5 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 1-10 in his last 11 games and is 7-14 overall. General manager Mark Dominik has an ugly 24-45 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.

Pittsburgh Steelers:
The Steelers improved to 1-4 with a win over the Jets. Pittsburgh showed it can still compete by holding New York to six points. The Steelers got enough offense from Ben Roethlisberger to score a touchdown and four field goals.

Pittsburgh has been beaten by quality opponents, with the Vikings being the exception, 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.

San Francisco 49ers: Odell Beckham, Jr., WR, LSU
The 49ers got a massive game from Vernon Davis (8-180-2) to lead San Francisco to a 12-point win over Arizona. While Davis played great, no other receiver had 30 yards or four receptions for San Francisco. The team needs to aide the development of Colin Kaepernick with some more talent at receiver.

Beckham, Jr. has been one of the most explosive players in college football this season. He is averaging 19.8 yards per reception with 37 catches for 733 yards and six touchdowns. The junior has also been a weapon on kick returns. The 6-foot, 187-pounder would give Kaepernick a deep threat who could help open up the 49ers ground game.

Pittsburgh Steelers: Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M
The Steelers won their first game of 2013, but still showed some of the same offensive line problems that have plagued the team for years. The New York Jets totaled four sacks and limited Pittsburgh’s running backs to 62 yards on the ground. Levi Brown wasn’t getting the job done for the Cardinals, so planning on him to solve the Steelers’ issues at left tackle seems to be wishful thinking.

If the Steelers could land Matthews, he would be an instant upgrade. He has validated his status as a high first-round pick and a franchise left tackle about halfway through this season. Matthews has been superb as the blind-side protector for Johnny Manziel. After playing well at right tackle for three years, Matthews has made a flawless switch to the left side. He is a quality run-blocker and excellent pass-protector. Matthews could make a big difference for Pittsburgh’s offense.



Carolina Panthers: Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M
The Panthers stomped the Vikings as Cam Newton had a nice bounce-back performance. However, Carolina still hasn’t equipped him enough to win on a weekly basis. Newton needs a true No. 1 receiver as Steve Smith is declining and Brandon LaFell is a better fit as a No. 2. A big wide out who can be a possession receiver in the short to intermediate part of the field while also making plays downfield could have a massive impact on the Panthers’ offense.

The top draft-eligible receiver to execute that role is Evans. He has been superb as the No. 1 receiver Johnny Manziel the past two seasons. This year, Evans has 32 receptions for 737 yards with five touchdowns. He caught 82 passes for 1,105 yards with five scores last year. The 6-foot-5, 225-pounder has the speed to make plays downfield and looks like a true No. 1 for the NFL.

Houston Texans: Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon
Many Texans fans wanted Matt Schaub benched, and they got their wish when he left the game against the Rams with a lower leg injury. Schaub could miss significant time and T.J. Yates could get an opportunity to show he is starting material. Yates looks more like a solid backup while Houston needs a play-making quarterback. The regime may sell out over the offseason to land a franchise quarterback. Doing a trade up for a player like Mariota would make sense if the talented signal-caller enters the 2014 NFL Draft after his redshirt sophomore season.

Mariota has run for 462 yards (426 net) with eight touchdowns this season. He has completed 61 percent of passes for 1,724 yards with 17 touchdowns and zero interceptions, too. The 6-foot-4, 211-pounder has a great physical skill set. Mariota has showed real accuracy as a passer as he can throw some deep balls to hit receivers in stride while possessing a fastball to hit some tight windows. Mariota makes good decisions with the football and uses his legs to make some big plays when he needs to. Mariota could be a true franchise quarterback for the Texans.

Denver Broncos: Aaron Colvin, CB, Oklahoma
The Broncos had no answer for Justin Blackmon on Sunday a week after they were torched by Dez Bryant. Denver’s cornerbacks could face more vacancies in the offseason as Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie will be a free agent and Champ Bailey could retire, or the organization could decide they want to get younger. The Broncos play with a lot of leads, so having good cover corners is essential to protecting those victories.

Denver won’t be drafting high enough to land the top corner, but a player like Colvin could be a nice value. The 6-foot, 190-pounder has the ability to play man or zone coverage and can match up on big receivers. He has maintained good coverage in 2013 and teams rarely throw his direction. Colvin has 24 tackles with 3.5 tackles for a loss. He would make a lot of sense for the Broncos’ scheme with his flexibility to play multiple coverages.



Chicago Bears: Trent Murphy, DE, Stanford
The Bears’ defense has featured a meager pass rush in 2013 that hasn’t been up to the team’s traditional standards. Two reasons are Henry Melton being out of the lineup and Julius Pepper being slowed down by Father Time. Chicago hasn’t had Shea McClellin turn into an impact rusher, either. He has only .5 sacks after six games this season. With the Giants’ weak offensive line, the Bears pass rush should have performed better. Chicago has to add some pass-rushers next offseason.

Murphy has been one of the nation’s best and most consistent pass-rushers for the last two season. He is athletic and has the skill set to beat tackles with a speed rush or power. Murphy is a physical player who will be a good fit for Chicago’s defense under Mel Tucker.

Murphy had 10 sacks, 56 tackles, 18 tackles for a loss, four passes batted, one forced fumble and a pick-six last year. In 2013, he has five sacks, 22 tackles, eight tackles for a loss and an interception. Landing Murphy (6-6, 260) in the first round could be a nice move to start the rebuilding of the Bears’ defensive line.

Philadelphia Eagles: HaHa Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama
The Buccaneers had terrible production from their tight ends this season, yet Tim Wright exploded for 91 yards and seven receptions versus the Eagles. Philadelphia made him look like a Pro Bowler. The safety play from Patrick Chung and Nate Allen has been a real weakness for the Eagles this year, so the organization has to find some upgrades in the offseason.

If Philadelphia is picking in the middle of the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft, Clinton-Dix could be a good value. 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 this year 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. You can bet Nick Saban will reinstate Clinton-Dix before Alabama plays LSU.



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.

New York Giants:
In the NFL, an 0-6 start is no fluke. The Giants won the Lombardi Trophy just two years ago, but they seem light years away from competing for another one. New York has major problems on both sides of the ball that need to be rectified before the team can get back to post-season contention. The organization is fortunate to have a franchise quarterback with some other special talent, and because of that a quick turnaround is possible.

As many coaches have preached, it all starts up front, and the Giants are terrible at controlling the line of scrimmage. The most damaging flaws on New York’s roster are the offensive and defensive line. The former is the worst shape of any position group on the roster despite the team using its first-round pick of the 2013 NFL Draft on an offensive lineman.

The Giants have to get their offensive line in better form. The line’s subpar play has been a huge factor in Eli Manning being on pace to throw 40 interceptions this season. In the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft, New York will have to give serious consideration to selecting an offensive tackle. If Texas A&M’s Jake Matthews or Michigan’s Taylor Lewan are available, either would make a lot of sense for the Giants. If they drafted one of those to play left tackle, they could move William Beatty to right tackle and Justin Pugh inside to guard. New York could also use another guard to go with Pugh for a young, revamped offensive line.

The Giants once-forceful pass rush has gone flaccid. Jason Pierre-Paul hasn’t been as dynamic the past two seasons and the team hasn’t had another pass-rusher who can pick up the slack. Jay Cutler didn’t have any pressure to deal with on Thursday night. While the Bears offensive front is improved, it isn’t one of the NFL’s elite pass-blocking units. If Jadeveon Clowney is available, he could be a superstar in New York. Clowney has some diva to him, so the Giants’ coaching staff and locker room veterans would need to make sure he doesn’t get distracted in the Big Apple with the celebrity lifestyle.

Defensively, New York could also use some help at linebacker and in the secondary. The team has lacked a play-maker at linebacker for years since veteran additions haven’t panned out. The Giants would do well to land a linebacker like Connecticut’s Yawin Smallwood or Florida State’s Christian Jones on the second day of the 2014 NFL Draft. New York could also consider a cornerback like Oklahoma State’s Justin Gilbert or Georgia’s Damien Swann. A safety like USC’s Dion Bailey or Stanford’s Ed Reynolds is also worth considering.

The Giants’ first-round pick could be very intriguing. They could choose a potential Lawrence Taylor-like phenom in Clowney, but the offensive tackle position could also provide a huge impact by protecting their franchise quarterback; Matthews could be a safer pick than Clowney. New York general manager Jerry Reese could have a tough decision at this pick, but if he can rework New York’s line play, Manning could be leading the franchise back to the postseason before long.

Jacksonville Jaguars:
Jacksonville head coach Gus Bradley deserves a lot of credit for keeping the Jaguars playing hard despite the obvious fact that they have no chance of making the playoffs. At the same time, the coaching staff from last year had basically the same roster and the Jaguars were playing better than they are in 2013. The rebuilding job in Jacksonville looks as big as, or maybe worse than, starting an expansion team. The Jaguars have a talentless roster that isn’t close to being a contender.

First-year general manager David Caldwell gave little reason for confidence in his abilities with a terrible offseason. Jacksonville had plenty of money available and avoided easy upgrades in free agency. Caldwell decided to stick with Blaine Gabbert despite better quarterbacks available and used the No. 2-overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft on a right tackle. After trading away Eugene Monroe, the Jaguars are right back where they started when Caldwell took the job with a projected left tackle, a bust at quarterback, nothing else on the offensive line and a defense without play-makers. It looks like Caldwell wasn’t ready for a general manager position and was a bad hire by owner Shad Khan.

The first thing the organization has to do this offseason is admit that Gabbert was a busted pick and move on. Gabbert isn’t an NFL quarterback and should go to the arena league. Jacksonville’s first selection in the 2014 NFL Draft has to be Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater, Oregon’s Marcus Mariota or UCLA’s Brett Hundley. The organization should likely take whichever signal-caller grades out the highest.

After that, the Jaguars have to get the quarterback some talent. Justin Blackmon is emerging as a potential star, but they need to build up their offensive line. Guard Will Rackley could be one of the worst starting players in the NFL, and the team’s interior offensive line made Broncos tackle Malik Jackson look like a Pro Bowl caliber player on Sunday. Jacksonville also needs a right tackle along with more talent at guard.

Maurice Jones-Drew is entering free agency and looks like he will move on to play for a contender before his career is done. If somehow Baylor running back Lache Seastrunk falls to the Jaguars second-round pick, he could be make big difference in taking the pressure off the franchise’s new quarterback. Jacksonville could also use more talent at tight end and receiving talent to go with Blackmon and Cecil Shorts.

Defensively, the Jaguars need talent along the defensive line and at cornerback. They don’t seem to have any long-term answers at either position. The linebackers aren’t as bad and they have some young safeties in Jonathan Cyprien and Josh Evans.

After taking a quarterback with their first pick, the Jaguars should basically go for the most talented player available regardless of position. Jacksonville is going to need a few good draft classes and free agency periods before the Jaguars can compete for the post-season. Khan has to decide this season if Caldwell and Bradley are up to the task.









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