Monday Morning Draft – Divisional Round

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.

New Orleans Saints: James Hurst, OT, North Carolina
New Orleans could use an upgrade at right tackle. Plus, it wouldn’t hurt to grab a player with experience on the blind side in case Terron Armstead doesn’t pan out next season. If the Saints are going to make another Super Bowl run, they could use better blocking on the edges.

Hurst (6-7, 310) could fit as a right or left tackle in the NFL. He was a reliable pass-protector for Bryn Renner over Hurst’s years for the Tar Heels and did a good job as a run-blocker for Gio Bernard in 2011-2012. Hurst held his own against Jadeveon Clowney in the 2013 season opener. Hurst enters the NFL with four years of playing time, so he should be able to step onto the field soon.

Indianapolis Colts: DeAndre Coleman, DT, California
Indianapolis was run over by LeGarrette Blount for 166 yards on 24 carries with four touchdowns. The Colts could use a heavy disruptor on the line of scrimmage to help stuff the run and free up their edge-rushers. Coleman could work as a nose tackle in Indianapolis’ defense, or play defensive end.

The 6-foot-5, 320-pound Coleman is a load at the line of scrimmage. He is tough to move at the point of attack. In 2013, Coleman recorded 40 tackles with nine tackles for a loss and 2.5 sacks. As a junior, he totaled 48 tackles, 8.5 tackles for a loss, three sacks and one pass breakup. The Colts could consider Coleman on the second day of the 2014 NFL Draft.

Carolina Panthers: Marcus Roberson, CB, Florida
The Panthers have one of the best defenses in the NFL, but the team’s only weakness on the defensive side of the ball is cornerback. In the second quarter when Carolina lost the momentum to San Francisco, it was because the Panthers didn’t have cornerbacks who could cover Anquan Boldin and Michael Crabtree. Assuming Carolina re-signs Greg Hardy, if the organization can improve the team’s cornerbacks, the defense should be set for years to come.

The Panthers could target Roberson in the first round, and he would be a great value if they could get him in the second round. Roberson (6-0, 184) has upside to be a man-cover corner with an nice combination of size and speed.

I know some league sources who are high on Roberson. The Gators left him on man-coverage islands throughout his collegiate career and he performed excellently, especially in 2012. As a sophomore, Roberson had 23 tackles, two interceptions and 12 passes broken up. The junior recorded 11 tackles with three passes broken up in 2013; he missed a total of five games with a knee injury. Carolina’s defense would upgrade its man-coverage ability with Roberson.

San Diego Chargers: Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State
The Chargers have had issues at cornerbacks for a few years now. San Diego saw that exploited again by Peyton Manning in this season’s playoff loss. For the Chargers to get past the Broncos, San Diego is going to need to improve its ability to cover receivers.

The 5-foot-11, 190-pounder Roby has a lot of speed and athleticism. He entered the season as the top draft-eligible cornerback. In 2012, he was one of the nation’s leaders in passes defended with 19 total passes broken up – 17 batted away and two interceptions. This year was ugly as Roby was repeatedly torched. He looks like a second-day pick, but has the potential to be a good starter in the NFL if he lands with good coaching.

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