Monday Morning Draft – Week 12

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:

Jacksonville Jaguars:
The Jaguars were beaten by 20 even though the Colts didn’t play their best football. Jacksonville has fallen to 1-10 on the season, and one would think the team would be more competitive at this point in the regime of general manager David Caldwell and head coach Gus Bradley. With the Raiders winning on Thursday night, the Jaguars could land the No. 1 overall pick if they lose out the remainder of the season.

If Jacksonville lands the first-overall pick, the organization would look to trade down with a quarterback-needy team. The Jaguars are committed to Blake Bortles and have a ton of holes on their roster around him. Loading up on draft picks to fill some of those needs would be wise.

If the Jaguars are stuck with the pick, they could consider USC defensive lineman Leonard Williams or Nebraska defensive end/outside linebacker Randy Gregory. Jacksonville needs a defensive franchise player. If the organization are successful in trading down, it could target offensive line help, a cornerback, or really just take the best player available. On a weekly basis, the Jaguars have a big talent gap no matter who their opponent is.

Oakland Raiders:
The Raiders avoided the 0-16 season with a surprising win over the Chiefs on Thursday Night Football. Oakland has a tough schedule, so it looks unlikely that the team will win another game, but at least the Raiders avoided the notorious history of a winless season.

Oakland is still a favorite 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 jumpstart 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:
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2-9
Tennessee Titans 2-9
New York Jets 2-8

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.

Indianapolis Colts: Markus Golden, DE/OLB, Missouri
The Colts totaled three sacks against the Jaguars, but those all came from their inside linebackers and LaRon Landry. Indianapolis has missed Robert Mathis this season and could use an edge rusher to pair with Bjoern Werner. Taking a pass-rusher with their first-round pick makes a lot of sense for the Colts.

Golden started out the season red hot before injuries slowed him down. Lately, he has gotten healthy, plus his production has heated up as he has four sacks in the last two games. In 2014, Golden has 8.5 sacks, 14 tackles for a loss, 59 tackles, two passes broken up and a forced fumble. While Golden is a speed rusher, he has some strength and could hold up in run defense as a 3-4 outside linebacker.

Philadelphia Eagles: Gerod Holliman, S, Louisville
Philadelphia cruised over Tennessee, but once again, the Eagles illustrated that their lack of talent at safety is a glaring weakness. Titans tight end Delanie Walker burned the Philadelphia to the tune of five receptions for 155 yards. The Eagles have been weak at safety for a few years, so grabbing an upgrade has to be a priority.

It would make sense for the team to get a safety capable of playing pass coverage. Philadelphia doesn’t need as much of a in-the-box type strong safety. Thus, Holliman would be a great fit. This season, he leads the nation in interceptions with 13. Holliman also has 32 tackles, a forced fumble and three passes broken up. He could be a real upgrade with the Eagles’ first-round pick.

Green Bay Packers: Denzel Perryman, ILB, Miami
Green Bay’s defense has played much better in recent weeks and could be poised to peak at the right time. What the Packers need in 2015 is a middle linebacker. A.J. Hawk is slow and declining. It hurts the team’s pass rush to have to play Clay Matthews on the inside, and Julius Peppers won’t play forever. Adding a middle linebacker talent would allow Matthews to move back outside and improve the defense at a few spots.

Perryman would be a great fit for Green Bay. He is a physical tackler who functions well in pass coverage while being an excellent run-defender. In 2014, Perryman has 96 tackles with seven tackles for a loss, three forced fumbles, four passes batted and an interception. The senior is an intimidating presence in the middle of the field and could be a great fit in Dom Capers’ defense. Late in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft, Perryman could be an impact draft pick.

Chicago Bears: Ronald Darby, CB, Florida State
The Bears took advantage of some Bucs turnovers to win on Sunday, but Chicago’s secondary had some struggles with Tampa Bay’s receivers. Vincent Jackson (5-117), Louis Murphy (6-113) and Mike Evans (3-47) made some big plays against the Chicago defensive backs. The Bears need more cornerback talent to pair with Kyle Fuller. Some cover corners would also help the improve the team’s pass rush by forcing quarterbacks to hold the ball longer.

In 2014, Darby has 31 tackles with four passes broken up. The 5-foot-11, 195-pounder has impressed sources with his ability to cover receivers and prevent separation. If the Bears could land Darby in Round 2 or trade up from their second-round pick, that could be a nice move to give Chicago two young cornerbacks.

New England Patriots: Tevin Coleman, RB, Indiana
The Patriots were fortunate to have LeGarrette Blount fall back in their laps to help invigorate their ground game heading into the postseason. However, New England let Blount leave in free agency last offseason and didn’t think enough of him to make him the team’s feature back. Steven Ridley is out for the year with a knee injury and is heading into free agency. Taking a running back in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft makes sense, especially to help take the pressure off Tom Brady.

In 2014, Coleman is averaging 7.9 yards per carry for 1,906 yards with 15 touchdowns. He also has 23 receptions for 135 yards. The 6-foot-1, 210-pound Coleman has excellent speed to go along with being put together well. There is buzz that Coleman could break into the first round, and his dominant form to close out the season will help his cause.

Cleveland Browns: DeVante Parker, WR, Louisville
What a difference Josh Gordon makes. In his first game action of the year, Gordon ripped off 120 yards on eight receptions. That helped open things up for Andrew Hawkins and Miles Austin. Cleveland has to add another receiver to its offense in order to help sustain the passing attack in case Gordon lands another suspension.

Parker would be a nice fit for the Browns. The 6-foot-3, 208-pounder could work the short to intermediate part of the field with Gordon challenging defenses over the top. With double coverage going to Gordon, Parker could carve teams up underneath. In his four games this season, Parker has 29 receptions for 555 yards and a touchdown. Using one of their first-round picks on Parker would make sense for the Browns to upgrade their offense.

Oakland Raiders: Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama
The Raiders could still land the first-overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, and if they dom trading down is the priority. Getting weapons for Derek Carr and difference-makers on defense is critical. If Oakland does trade down, the organization could easily miss out on Leonard Williams and Randy Gregory. If that happens, getting Carr a No. 1 receiver would be a good plan. The Raiders’ offense needs to add more play-makers and some explosion at receiver. Cooper would certainly provide that.

Cooper looks like a future difference-maker and a No. 1 receiver for the NFL. He has the speed to take short receptions the distance and also uses his size well enough to out battle receivers for the ball. In 2014, Cooper has caught 90 passes for 1,349 yards with 11 touchdowns. The 6-foot-1, 210-pounder would be an immediate upgrade for Oakland’s offense.

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.

Tennessee Titans:
It looks clear that there is going to be some significant turnover at Tennessee this offseason. New head coach Ken Whisenhunt and defensive coordinator Ray Horton are going to want to remake the roster to find players who can execute their schemes. Each side of the ball could use a featured player to lead the respective units. The franchise is poised to move on from Jake Locker, so deciding what to do at quarterback is priority No. 1.

The Titans have the final five games to try and figure out whether Zach Mettenberger is the answer. He had a solid stat line against Philadelphia on Sunday, but Tennessee needs to see Mettenberger string some good games together. If that doesn’t happen, the organization can’t turn down a potential franchise quarterback in Oregon’s Marcus Mariota or Florida State’s Jameis Winston. knows that Mariota has already impressed the Tennessee brass, and those decision-makers have concerns about Winston’s character. The Titans may have to move up in the 2015 NFL Draft to land their quarterback, and Mariota could be their guy.

The rest of the Tennessee offense has some talent that could grow together with young offensive linemen, talented young receivers and a young running back in Bishop Sankey. The quarterback position is the one thing holding the Titans back on offense.

Defensively, the Titans could target a pass-rusher if they are unable or choose not to take a quarterback in the first round. Perfect fits for Horton’s defense on the edge would be Nebraska’s Randy Gregory or Missouri’s Shane Ray. Tennessee could use a speed rusher off the edge.

Elsewhere on defense, some help in the secondary with corner and safety competition make sense. Especially the latter as the Titans have older safeties in Bernard Pollard and Michael Griffin.

Even though the Titans have only two wins on the season, they aren’t that far from being competitive again. Early in the season, Tennessee lost a few winnable games because of the inept Charlie Whitehurst. Getting a difference-maker at quarterback could completely turn things around for this franchise.

Minnesota Vikings:
Minnesota has looked improved and have played some tough football under new head coach Mike Zimmer. The Vikings have a roster with talent as they have drafted seven players in the first round of the past three NFL drafts. There are a few need issues for the organization to address in order to close the gap with the top teams in the NFC North.

Offensive coordinator Norv Turner and quarterback Teddy Bridgewater need more talent to work with. The Vikings lost Adrian Peterson to off-the-field issues, and his future remains murky. Regardless of what happens, Peterson is aging. Jerick McKinnon looks like he could be a solid rotational back, but not a lead runner. Minnesota could address the running back position in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft with an impact runner like Georgia’s Todd Gurley or Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon. A feature back could make Bridgewater’s job a lot easier. If the Vikings wait to the second day of the 2015 NFL Draft, there could be some good options with Miami’s Duke Johnson, Indiana’s Tevin Coleman, South Carolina’s Mike Davis, Boise State’s Jay Ajayi or USC’s Buck Allen.

Waiting to the second day of the 2015 NFL Draft could allow the Vikings to take a No. 1 receiver for Bridgewater. A talent like Alabama’s Amari Cooper, Louisville’s DeVante Parker or West Virginia’s Kevin White could be an excellent choice to pair with Cordarrelle Patterson. Patterson is a play-making weapon, but not really a polished receiver. Minnesota could use that kind of wideout for Bridgewater.

Also on offense, Minnesota should add some competition and depth to the offensive line. Matt Kalil is having a nightmare season at left tackle. The Vikings should bring in another option in case Kalil can’t turn it around next year. A mid-round offensive tackle would make sense if the team doesn’t sign a cheap veteran option in free agency.

Defensively, the Vikings could consider some youth at inside linebacker. They also might want a cornerback to go with Xavier Rhodes and Captain Munnerlyn.

Minnesota has good young players to develop for the future, especially on the defensive side of the ball with Anthony Barr, Sharrif Floyd, Rhodes and Harrison Smith. Vikings really just need to weaponize the offense around Bridgewater and see if he can develop into their franchise quarterback.

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