Monday Morning Draft – Week 3

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:

Tampa Bay Buccaneers:
The Bucs are 0-3 after getting blown out by Atlanta on Thursday Night Football. This will be another long year in Tampa Bay. Head coach Lovie Smith and general manager Jason Licht were given a huge hole to dig out of by former general manager Mark Dominik and head coach Greg Schiano. The five years of terrible drafting by Dominik and current Dolphins general manager Dennis Hickey are coming back to bite Tampa Bay. It’s going to take a long time for Smith and Licht to clean up this mess.

The Buccaneers just don’t have the talent on their roster to match up with the other teams in their division. In the long run, Tampa Bay could be better off tanking this year to get an elite quarterback who is capable of competing head to head with Drew Brees, Matt Ryan and Cam Newton. Landing Marcus Mariota or Jameis Winston would be huge for Tampa Bay. For more on the Bucs’ rebuilding project, scroll down to the “Team Draft Report” section.

Jacksonville Jaguars:
For the second-straight game, Jacksonville wasn’t competitive. The Colts destroyed the Jaguars 44-17. It was an ugly, lop-sided butt kicking for Jacksonville, just like last week when the Jaguars were blown out by the Redskins 41-10. Blake Bortles had a mixed outing in a half of play, but it makes sense to get Bortles some experience since Jacksonville isn’t going anywhere. It looks like the Jaguars are destined for another top-10 pick.

If the Jaguars land the first pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, they would probably look to get an RG3-like trade package in a move down with hopes of landing a boatload of picks to build up the roster around Bortles. With the lack of progress from 2013 to 2014, Jacksonville may not have the leadership in place in the front office and coaching staff to make the team competitive.

Oakland Raiders:
The Raiders were surprisingly competitive in a 16-9 loss at New England. Oakland almost tied the game late in the fourth quarter. After getting blown out by Houston last week, it was impressive to see the Raiders fight the Patriots in a close game.

Oakland should continue to improve during the season as Derek Carr gains experience, but the team has a ridiculously hard schedule and is in a division that featured three playoff teams last year. The Raiders should be in the hunt for the No. 1 pick of the 2015 NFL Draft all season. If they land it, a new regime is likely, and that staff will have no ties to Carr. Thus, a new quarterback is highly likely.

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.

Atlanta Falcons: Markus Golden, OLB, Missouri
It only took three weeks and a weak offensive line for the Falcons to finally be able to record some sacks. They hadn’t in Weeks 1 and 2. Perhaps Atlanta will see some edge rushers emerge from Jonathan Massaquoi and Stansly Maponga, but most likely the Falcons will need to get more help with players who can put heat on the quarterback. In Atlanta’s revamped defensive scheme, Golden would be a nice fit.

Golden has shown that he is extremely fast off the edge with the athleticism to get around blockers. He’s commanded double-team attention this year, and that has helped Shane Ray to get one-on-ones on the other side. In 2014, Golden has recorded four sacks, 21 tackles with 6.5 tackles for a loss. Off the snap, he has a fabulous first-step with the ability to get off blocks. Golden would be a nice first- or second-round pick for the Falcons.

San Diego Chargers: Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin
San Diego could use a more reliable ground game to augment Philip Rivers. Donald Brown is better as a rotational back, while Ryan Mathews can’t stay healthy. Danny Woodhead is also a complementary back. The Chargers could use a lead back, and it would be good if they could add some more explosiveness to their offense. Gordon would certainly fit that bill.

The 6-foot-1, 207-pound Gordon is reminiscent of Chris Johnson coming out of East Carolina and when he was playing at an elite level for the Titans. In 2014, Gordon has averaged 9.4 yards per carry for 431 yards with six touchdowns. His amazing speed has him tied for the FBS record in career average in yards per carry with stellar mark of 8.26 yards per carry. Gordon is validating a first-round grade.

New York Giants: Bernardrick McKinney, ILB, Mississippi State
The Giants were fortunate that Arian Foster didn’t play on Sunday. Alfred Blue had 78 yards on 13 carries, and if the Texans had Foster, he could have made a big difference in the outcome of the game. New York got a good game from Jameel McClain, but the organization could use more help at linebacker.

McKinney is an athletic defender who is both tough in the ground game and can function as a pass-defender. In 2014, he has 27 tackles with five tackles for a loss. McKinney would be a nice addition for New York on the second day of the 2015 NFL Draft.

Cincinnati Bengals: Dante Fowler, DE/OLB, Florida
The Bengals rolled to a 3-0 start after dismantling Tennessee. One thing the Bengals could use is more edge rushing. Margus Hunt hasn’t recorded a sack this season and only had .5 sacks as a rookie. Cincinnati has a good defensive end in Carlos Dunlap, but the team could use another edge rusher on the other side.

The 6-foot-3, 270-pound Fowler is a disruptive edge rusher with great speed off the edge. In the early going of 2014, he’s been one of the better defenders in college football. Fowler plays outside linebacker, but he has the ability to play defensive end in a 4-3 defense – although he’ll need to improve his run defense to hold up against downhill runs. Through three games this season, Fowler has 13 tackles with three tackles for a loss, one sack and two forced fumbles. He could be a nice pick for Cincinnati at the end of the first round.

Detroit Lions: Danny Shelton, DT, Washington
The Lions look likely to lose at least one of Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley in free agency. They both made plays to help limit the Packers to only seven points on Sunday, so adding a difference-maker on the inside makes sense for Detroit. Suh is more likely to remain, and Shelton could form a great tandem Suh.

The 6-foot-2, 340-pound Shelton could eat up blockers and stuff runs at the point of attack for Detroit. With Shelton, the Lions would also be able to incorporate more 3-4 schemes as he could play the nose tackle. Shelton also has shown the ability to get after the quarterback this season. He has been incredibly productive in 2014 and leads the nation with seven sacks, 40 tackles and 9.5 tackles for a loss. Shelton would be an interesting addition for the Lions.

New Orleans Saints: Jaelen Strong, WR, Arizona State
The Saints have some depth at receiver, but they’re missing a big wide out who can pick up for the declining Marques Colston. Brandin Cooks should turn into big play-maker for Drew Brees, but it will help the New Orleans offense to have a receiver with size to go on the other side of the field from Jimmy Graham.

The 6-foot-3, 212-pound Strong would be a nice fit in the New Orleans offense. After three games this season, he has 19 receptions for 266 yards and two touchdowns. Aside from Colston, New Orleans really doesn’t have a receiver with size, so getting a player like Strong makes sense to diversify the weapons for Brees. Taking Strong on the second day of the 2015 NFL Draft would make sense for the Saints.

Kansas City Chiefs: Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama
The Chiefs were able to get their first win of the season even though they didn’t get much out of their passing offense. Dwayne Bowe was a non-factor thanks to Ben Grimes, and Alex Smith clearly needs some play-making wide receivers. Smith isn’t good enough to make plays on his own. Kansas City’s offense could get a huge boost if the organization was able to land Cooper with its first-round pick of the 2015 NFL Draft.

This season, Cooper has 43 receptions for 655 yards and five touchdowns. The 6-foot-1, 210-pounder has been absolutely dominant. He looks like a smaller version of Julio Jones. Against Florida, Cooper put on a display of great route-running, speed, hands, run-after-the catch-ability and skills to fight for 50-50 balls. He would make a huge difference for Kansas City.

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.

Miami Dolphins:
Miami was handled by Kansas City on Sunday, and after a thrilling win over the Patriots to start the season, the Dolphins look like they are no better than mediocre. Another .500 or losing season will probably cause Miami to move on from Joe Philbin, but an entire house cleaning, including general manager Dennis Hickey is needed for the Dolphins to become competitive again. If you want evidence of Hickey’s draft-evaluation skills, take a close look at Tampa Bay’s roster. The Dolphins have a lot of holes to fill in order to overtake the Patriots in the AFC East, so getting a general manager with a good eye for talent as well as a competent coaching staff is necessary.

The Dolphins had a dreadful offensive line in 2013, and that remains a crushing weakness. Kansas City’s front seven dominated Miami on Sunday. With Mike Pouncey out, the middle of the Dolphins’ line is extremely weak. Assuming their offensive tackle additions from last offseason work out, the Dolphins can look to upgrade the guard position next year. On the second day of the 2015 NFL Draft, Miami could get some big-body blockers who are used to the heat with Florida State guards Josue Matias or Tre Jackson. Moving Seminoles left tackle Cameron Erving to guard is also an option with a second-day pick. Signing a good free agent guard and drafting another would make sense for Miami.

The Dolphins will probably look to dump Mike Wallace’s salary in a year or two, so a true No. 1 receiver for Ryan Tannehill has to be considered. If Amari Cooper is on the board when Miami is picking in the first round, it would be hard to pass him up.

The Dolphins also could use a difference-maker at running back unless Lamar Miller can consistently play like he did against Kansas City. Georgia’s Todd Gurley or Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon also would be worthy candidates for Miami’s first-round pick.

Defensively, the team could use more talented youth at cornerback. Ben Grimes and Cortland Finnegan won’t be in the NFL long term. Jelani Jenkins had an excellent game on Sunday, but more help at linebacker could be a consideration for the Dolphins. If Dion Jordan doesn’t stand out after he returns from suspension, a young edge rusher to prepare behind Cameron Wake may have to be considered.

Miami’s defense is further along, so fixing the offense with help on the line and the skill positions has to be the top priority for the Dolphins in the 2015 offseason.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers:
Tampa Bay general manager Jason Licht and head coach Lovie Smith have a massive rebuilding project on their hands. When they were hired last January, the reports that the Bucs were ready for a quick turnaround because of the talent that Licht and Smith inherited were complete spin by media members trying to put a positive light on the disastrous reign of former general manager Mark Dominik. Smith and Licht received a team that had garbage on the offensive line, only one player on the defensive line and a huge void at quarterback. That is a recipe for losing in the NFL and too much to makeover in one offseason. The Buccaneers are the poster child for how a bust quarterback (Josh Freeman in 2009) can set a franchise back for five or more years. Plus, they had a ton of busted picks on the defensive line and wasted big contracts on veterans for the offensive line.

Smith is a good coach, so it wouldn’t be surprising if Tampa Bay plays better in the second half of the season, still the organization should have another top-16 pick for the fourth-straight year. Most likely, the Bucs will be picking in the top 10 again. If they have a shot at a franchise quarterback, that is the route they have to go. Josh McCown is just a stop-gap, while Mike Glennon looks better off as a backup. Landing Marcus Mariota or Jameis Winston would be huge for Tampa Bay. Either one is a good fit for Jeff Tedford’s offense, and Smith’s guidance could be just what Winston needs to grow up. Plus, Florida State trustee and Bucs Hall of Famer Derrick Brooks would mentor Winston.

If the Buccaneers don’t land a quarterback in the first round, they have a few routes to go. Tampa Bay is weak up front on both sides of the ball. The team needs a pass rusher to go with Gerald McCoy, and the offensive line is weak, too. Trading for Logan Mankins was a nice addition, but the Buccaneers need another guard along with improvements at bott offensive tackles. Drafting a player like Stanford’s Andrus Peat, Texas A&M’s La’el Collins, Iowa’s Brandon Scherff or LSU’s La’el Collins would allow them to move Anthony Collins inside to guard and give Tampa Bay a potential franchise left tackle.

A defensive end would make a lot of sense for the Bucs. Tampa Bay hasn’t had a double-digit sack producer since Simeon Rice in 2005. The picks of Adrian Clayborn and DaQuan Bowers were complete busts. Nebraska’s Randy Gregory, USC’s Leonard Williams, Florida’s Dante Fowler or Baylor’s Shawn Oakman would provide an upgrade for Tampa Bay.

Aside from those big needs, Tampa Bay has other weaknesses to address. The Bucs could use help at cornerback and a wide receiver to go with Mike Evans in the long run. Depth throughout the roster is a problem, especially on the lines.

Obviously, from the first three weeks of the 2014 season, the Buccaneers are a long ways from being ready to beat Matt Ryan, Drew Brees or Cam Newton. However, Tampa Bay has a better coach and general manager to rebuild the team compared to the last regime that progressively made the organization worse.

Fantasy Football Rankings - May 23

2025 NFL Mock Draft - May 21

NFL Power Rankings - Feb. 22

NFL Picks - Feb. 12