Monday Morning Draft – Week 1

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.

Play like a Carcass For Marcus:

St. Louis Rams:
The Rams’ season was essentially over before it started when Sam Bradford went out for the year. St. Louis has talent on defense, but that won’t be enough to compensate for the quarterback position. That was evident as the Rams were spanked 34-6 by a rebuilding Vikings team starting a journeyman quarterback in Matt Cassel. St. Louis plays in the hardest division in football, and with a backup or third-string quarterback, the Rams are in trouble.

Oakland Raiders:
The Raiders struggled with the Jets on Sunday losing by five points. Oakland is an improved team over last year, but the Raiders have a ridiculously hard schedule and are starting a rookie quarterback who needs time to develop. Oakland should be in the hunt for the No. 1 pick all season.

Cleveland Browns:
The Browns have two routes to the No. 1 overall pick with their own selection and the Bills’ first-round pick. However, Buffalo and Cleveland both looked like legitimate teams in Week 1 as the Bills won at Chicago and the Browns almost made an epic comeback versus the Steelers. Still, Buffalo and Cleveland could end up having rough seasons, so the Browns having a No. 1 pick seems very possible.

Jacksonville Jaguars:
The Jaguars went up 17-0 on the Eagles before Philadelphia ripped off 34 unanswered points. Jacksonville could be improved this year, but the plan to start Chad Henne means the Jaguars are going to lose most Sundays. Jacksonville also has other holes on the roster that hurt the organization’s ability to win. With the improvement of the Texans and Titans, the Jaguars’ schedule looks harder than first imagined.

New York Giants:
The Giants play the Lions on Monday night. The New York football Giants looks like they could be in for a long year. The offensive line and Eli Manning struggled in the preseason. Meanwhile, the defense isn’t close to the stop unit it was in the Giants’ Super Bowl teams. New York could be in for a long year.

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.

Seattle Seahawks: Laken Tomlinson, G, Duke
The Seahawks have a loaded roster, but one spot they could look to upgrade is the right guard position. Seattle has to hope that Justin Britt will be up to the task of right tackle as a rookie, but he could use a long-term running mate. With the Seahawks’ first pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, they figure to be picking in the late 20s. Thus a guard, or the top-ranked guard isn’t bad value for Seattle.

Tomlinson has a lot of power and athleticism. He would be a great fit for the Seahawks’ smash mouth offensive line. The 6-foot-3, 330-pounder is a tough run-blocker who has improved his pass protection. Tomlinson would be a good downhill blocker for the Seattle offensive line. He could end up grading as high as the first round, but shouldn’t fall out of the second day.

Houston Texans: Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama
The Texans’ offense still leans on Andre Johnson, and the future Hall of Famer is still playing well. However in the long term, Houston needs a replacement to be the No. 1 receiver in Bill O’Brien’s offense. The Texans’ defense might be so good the team doesn’t land a high-enough pick to get a first-round quarterback. If that’s the case, Cooper would be a great route to go.

Cooper has been unstoppable in the early going thus far. Through two games, Cooper has 25 receptions for 319 yards and a touchdown. The 6-foot-1, 210-pounder is fast, strong and physical. He is a tremendous yards-after-the-catch receiver who gets separation from defensive backs. Cooper should be a top-16 pick next May in the 2015 NFL Draft.

Minnesota Vikings: Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia
The Vikings rolled St. Louis, but one reason for some concern was Adrian Peterson running for 75 yards on 21 carries. Peterson has a lot of milage, some significant injuries in his past and turns 30 after this season. Minnesota could use an elite runner to pair with eventual starter Teddy Bridgewater. The Vikings could keep the ball-control running game going if they draft Gurley.

The 6-foot-1, 226-pound Gurley was dominant force to open the 2014 season with 15 carries for 198 yards and three touchdowns. He also returned a kickoff for 100 yards and a score. Gurley could be the most talented running back to enter the NFL since Peterson.

Tennessee Titans: Markus Golden, OLB, Missouri
The Titans’ defense had an impressive opening to the season, shutting down Jamaal Charles. Tennessee saw nice contributions across the board, but one thing the Titans could use is a dangerous edge rusher. A player who could be a great fit in Ray Horton’s 3-4 defense is Golden. Golden is undersized for defensive end in the pros, so he would fit best as a 3-4 outside linebacker.

Two games into the season Golden has 2.5 sacks, one pass batted, five tackles for a loss and 16 tackles. He has serious speed off the edge and has improved his game entering his senior season. The Titans could use some better fits for their new scheme, and Golden would fit that criteria.

Atlanta Falcons: Shawn Oakman, DE, Baylor
The Falcons won a shootout with the Saints with a great game from Matt Ryan. Atlanta’s defense came up with a clutch turnover in overtime, but the defense was not strong at rushing the passer. Drew Brees wasn’t sacked on Sunday, and a lack of pass rush was a problem for Atlanta in 2013. The Falcons are still needing a true replacement for John Abraham.

One of the most impressive players in the first week of the 2014 college football season was Oakman. The 6-foot-9, 280-pounder has been dominant with his power and speed. Oakman has two sacks with a lot of havoc behind the line of scrimmage. The Falcons have wanted to get bigger and more physical on defense. Oakman would definitely keep with that strategy.

Buffalo Bills: Landon Collins, S, Alabama
The Bills pulled off an upset in Chicago, but they gave up a lot of yards as Chicago had 427 yards on offense. Matt Forte, Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery and Martellus Bennett all produced good totals. Buffalo missed Jairus Byrd, and replacing him with an impact player looks like a necessity for the Bills.

Collins would be a nice fit in Buffalo’s defense. He can play both safety positions as he has the speed and discipline to play the deep centerfield while also being strong and tough enough to play in the tackle box. In two games in 2014, Collins has 15 tackles. He also made some clutch stops to help Alabama avoid an upset against West Virginia in Week 1. Collins could make sense for the Bills’ first-round pick.

New York Jets: Ty Montgomery, WR, Stanford
The Jets beat the Raiders, but New York’s passing attack still wasn’t very impressive. Oakland is extremely weak at cornerback, and the Jets didn’t have a receiver top five receptions or 75 yards. New York still needs a No. 1 receiver for its offense.

Montgomery is a versatile play-maker who has mismatch size, strength and speed. He has 2014 is off to a good start with 14 receptions for 160 yards and one touchdown. The senior also has been a dynamic weapon as a punt and kick returner. Montgomery (6-2, 215) has been a 4-year contributor for Stanford and is NFL ready. With his skill set and versatility, Montgomery looks as like he could turn into a 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 2015 NFL Draft.

Kansas City Chiefs:
The Chiefs had that great start to the 2013 season and faded before their playoff loss to the Colts. After some losses in the offseason, Kansas City does not look like a team that is ready to make the playoffs in back-to-back seasons. There are some obvious weaknesses on the Chiefs’ roster.

The biggest issue hurting Kansas City is the offensive line. The guard play looks extremely weak, while Eric Fisher isn’t as good as Brandon Albert was at left tackle. The Chiefs need to improve their offensive line to open holes for Jamaal Charles and give Alex Smith time to throw. Kansas City could consider an offensive lineman like Iowa’s Brandon Scherff or LSU’s La’el Collins in the first round. Either could be fits at guard or tackle in the NFL. If Fisher’s struggles continue, he could play right tackle with the new addition at left tackle. The Chiefs could target guards on Day 2 of the 2015 NFL Draft.

Along with the line, Kansas City looks weak at wide receiver. Donnie Avery should be a third receiver at best. However with Dwayne Bowe out, Avery was the Chiefs’ leading receiver on Sunday. Considering Kansas City already had good pass-rushers, using their first-round pick in the 2014 NFL Draft on Dee Ford instead of a wide receiver like Carolina’s Kelvin Benjamin looks like a terrible mistake. In the 2015 NFL Draft, Kansas City could use a speed receiver with size like Stanford’s Ty Montgomery.

Another position that may have been a better pick than Ford was cornerback where Kansas City passed on Darqueze Dennard and Jason Verrett. The Chiefs look vulnerable at corner.

Still, the most pressing issue for Kansas City in the 2015 offseason looks to be improving the offense with some better blocking and talent at wide receiver. At least the Chiefs won’t be without second-day draft picks anymore.

Green Bay Packers:
Losing at Seattle to start the season isn’t the end of the world for Green Bay. A number of Super Bowl champions have lost in Week 1 but ended up taking home the Lombardi. However, Green Bay has a few weaknesses that could be the reason why the team falls short of a Lombardi.

The Packers have a Super Bowl window with Aaron Rodgers in his prime, but they have to keep him upright. Rodgers’ injury last year almost ruined their postseason hopes, and it killed the chances of getting a first-round bye and home-field advantage. Green Bay has had depth and injury issues on the offensive line for years, and that reared up again in the 2014 season opener. It would make sense for the Packers to draft a versatile offensive lineman on the second day of the 2015 NFL Draft to help improve the overall talent and depth of the blockers in front of Rodgers. Some tackles who could be options on Day 2 as players to stay at tackle or move inside include Florida State’s Cameron Erving or Baylor’s Spencer Drango.

Green Bay may need to address tackle in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft. Some left tackles the Packers could hope to get would include LSU’s La’el Collins or Iowa’s Brandon Scherff. However, the organization would have to move up to land one of those two players. learned from sources that the Packers wanted to draft Ryan Shazier with their first-round pick of the 2014 NFL Draft, but Pittsburgh beat them to him. Green Bay upgraded the middle of its defense with HaHa Clinton-Dix, but the team still needs to improve its inside linebackers. Brad Jones and A.J. Hawk offer very little on the inside. In the first couple of rounds of the 2015 NFL Draft, the Packers could target players like UCLA’s Erik Kendricks or Miami’s Denzel Perryman. Either one of them would improve the speed and instincts at inside linebacker for Green Bay. Both also are effective in pass coverage.

The Packers don’t have a lot of needs on their roster, but the same issues seem to be holding the team back from taking advantage of having the best quarterback in the NFL. The 2015 NFL Draft could provide the answers.

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