Monday Morning Draft – Week 6

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:

Oakland Raiders:
The Raiders played San Diego tough with a 31-28 loss in Tony Sparano’s first game as Oakland’s interim head coach. The Raiders showed some real fight as they gave one of the top teams in the AFC all they could handle.

After getting blown out in the U.K., the Raiders fired head coach Dennis Allen during their bye week. No coach was going to win in the awful situation that Allen inherited, yet he’s the scapegoat for a plethora of front office mistakes under the current and previous regimes.

Oakland could 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 likely with this pick.

Jacksonville Jaguars:
The Titans kept the Jaguars winless with an two-point victory in Jacksonville. Before San Diego cruised to a win over them, the Colts destroyed the Jaguars 44-17. It was an ugly, lop-sided butt-kicking for Jacksonville, just like the week before when the Jaguars were blown out by the Redskins 41-10. It looks like Jacksonville is destined for another top-5 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 Blake 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.

Within Striking Distance:
Tampa Bay 1-5
Washington 1-5
New York Jets 1-5
St. Louis 1-3

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.

Chicago Bears: Shawn Oakman, DE, Baylor
The Bears’ pass rush came alive to help slam the door on the Falcons, and there was a Jared Allen sighting as he recorded a sack for Chicago. Perhaps Allen can finish the year strong for the Bears, but in the offseason, they clearly need to add some young pass-rushers to go with ends Willie Young and Lamarr Houston. Chicago General Manager Phil Emery likes players with a combination of size, speed and position flexibility. Oakman fits all of the criteria.

In 2014, Oakman has been excellent for Baylor as he’s totaled five sacks, 24 tackles, eight tackles for a loss, a forced fumble and a pass batted. The 6-foot-9, 280-pounder is extremely big with unusual speed and athleticism for such a big defensive lineman. He can line up as a tackle or end, but also has stood up as an outside linebacker for Baylor this season. Oakman looks like a great fit for Emery and Chicago.

New England Patriots: Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin
The Patriots were able to put up 37 points on the Bills, but New England was led on the ground with pathetic total of 23 yards on 10 carries by Stevan Ridley. As Tom Brady ages, it would make sense his franchise to make a concerted effort to turn the ground game into a force. That worked for Denver at the end of John Elway’s career, and adding a runner like Melvin Gordon could be a game-changer for the Patriots.

Halfway through the season, Gordon has become the first back in the nation to cross the 1,000-yard mark. He’s averaged 7.9 yards per carry for 1,046 yards and nine touchdowns in only six games. The 6-foot-1, 207-pound Gordon could be the fastest back to enter the NFL since Chris Johnson in the 2008 NFL Draft. With his dominant junior season, Gordon is proving that he is worthy of going in the first round, and he would be a great pick for the Patriots.

Detroit Lions: La’el Collins, OT, LSU
The Lions allowed four sacks to the Vikings, plus couldn’t get the ground game established. Detroit could use more punch on the offensive line. In the offseason, the Lions could consider upgrading left guard and/or right tackle to help improve the line. Collins would be a perfect selection as he could play either position or left tackle if the organization feels that would make the line better with a move of Riley Reiff to the right side.

Collins is a powerful run-blocker who gets movement at the point of attack. He spent 2013 as a dependable blind-side protector for Zach Mettenberger, and that has continued during 2014 for LSU’s quarterbacks. With his power and athleticism, Collins could start at four spots in the NFL. Taking him in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft would make sense for Detroit.

Denver Broncos: Denzel Perryman, ILB, Miami
The Broncos have had issues at middle linebacker this season with Nate Irving and could use an upgrade. On Sunday, tight end Jace Amaro (10-68) gave the Broncos some issues, so finding a three-down linebacker who can defend tight ends and stuff the run would be an upgrade for the franchise’s defense.

Perryman is that kind of player: He is a physical force in the tackle box who has also shown the quickness and instincts to function in pass coverage. The tough senior could help cover tight ends in the NFL with his three-down ability. In 2014, he has 51 tackles with four tackles for a loss, one forced fumble, one sack, two passes broken up and an interception. Perryman could bring a physical element to the Broncos’ defense.

Tennessee Titans: Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, S, Oregon
The Titans held on for a win over the Jaguars, but Blake Bortles threw for 336 yards on their secondary and Cecil Shorts went over 100 yards receiving. If it weren’t for Jacksonville’s terrible offensive line, Bortles could have thrown for more. Tennessee was considering drafting Justin Gilbert and Kyle Fuller last year, so upgrading the team’s cornerbacks is on the mind of management.

Ekpre-Olomu has been enjoying an excellent season. He’s been a reliable cover corner who has shown a real skill to run with wideouts and prevent separation. Ekpre-Olomu has two interceptions, three passes broken up and 20 tackles so far in 2014. He isn’t a big corner, but he has a superb ability of running with receivers to keep them from getting open.

Green Bay Packers: Cedric Ogbuehi, OT, Texas A&M
The Packers need tackle help, and Cameron Wake gave convincing evidence of that on Sunday. Injuries have ravaged Green Bay’s tackles, and the organization could use a player who is reliable. Ogbuehi has been a mainstay in the Aggies’ lineup the past three years at guard, right tackle and left tackle. That flexibility would help the Packers if injuries strike their line again.

Green Bay probably would have to trade up for Ogbuehi as he is projected to go in the top 20 of the 2015 NFL Draft, and the Packers should end up picking in the 20s. However, if Ogbuehi falls into the teens, it could be worth it for Green Bay to make a move for him to get a reliable protector for Aaron Rodgers.

Indianapolis Colts: Danny Shelton, DT, Washington
The Colts allowed Arian Foster to rack some good yards on them despite selling out to stop the run and force the Texans to beat them through the air with quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. Indianapolis could stand to improve its defensive line to make more stout at the point of attack. If the team selected a heavy nose tackle like Shelton, Josh Chapman could move over to defensive end. That would make the Colts bigger and more physical at the point of attack.

The 6-foot-2, 340-pound Shelton is a load at the point of attack. He is tough to move in the ground game as he stuffs a lot of running lanes. Shelton has also demonstrated a real ability to collapse the pocket and get to the quarterback. The senior has seven sacks, 9.5 tackles for a loss, 49 tackles and two fumble recoveries in 2014.

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.

Baltimore Ravens:
Even though Baltimore scored five touchdowns in the first 16 minutes against Tampa Bay, upgrading the offensive talent is necessary next offseason. The Ravens have to build up the offense around Joe Flacco so they can consistently put up good point totals. The team has a lot of needs on that side of the ball to give Flacco the supporting cast that he deserves.

Chiefly among the needs are play-makers. Baltimore has to find a featured running back to replace Ray Rice. General manager Ozzie Newsome loves Alabama players, and he could scratch his itch with running back T.J. Yeldon. Yeldon could be a first- or second-round pick for Baltimore. However, the wide receiver position looks to be a bigger need and quality running backs can be found on Day 2. If Yeldon isn’t available, other good targets to consider would be South Carolina’s Mike Davis, Nebraska’s Ameer Abdullah, USC’s Buck Allen or Miami’s Duke Johnson.

The Ravens have to consider a wide receiver in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft. Steve Smith has given Baltimore some production, but he’s nearing the end of his great career. The organization certainly won’t be picking high enough to land Alabama wide receiver Amari Cooper and would have to do a big trade up to land him. As a consolation prize, the Ravens could still land upgrades in Arizona State’s Jaelen Strong or Stanford’s Ty Montgomery.

Baltimore needs to improve its offensive line, and upgrading right tackle has to be considered. There could be some quality tackles on the second day of the 2015 NFL Draft who could come and compete for the Ravens. Florida State’s Cameron Erving, South Carolina’s Corey Robinson and Syracuse’s Sean Hickey would be players to consider on Day 2.

On the defensive side, a young pass-rusher to replace Terrell Suggs or Elvis Dumervil has to be considered – even as early as the first round if a good one falls to Baltimore. In the short term, the offensive needs are more critical, but the Ravens always take a wise long-term approach to drafting.

After a rebuilding year following their Super Bowl championship, the Ravens are building a team to compete in January again year after year. Baltimore has a defense that is ready to play, but the franchise could use more weapons on offense in order to be ready for a postseason run.

Chicago Bears:
For years under former head coach Lovie Smith, the Bears were consistently let down by an ineffective offense that wasn’t good enough to take advantage of an excellent defense. That defense got old, and Chicago has gradually moved on from the players who made that unit great while building up the offense into one of the most dangerous scoring attacks in the NFL. Now, the pressure is on general manager Phil Emery to execute a quick turnaround for the defense to build a balanced team capable of competing for a Super Bowl. The Bears’ defense is the primary reason they have been mediocre in 2014.

Chicago’s defensive needs start up front. The team has some quality defensive ends in Lamarr Houston and Willie Young, but Jared Allen is clearly declining and isn’t the dangerous pass-rusher the organization needs. In the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft, Baylor’s Shawn Oakman or Florida’s Dante Fowler would be options for the Bears. Either Oakman or Fowler could fit in Mel Tucker’s defense and give Chicago a lead pass-rusher.

The Bears could also consider linebacker help. They need Jon Bostic to play consistent football, but they’ll also need help next to him with a player to replace aging veteran Lance Briggs. Some early-round players to consider would be UCLA’s Erik Kendricks and Washington’s Shaq Thompson. Landing Thompson in the second round of the 2015 NFL Draft would be a nice value for Chicago.

In the secondary, Emery made an excellent pick in cornerback Kyle Fuller last year. However, the Bears could use more help at corner and safety. Taking another corner or a safety in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft would make sense if one of those is the best player available. In the first round, Washington’s Marcus Peters or Michigan State’s Trae Waynes would be good fits at corner. Alabama’s Landon Collins could be considered at safety.

Offensively, the Bears are set, but for the long term, they could consider taking a running back to eventually replace Matt Forte. The veteran is still playing at a high level, but he won’t last forever. That need could be addressed in the mid-rounds after Chicago infuses some talent into the defense.

In the NFL, it’s easier to generate a quick turnaround for a defense rather than an offense. The Bears has an offense that’s ready to take them deep into the postseason if they can add a good draft class and some free agent additions to the defense. Chicago fans have to hope that the clock won’t run out on the organization’s offense while they’re waiting for the defense to come around.

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