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.
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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 7 action.
The Jaguars were dropped by the Chargers with ease to remain winless. Jackonville has a real shot at going 0-16. The question is if the new Jaguars regime will survive if the squad goes winless this season.
Jacksonville 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 the Jaguars looks destined for a miserable season. They traded away Eugene Monroe, so despite drafting Luke Joeckel, they still have a big hole at offensive tackle.
Jacksonville has to move on from Gabbert, and the organization would definitely take a quarterback if it lands 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:
Tampa Bay lost 31-23 to the Falcons. The Buccaneers are 0-6 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 1-11 in his last 12 games and is 7-15 overall. General manager Mark Dominik is 24-46 running the team and is approaching Matt Millen territory.
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. A quarterback is the most likely target for Tampa Bay’s first-round pick.
New York Giants:
The Giants play against Minnesota on Monday night. New York was dropped to 0-6 last week, and the team’s terrible start to the 2013 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 the Giants end up with a pick at the top of the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft, they would go with Clowney or maybe an offensive tackle like Matthews. It would be a tough decision for general manager Jerry Reese.
The Vikings are the only 1-4 team in the NFL, but the Giants could join them if Minnesota loses on the road later tonight. The Vikings season got off to an 0-3 start before beating the Steelers “at home” – in London – in Week 4. Minnesota was dropped by the Panthers at home 35-10 following its bye.
The Vikings are hoping that inserting Josh Freeman into the lineup will turn their season around, but considering how he was playing for Tampa Bay, that looks like a long shot. Freeman is talented, but coming to the team during the season is very tough obstacle for any quarterback. He is behind the eight-ball with the playbook along with continuity with his receivers and offensive line.
If Freeman plays well enough to be re-signed, Minnesota could go after Clowney as a replacement for impending free agent Jared Allen. If Freeman doesn’t play well, the Vikings will have to target a franchise quarterback and hope that the talented redshirt sophomores of Oregon’s Marcus Mariota and UCLA’s Brett Hundley enter the 2014 NFL Draft.
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.
Washington Redskins: Yawin Smallwood, ILB, Connecticut
The Redskins won a shootout thanks to their offense, but Washington’s defense continued to have issues keeping the opponent out of the end zone. Matt Forte ran for three touchdowns and the Redskins could use a young inside linebacker to replace veteran London Fletcher.
Smallwood has been excellent for Connecticut this season with 77 tackles, four tackles for a loss, one forced fumble, one sack and three passes broken up. He is very fast and covers a lot of ground in the middle of the field. Smallwood would be a good fit in Washington’s defense on the inside of its 3-4. The Redskins could look to land him on the second day of the 2104 NFL Draft.
Baltimore Ravens: Brandon Coleman, WR, Rutgers
The Ravens have been missing Anquan Boldin all season. Defenses are able to double-team Torrey Smith with bracket coverage since Baltimore doesn’t have another receiver who can take advantage of consistent one-on-ones. Joe Flacco badly needs a possession receiver who can move the chains.
The 6-foot-6, 220-pound Coleman has been slow to start the 2013 season after knee surgery in the preseason. However, he is a big target who also has some quickness. Coleman has 20 receptions for 286 yards and two scores this year. He had 10 touchdowns on 43 receptions for 718 yards in 2012 while playing in a ground-based offense. Coleman would be a good fit for Baltimore.
Atlanta Falcons: Jarvis Landry, WR, LSU
The Falcons got a huge game from Harry Douglas with Julio Jones and Roddy White out of the lineup. The only reason that happened was because Tampa Bay didn’t have Darrelle Revis shadow Douglas. Instead, the Bucs had their All-Pro corner match up on the new receivers who just got elevated from the practice squad. White is aging and Tony Gonzalez is probably retiring after this year, so Atlanta needs to add some more receiving weapons for Matt Ryan.
The polished Landry is a great fit in the Falcons’ offense. He is a sharp route-runner who has reliable hands with the quickness to get separation. Landry has 53 receptions this year for 795 yards with eight touchdowns. Atlanta would do well to land him on the second day of the 2014 NFL Draft.
Cincinnati Bengals: Jason Verrett, CB, TCU
The Bengals took a hit with Leon Hall suffering a torn Achilles that will keep him out for the rest of the season. The veteran is Cincinnati’s best cornerback and this injury could carry over into 2014. Adam ‘Pacman’ Jones and Terrance Newman are older veterans, so the Bengals could use a young corner to pair with Dre Kirkpatrick. Calvin Johnson torched the Cincinnati, and teams are going to go after the veterans the rest of this season.
Verrett is one of the top corners in college football, and the gritty defensive back would be a good fit in Mike Zimmer’s defense. This year, Verrett has 11 passes broken up with an interception, 24 tackles and a sack. He had six interceptions and 16 passes broken up last season. Verrett (5-10, 176) would makes sense for the Bengals with their first- or second-round pick of the 2014 NFL Draft.
Dallas Cowboys: Trent Murphy, DE, Stanford
The Cowboys’ defensive line has been reduced to shambles, but Dallas was still able to hold Philadelphia to only three points. Anthony Spencer could leave after the season and Monte Kiffin needs some linemen to run his scheme. DeMarcus Ware is aging, so the Cowboys should look to land a young pass-rusher.
Murphy had 10 sacks in 2012 and is poised to go well beyond that this year. He already has seven sacks with five coming in the last three games. Murphy has three multi-sack games this season. The 6-foot-6, 260-pounder is versatile in that he can play defensive end or 3-4 outside linebacker. Murphy would make a lot of sense for the Cowboys’ first-round pick in the 2014 NFL Draft.
New York Jets: Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
It is amazing how well Geno Smith has played for the Jets considering how poor his receivers are. Jeremy Kerley and David Nelson played well on Sunday, but New York clearly needs a long-term No. 1 receiver for Smith to work with. Santonio Holmes has a big salary and could be a cap cut after the season.
Watkins would be a good receiver for the Jets because he would stretch the defenses vertically and help open up the running game. Watkins has 44 receptions for 650 yards with five touchdowns this season. He is one of the fastest and most explosive players in college football. If the Jets are able to land Watkins in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft, he would be a huge addition for Smith.
Buffalo Bills: Kyle Van Noy, OLB, BYU
The Bills got a two-sack game from Mario Williams as Buffalo improved to 3-4 on the season. Miami’s weak offensive line kept the Bills’ other defenders from notching a sack, and Buffalo could use another edge-rusher to go on the other side from Williams.
Van Noy would be a great fit in the Bills’ 3-4 defense. His ability to drop into pass coverage or rush off the edge makes him a real weapon for defensive coordinators. Van Noy (6-3, 245) was a monster in 2012 with 22 tackles for a loss, 13 sacks, 53 tackles, two interceptions, six forced fumbles and two blocked kicks. He has continued to produce splash plays this year. The senior has four sacks, a pick-six, 32 tackles, 11 tackles for a loss and five passes batted. As a pick in the middle of the first round, Van Noy could provide a big impact for Buffalo.
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.
After a rough start to the season, the Steelers are playing better football. However, the organiztion clearly has some work to do on its roster before the team will be a threat in January. In Pittsburgh, the team is expected to reload rather than rebuild, so Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert and head coach Mike Tomlin have their work cut out for them.
The offensive line has been a weakness for years, and that problem has persisted in 2013. Mike Adams hasn’t panned out as a left tackle to protect Ben Roethlisberger, and Levi Brown wasn’t good at Arizona before being dealt to the Steelers, so they can’t count on either of them. In the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft, Pittsburgh should target Texas A&M’s Jake Matthews to be the organization’s franchise left tackle. If Matthews is off the board, the Steelers could possibly land Michigan’s Taylor Lewan.
Adding a left tackle could cause a chain reaction to improve Pittsburgh’s offensive line if Adams or Brown can be a serviceable right tackle. Marcus Gilbert can compete at guard to go with first-rounders Maurkice Pouncey and David DeCastro.
If the Steelers don’t have a receiver emerge later in the season, they could consider adding more talent. Pittsburgh has missed Mike Wallace this season as he opened up a lot of coverage for Antonio Brown, Emmanuel Sanders and Heath Miller. LSU wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr. could be a fit on the second day of the 2014 NFL Draft.
Defensively, the Steelers have a few areas they could improve. Pittsburgh lost Casey Hampton in the offseason and a long-term difference maker at nose tackle could make sense. Notre Dame’s Louis Nix could be an option in the first round. Tennessee’s Daniel McCullers would make sense after the first round.
At cornerback, Ike Taylor is aging and Keenan Lewis was lost in free agency. Colbert and Tomlin have preferred to draft corners on the second day. If they follow that path again, they could think of Oklahoma State’s Justin Gilbert. He would be a nice scheme fit for Pittsburgh.
If the Steelers can make regaining control of the line of scrimmage the offseason priority, that could lead them to being a postseason contender again. A rejuvenated running game would help Roethlisberger and make the defense’s job easier. Colbert needs to make some astute moves if Pittsburgh is going to compete for another Lombardi before the window of having Roethlisberger closes.
Seattle handled Arizona on Thursday night, and the Seahawks look like the strongest team in the NFC right now. They came close to the Super Bowl last year and look poised to go on another run in January. Seattle has a loaded roster as general manager John Schneider has done a tremendous job of building up talent. The coaching staff led by Pete Carroll has been a great at developing the team’s players. The Seahawks only have a few needs they need to address.
The biggest issue for Seattle has been the right side of the offensive line. The team could use a new right tackle to be a bookend with Russell Okung. In the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft, the Seahawks could consider Tennessee’s Antonio Richardson, North Carolina’s James Hurst or Alabama’s Cyrus Kouandjio. Seattle could continue to build up the offensive line with some guard help. Baylor’s Cyril Richardson or Stanford’s David Yankey would be nice fits there.
One area the Seahawks could address would be some more receiving weapons for Russell Wilson. The trade for Percy Harvin hasn’t paid off yet, but when healthy, he could make the offense scary. Seattle would be wise to add a big receiver to pair with him. Sidney Rice has had a hard time staying on the field, and it wouldn’t hurt for the front office to build up a stable of receivers for Wilson to work with. If the Seahawks draft one in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft, a wide out like Rutgers’ Brandon Coleman makes sense. Schneider just saw Coleman in person at the Rutgers vs Louisville game. Obviously, Schneider wasn’t there to see Teddy Bridgewater.
Defensively, the only thing Seattle could actually need is defensive line help. Michael Bennett was only signed to a 1-year contract, and if he isn’t brought back, the team could need another edge-rusher. On the second day of the 2014 NFL Draft, North Carolina defensive end Kareem Martin would be a nice fit. The Seahawks have the coaching staff to potentially get the most out of the physically talented Martin. If they can get him to play up to his talent level, he could be an impact defensive end. Martin would make sense in the second round since the Seattle is without a third-round selection.
If the Seahawks address these needs in free agency, it would give the organization excellent flexibility in the 2014 NFL Draft. At such a point of strength, Seattle can afford to select the best players available and add more talent to the roster. The Seahawks could think of a quarterback in a strong draft class for signal-callers. If they draft a quarterback on the second day, they could have a good backup behind Russell Wilson and potentially deal that backup for draft picks in the future. Seattle is without its third-round pick due to the Harvin trade, but that shouldn’t stop Schneider from continuing to build one of the best rosters in the NFL.
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