Monday Morning Draft – Week 10

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 were rolled at home by Denver and are in serious danger of going 0-16. Remaining on Oakland’s schedule are games with Denver, San Diego, San Francisco, Kansas City (twice) and Buffalo at home. That is a tough slate for the Raiders to find a win in against all of those playoff contenders.

Oakland is very likely to land the first pick of the 2015 NFL Draft. If the Raiders want to stick with Derek Carr, they could look to move down and get a boatload of picks to jump start the rebuilding process. After moving down, Oakland could land any top player who would be a big improvement. Candidates for the organization include USC defensive lineman Leonard Williams, Nebraska defensive end Randy Gregory, Stanford left tackle Andrus Peat, Georgia running back Todd Gurley and Alabama wide receiver Amari Cooper. The Raiders have needs at all of those positions, so moving down to get more picks while landing a top talent like one of those players would be a good plan.

A few weeks ago, Oakland played San Diego tough with a 31-28 loss in Tony Sparano’s first game as the Raiders’ interim head coach. They 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.

Within Striking Distance:
Jacksonville Jaguars 1-9
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 1-8

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.

Kansas City Chiefs: DeVante Parker, WR, Louisville
The Chiefs got a good game out of Dwayne Bowe, but their other wide receivers combined for only two receptions for 23 yards against Buffalo. That has to drive Andy Reid crazy, and the lack of play-makers at wide receiver has hurt Kansas City all season. Taking one in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft makes a lot of sense.

Even after losing Teddy Bridgewater to the NFL, Parker has continued to be extremely productive for the Cardinals. In only three games, he has 25 receptions for 490 yards with one touchdown. Parker had a massive performance against Florida State (8-214), and the 6-foot-3, 208-pounder is a size-mismatch weapon. Kansas City could target Parker in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft.

Seattle Seahawks: Jaelen Strong, WR, Arizona State
The Seahawks won with Marshawn Lynch running for four touchdowns and Russell Wilson throwing only 17 passes. Clearly, Seattle needs more receiver help. The team has moved on from Percy Harvin and adding a big wideout could be a help for Wilson. Strong is said to be a hard worker and good teammate. The Seahawks could use a receiver with those characteristics.

The 6-foot-3, 212-pound Strong has enough quickness to get separation while also having the strength and size to outfight defensive backs for the ball. The junior has 62 receptions for 879 yards with nine touchdowns. He has proven to be a great red-zone threat as he has scored in seven of nine games this year. The only time Strong has been held under 50 yards receiving came against New Mexico when Arizona State blew out the Lobos in Week 2. Late in the first round, Strong could be a difference-maker for Seattle.

Arizona Cardinals: Garrett Grayson, QB, Colorado State
Just days after signing Carson Palmer to an extension, the Cardinals fear they’ve lost him for the year with a torn ACL. It isn’t the first ACL tear for Palmer, and the veteran has been brittle in his career. Arizona should plan for his eventual replacement and draft a quarterback in the early rounds. Taking one on Day 2 of the 2015 NFL Draft to groom behind Palmer and play if he gets injured again makes a lot of sense.

Grayson (6-2, 220) has a strong arm, athleticism and pocket-passing skills. He would be a good fit in Bruce Arians’ offense. As a senior, Grayson has completed 65 percent of his passes for 3,024 yards with 26 touchdowns and five interceptions. In his past five games, he has thrown 13 touchdowns and zero picks. Grayson has carried Colorado State to a 9-1 record and has shown an ability to make plays in the clutch. Taking him in the second round could be an astute pick by Arizona.

New York Jets: Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama
The Jets got a win over the Steelers, but unfortunately for New York, it could make the Jets chances of landing a franchise quarterback in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft more difficult. If the quarterbacks are already off the board to teams like the Titans, Buccaneers, or Rams, the Jets could target a No. 1 receiver to finish off their receiving corps. Eric Decker is a No. 2, while Percy Harvin is a slot weapon. A true No. 1 would make a lot of sense for New York.

Cooper has been phenomenal in 2014 and really has carried Alabama. He is too fast for cornerbacks to cover while having the strength and fight to win contested catches. In 2014, Cooper has 79 receptions for 1,215 yards with 10 touchdowns. The 6-foot-1, 210-pounder could combine with Decker and Harvin to form a dangerous aerial attack.

San Francisco 49ers: Ameer Abdullah, RB, Nebraska
Another running back? San Francisco has drafted a lot of runners over the past five years, but Kendall Hunter, LaMichael James and Marcus Lattimore haven’t worked out for San Francisco. Frank Gore isn’t a long-term piece of the puzzle, while Carlos Hyde could use a complement. A speed back who can function in the passing game would make sense.

Abdullah is the most productive back in Nebraska history, and that is saying something considering the players who have come through the program. In 2014, he’s averaged 6.7 yards per carry for 1,250 yards with 17 touchdowns. Abdullah has 13 receptions for 169 yards and two touchdowns, too. He would be a perfect change-of-pace back to pair with Hyde.

Atlanta Falcons: Dante Fowler Jr, OLB, Florida
Throughout the 2014 season, the lack of pass rush has been apparent for the Falcons. Atlanta did better on Sunday with Kroy Biermann recording 1.5 sacks, but that was a fluke, and Atlanta needs a true edge rusher. The Falcons haven’t found a true replacement for John Abraham, which has been a serious weakness the past two seasons.

The Falcons have switched to a 3-4 defense, and Fowler has excellent in that scheme as an outside linebacker. He has 43 tackles with eight tackles for a loss, 3.5 sacks and two forced fumbles this season. Fowler is a fast and physical edge defender who causes a lot of havoc behind the line of scrimmage – more than his stats indicate. If Atlanta wins more games in the second half of the season, Fowler could be a nice fit in the mid-rounds of the 2015 NFL Draft.

Baltimore Ravens: Kevin White, WR, West Virginia
The Ravens got a nice game from Torrey Smith, but the other two receivers only totaled five receptions for 35 yards. Clearly, Baltimore has to get more passing weapons for Joe Flacco. A receiver with some size who can make plays downfield would be a perfect fit for the Ravens.

White would definitely fit that description. The 6-foot-3, 210-pounder can make plays deep downfield as well as serving as a possession receiver. In 2014, he has 91 receptions for 1,207 yards and eight touchdowns. The Ravens would be fortunate to land him in the middle of the first round 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.

Denver Broncos:
As one can expect, the defending AFC champs have a talented roster, and John Elway has done a tremendous job of building Denver into a championship-caliber team in less than four years. The Broncos don’t have a lot of needs, so they are in the wonderful position of being able to take the best player available regardless of position in the majority of the draft class.

A real need in the front seven is for an upgrade at middle linebacker. In the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft, Miami’s Denzel Perryman would be ideal. He has the ability to drop into pass coverage and also serve as a thumper in the ground game.

The Broncos could draft a young understudy to DeMarcus Ware. It would make a lot of sense to take one in the first round. Denver plays with the lead so often, they need to rotate pass-rushers to keep them fresh and effective. There could be a few first-round prospects to consider in Missouri’s Markus Golden or Virginia’s Eli Harold. On the second day of the 2015 NFL Draft, Kentucky’s Bud Dupree could be a nice fit for John Fox and Jack Del Rio’s defense.

One position area that would make sense for the Broncos to supplement would be the offensive line. They could lose right tackle Chris Clark or guard Orlando Franklin in free agency, which would create needs if they aren’t re-signed. Considering how dependent Denver is on Peyton Manning staying healthy, even if those players are re-signed it, would make sense to have depth to withstand injuries. An interior lineman who would be a good fit is Alabama guard Arie Kouandjio. He has a lot of upside to develop. A first-round tackle to consider would be Texas A&M’s Cedric Ogbuehi. Denver could play him at right tackle where he played better than on the left side.

The Broncos will probably fill some needs in free agency, and if they do that, they can start going with the best player available sooner. That will build up the depth on the Denver roster and help the franchise to stay competitive when it eventually has to go with a new quarterback.

Dallas Cowboys:
The Cowboys needed a win, so playing Jacksonville was the perfect tonic. Dallas defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli has to be one of the top coordinators in the NFL this season for fielding a serviceable defense with not a lot of talent to work with. In the 2015 offseason, the Cowboys have the obvious task of giving Marinelli more talent to work with.

It all starts up front, and Dallas needs to add talent to its defensive line. On the inside of the line, the team really doesn’t have any difference-makers or building blocks. The Cowboys have passed on some quality three-technique prospects over the past two drafts, and that position is the engine of Marinelli’s version of the Tampa 2. The 2015 NFL Draft class doesn’t look as strong at tackle as the past few years, but on Day 2, the Dallas could land nice fits in Texas’ Malcom Brown or Ohio State’s Michael Bennett. In the first round, Washington nose tackle Danny Shelton could get consideration as he has shown some real pass-rushing skill for a heavy tackle. Shelton would provide Dallas the bonus of scheme versatility as he could also play the nose in a 3-4. Shelton is more of a fit for Jerry Jones’ draft strategy than Marinelli, so it is hard to say how much Dallas would be interested in him.

At defensive end, Jeremy Mincey and Georve Selvie aren’t long-term answers, but Marinelli is getting some production out of them. The Cowboys hope that 2014 second-rounder Demarcus Lawrence will develop into an impact edge defender, but they will need another player on the other side and could use a lead player at that. Florida defensive end/outside linebacker Dante Fowler, Missouri defensive end Markus Golden or Virginia defensive end Eli Harold could be good fits for Marinelli in the back half of the first round.

The Cowboys linebackers have been a bright spot this year, but looking at corner and safety could get some consideration on Day 2 if a great value is available.

The other route that Dallas could go is quarterback. I think the Cowboys were wise to pass on Johnny Manziel, and Zack Martin has played well for Dallas as a rookie. Given that the team will be picking in the back half of the first round, there won’t be a quarterback prospect worthy of that selection. On the second day of the 2015 NFL Draft, the Cowboys could consider a developmental project to back up Romo for a year or two before taking over. Colorado State’s Garrett Grayson would be a nice fit for the Dallas offense.

The Cowboys need to get some more impact players on their defense to take advantage of the Super Bowl window that their offense is providing. Upgrading the defense could make the difference for Dallas to make a run in January.

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