Monday Morning Draft – Week 7

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:
Oakland hung with Arizona, but doesn’t have the talent to pull out wins against a good team like the Cardinals. A week ago 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 it 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 and want to stick with Derek Carr, they could look to move down and get a boatload of picks to jump start their rebuilding process.

Within Striking Distance:
Jacksonville Jaguars 1-6
New York Jets 1-6
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 1-5

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.

Miami Dolphins: Mike Davis, RB, South Carolina
The Dolphins dropped Chicago on the road as they got a nice performance by Ryan Tannehill, but against the Bears’ weak defense, Lamar Miller (18-61) was bottled up. Miami could use a running back to lead its offense and take the pressure off of Tannehill.

Davis is a hard-nosed physical runner who picks up yards after contact. He powers through tackles routinely to go along with quickness, balance and versatility. In 2014, Davis has averaged 5.5 yards per carry for 662 yards with eight touchdowns. He has 15 receptions for 138 yards. Davis’ receiving ability would be helpful for Tannehill as an outlet from of the backfield. If Miami could land Davis in the second round of the 2015 NFL Draft, that would be huge.

New England Patriots: Danny Shelton, DT, Washington
The Patriots allowed over 200 yards rushing to the Jets on Thursday night. Clearly New England was missing Jerod Mayo, but the Patriots could use a young understudy to Vince Wilfork. Shelton would be a great fit in the middle of New England’s defense to play the nose tackle role. Before Wilfork is done, Shelton could play next to him and eventually take over when the veteran retires.

In 2014, Shelton has 7.5 sacks, 49 tackles, 9.5 tackles for a loss and two fumble recoveries. He is a power player at the point of attack who is tough to move at the line of scrimmage. With his burst, Shelton has shown surprising pass-rushing skills in 2014. The senior could make sense for New England late in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft.

Buffalo Bills: Dak Prescott, QB, Mississippi State
The Bills blew a pick on E.J. Manuel, so they will have to keep drafting quarterbacks until they land a starter. Without a first-round pick in 2015, Buffalo is lacking one avenue to land an impact starter. Thus, the organization should target a high-upside player on the second day of the 2015 NFL Draft. If Prescott enters the 2015 NFL Draft, he could be that player.

In 2014, Prescott has really showed an improved ability to pass from the pocket. He has flashed accuracy and field vision. The junior also has been a threat on the ground to run over defenses and produce points with his feet. Prescott’s completed 62 percent of his passes for 1,478 yards and 14 touchdowns with four interceptions. On the ground, he has 576 yards with eight touchdowns. Prescott could end up being a steal in the second round.

Baltimore Ravens: Kevin White, WR, West Virginia
The Ravens continue to get stronger, and Torrey Smith has put back-to-back games together to emerge from an early season slump. Steve Smith isn’t a long-term starter, and Baltimore could use another play-maker for Joe Flacco to work with. A big receiver who can get downfield would be a nice weapon to pair with Flacco’s big arm.

In 2014, White has been one of the best receivers in college football. He has 69 receptions for 1,020 yards and seven touchdowns. White (6-3, 210) showed a unique combination of size and speed with the skills to get separation and made contested catches. White can make athletic plays downfield and is a threat in the short or deep portion of the field.

Washington Redskins: Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, S, Oregon
The Redskins were fortunate to be playing against Charlie Whitehurst. If Jake Locker was healthy, the Titans easily could have won the game. Washington has a number of needs to address, so perhaps the franchise could trade down from the top 10 and land Ekpre-Olomu in the middle of the first round.

Ekpre-Olomu has been enjoying an excellent season. He’s been a reliable cover corner who has shown a real skill to run with wide outs and prevent separation. In 2014, the senior has two interceptions, five passes broken up and 34 tackles. Ekpre-Olomu isn’t a big corner, but he has a superb ability to run with receivers to keep them from getting open.

Green Bay Packers: Shaq Thompson, OLB, Washington
Even though Green Bay handled Carolina, the Packers continue to struggle with receiving tight ends; Greg Olsen (8-105) hurt them. Green Bay could use an athletic linebacker who is capable of covering tight ends and backs out of the backfield. The Packers also need a speedy sideline-to-sideline run-defender to replace A.J. Hawk. Thompson has the ability to do both.

Thompson is an instinctive defender who covers a lot of ground. He is so fast and athletic, he has been used as a running back at times. In 2014, Thompson has 46 tackles with three passes broken up, one interception, three forced fumbles and three fumble returns for touchdowns. He would be a great fit in Green Bay.

Jacksonville Jaguars: Randy Gregory, DE, Nebraska
The Jaguars got their first win of the season and held the Browns to only six points despite three interceptions from Blake Bortles. Jacksonville picked up three sacks, but one came from veteran linebacker Paul Posluszny and another was from aging veteran Chris Clemons. The Jaguars could use a long-term defensive building block and a LEO linebacker. Gregory could execute that role well.

Gregory is a dynamic edge rusher with great agility and athleticism. He is extremely fast with a repertoire of moves. The Cornhuskers’ star defender is strong for his size, and his bull rush often catches offensive tackles by surprise. In 2014, Gregory has 28 tackles with five tackles for a loss, 4.5 sacks, one forced fumble, two passes broken up and one interception. He would make a lot of sense for the Jaguars in the top 10 of the 2015 NFL Draft.

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.

St. Louis Rams:
It feels weird projecting the Rams with only one first-round pick. St. Louis did a nice job of building up its roster with talent via the haul from the Redskins in the Robert Griffin III trade and other deals to move down like the one with the Dallas Cowboys. The Rams have a lot of talent on their roster, and if they can get good production out of the quarterback position, the Rams could be a playoff team.

In the 2010 NFL Draft, former Rams general manager Billy Devaney passed up Ndamukong Suh and Gerald McCoy for Sam Bradford. That is an example of reaching coming back to hurt a team as Bradford hasn’t lived up to the No. 1 pick because of a lack of durability. He had injury issues in college, but they were ignored by Devaney. St. Louis would be wise to keep this in mind when it comes to taking the team’s next quarterback. Austin Davis has played well, but he looks more like an excellent backup rather than a long-term starter.

In the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft, the Rams could target a signal-caller like Oregon’s Marcus Mariota or Florida State’s Jameis Winston. The former needs more work to be groomed as a pocket passer, while Winston is a stud quarterback who has off-the-field issues. St. Louis has taken chances on players with character issues in recent drafts, including Janoris Jenkins and Alec Ogletree. Winston would be a game changer for the Rams, and they should consider trading up for him if they believe that his off-the-field issues will become a thing of the past.

If St. Louis misses out on those two quarterbacks, the organization could consider Michigan State’s Connor Cook or Mississippi State’s Dak Prescott if either, or both, grades out as a first-rounder and enter the 2015 NFL Draft. Other options for the second day of the 2015 NFL Draft include Oregon State’s Sean Mannion, Colorado State’s Garrett Grayson, UCLA’s Brett Hundley and Ole Miss’ Bo Wallace.

After quarterback, the Rams could consider some help at guard on the second day of the 2015 NFL Draft. Greg Robinson will take over for Jake Long as the long-term left tackle, which will open up a spot at guard. St. Louis could use a left guard to finish off its offensive line. There should be plenty to consider on Day 2, including South Carolina’s A.J. Cann, Alabama’s Arie Kouandjio, Duke’s Laken Tomlinson and Florida State’s Josue Matias.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Rams could consider some safety help. St. Louis could use a competitor for T.J. McDonald. If the team misses out on a quarterback in the first round, Alabama’s Landon Collins could be a good fit. On the second day of the 2015 NFL Draft, the Rams could land a player from a group of West Virginia’s Karl Joseph, Ole Miss’ Cody Prewitt, or Fresno State’s Derron Smith.

Another position St. Louis could consider would be wide receiver. Brian Quick has developed well this season and Tavon Austin has play-making potential, but the organization could consider another receiver if there is a good one available.

The Rams have a talented roster that is ready to compete, but they have to get a quarterback who can go head-to-head with Colin Kaepernick and Russell Wilson. It could be time for St. Louis to give up picks to land the quarterback who could push the franchise over the top.

Oakland Raiders:
With the exception of maybe the Jaguars, there may not be a team that has more needs on their roster than the Raiders. Fortunately, Oakland will have plenty of free agency dollars to spend and high draft picks to help fill those needs. How the organization restocks its roster will depend on the systems of the team’s next head coach, and possibly a new general manager if Reggie McKenzie joins Dennis Allen as a victim of an impossible rebuilding situation.

The first decision of the next coaching staff is if Derek Carr is the future starter at quarterback. The next head coach would be wise to retain offensive coordinator Greg Olson. He has worked wonders with quarterbacks and giving Derek Carr some continuity could make a huge difference in his development. Mark Davis loves Carr and pushed for him on draft day last year, so Davis would probably need some convincing to have the Raiders take a quarterback in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft with the way Carr is improving.

Chief among the needs is at least one difference-maker on the defensive side of the ball. One mistake that McKenzie made was the selection of D.J. Hayden in the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft. McKenzie passed on Star Lotulelei, Sheldon Richardson and Sharrif Floyd for Hayden. Any of those defensive tackles would have been huge for Oakland. Hayden entered the league with injury concerns and hasn’t validated his draft pick while dealing with a series of injuries. Oakland has remained very weak in the middle of its line.

Not only are the Raiders are very weak at defensive tackle, they need more edge rushers. USC defensive lineman Leonard Williams could be a solution. If Oakland switches to a 3-4 defense, Williams could play end. In a 4-3 scheme, he could play end on run downs and move inside in passing situations. Williams would make a lot of sense for the Raiders.

If Williams is gone, or if Oakland wants a pure pass-rusher, Nebraska defensive end Randy Gregory could form a great duo with 2014 first-rounder Khalil Mack. The Raiders also need help at cornerback and safety. Carlos Rogers, Tarell Brown, and Charles Woodson aren’t long-term starters. The organization would get better value by waiting until the second day to draft some corners and a safety.

Oakland has to get some difference-makers at the skill positions to help Carr – assuming he remains the starter. Sammy Watkins was a finalist for the Raiders’ pick last May as they lack a No. 1 receiver. Andre Holmes has flashed potential to develop into a No. 2 or No. 3 receiver, but if Alabama’s Amari Cooper is the best available player, it would make sense for the Raiders to take him. Oakland also needs a long-term left tackle as Donald Penn is just a short-term player. Thus, Stanford’s Andrus Peat could be the pick.

The Raiders also needs a starting running back as Darren McFadden and Maurice Jones-Drew are about to hit free agency. Some second-day running backs like South Carolina’s Mike Davis, Alabama’s T.J. Yeldon and Nebraska’s Ameer Abdullah could be fits.

Oakland has a ton of needs to fill and a wide variety of places to go with its first-round pick. However once Peyton Manning is done in Denver, the AFC West could be wide open for the Raiders to return to prominence if Carr pans out and gives them the only talented young quarterback in the division.

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