Monday Morning Draft – Wild Card

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:

Houston Texans:
The Texans have the luxury of the No. 1 pick in the 2014 NFL Draft for Houston.

The Texans could consider a pass-rusher like Jadeveon Clowney in the first round if there isn’t a quarterback worth taking over Clowney. Teddy Bridgewater may not grade out ahead of Clowney, and Houston general manager Rick Smith may decide to target a quarterback like Clemson’s Tajh Boyd on Day 2. Also, the Texans could go the Chiefs’ route and look to acquire a veteran quarterback like Kirk Cousins.

Even though Bridgewater isn’t the same caliber of athlete as Clowney, Houston will have four months for Bill O’Brien to fall in love with a quarterback prospect and want him with the first pick. The Texans also could consider trading up from the second round to get another quarterback prospect like Central Florida’s Blake Bortles or UCLA’s Brett Hundley.

If Houston is able to land an elite quarterback prospect or Clowney, it wouldn’t be surprising for the franchise to have an immediate turnaround to being a playoff contender again in 2014.

St. Louis Rams:
The Rams pick second thanks to having the Redskins’ first-round pick. Once again, St. Louis will auction off the pick.

General manager Les Snead has traded down in each of his drafts for the franchise. If the Rams are stuck here, Snead would have to decide if his organization is ready to move on from Sam Bradford or try to build around him. If it is the former, St. Louis could target Teddy Bridgewater. In the latter route, the Rams could consider Texas A&M left tackle Jake Matthews or perhaps Clemson wide receiver Sammy Watkins. With Chris Long and Robert Quinn, St. Louis doesn’t have a need to draft Clowney.

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: Stephon Tuitt, DE, Notre Dame
The Chiefs have some excellent edge-rushers in Juston Houston and Tamba Hali, but the team could use a defensive lineman who also has the ability to get to the quarterback. Tuitt would be a good replacement for Tyson Jackson. Tuitt would give Kansas City a 3-4 defensive end who can get after the quarterback. His size and speed would go well with Dontari Poe.

Tuitt recorded 49 tackles with nine tackles for a loss, 7.5 sacks, one forced fumble and a pick-six this year. In 2012, he was 20 pounds lighter and faster as an edge-rusher. Tuitt had 12 sacks, 47 tackles, three forced fumbles, one pass break up and a 77-yard fumble return for a touchdown – against Navy – that season. The 6-foot-6, 320-pounder is versatile enough to play defensive tackle and defensive end.

Philadelphia Eagles: HaHa Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama
The Eagles had problems with their secondary all season. The team was vulnerable to pass-receiving tight ends and the safeties were a major weakness. That was exposed again by Drew Brees. Philadelphia has to replace Patrick Chung; landing Clinton-Dix in the first round would be just what the doctor ordered.

Clinton-Dix had 51 tackles with four passes broken up and two interceptions in 2013. He has a lot of what Chip Kelly wants in a player. Clinton-Dix is very smart and instinctive. He is versatile given his ability to cover receivers in man coverage, play zone and defends the run well. Kelly also likes size in his defenders to beat up on smaller players. Clinton-Dix is a big safety who can tackle with force.

Cincinnati Bengals: Tajh Boyd, QB, Clemson
The Bengals need to get another quarterback option who can push Andy Dalton. After another disappointing performance in the playoffs, Dalton should see some competition. Cincinnati has a good roster around the quarterbacks so the organization can afford to take a quarterback on the second day of the 2014 NFL Draft.

Dalton doesn’t have the strongest arm, which is one of the strengths of Boyd. Boyd throws a good deep ball and would be a nice quarterback to pair with A.J. Green. As a senior, Boyd completed 69 percent of his passes for 3,851 yards with 34 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. He also ran for 634 yards (400 net) and 10 touchdowns. Boyd would be a good fit in Jay Gruden’s offense.

Green Bay Packers: Marcus Smith, OLB, Louisville
The Packers needed to get more from Nick Perry against the 49ers. He has flashed at times, but he hasn’t yet become a steady edge-rusher on the other side from Clay Matthews. Green Bay could use a second-day or mid-round pick to bolster the organization’s edge rush. Smith would be a good selection to give the Packers a situational edge-rusher.

Smith finished the 2013 season with 14.5 sacks for Louisville. He also recorded 42 tackles with 18.5 tackles for a loss, four forced fumbles and three passes broken up. The 6-foot-3, 252-pounder fits best as a 3-4 outside linebacker in the NFL who can rush from a variety of spots. If Smith performs well at the Senior Bowl, he could have a steady climb up draft boards in the months to come.

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