Monday Morning Draft – Conference

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 have the No. 1 pick and must use it to land a franchise quarterback. The only question will be whether to take Oregon’s Marcus Mariota or Florida State’s Jameis Winston. Sources with Tampa Bay say that Winston is the early leader between the two.

Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht and head coach Lovie Smith have to get the pick right. Tampa Bay is a perfect example of how drafting a bust quarterback sets a franchise back for five or more years. Josh Freeman had flaws coming out of Kansas State, but those were ignored. Freeman went bust, and as a result, the Bucs have gone 30-66 since firing Jon Gruden and drafting Freeman in the first round of the 2009 NFL Draft. The pressure is on for Licht and Smith.

Tennessee Titans:
Tennessee is more likely to draft a quarterback than to try to trade the pick away. Zach Mettenberger wasn’t good enough to convince the franchise to pass on Marcus Mariota or Jameis Winston if they both grade out high enough to be worthy of the No. 2 pick. knows from sources that Mariota has already impressed the Titans organization, and he could remind Tennessee fans of the glory days when the team had Steve McNair. The Titans also have the potential for a nice nucleus on offense around Mariota or Winston.

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.

Green Bay Packers: Erik Kendricks, OLB, UCLA
The Packers have had issues at inside linebacker for the past few years, and that issue reared up again in the 2015 NFC Championship. Late in the game, Marshawn Lynch and Russell Wilson had some clutch runs to move the chains and bring the Seahawks back from a 12-point deficit. Green Bay could really use a fast run-and-chase linebacker who can go sideline-to-sideline. The legs of Colin Kaepernick knocked Green Bay out of the postseason in 2013 and 2012, so a fast linebacker who can hunt mobile quarterbacks could be the missing piece for the Packers.

Kendricks was a tackling machine for UCLA. He recorded 149 tackles, 11.5 tackles for a loss, four sacks, two passes broken up, three interceptions and one forced fumble in 2014. Kendricks is an instinctive player who can defend sideline to sideline with great speed. He totaled over 400 tackles the past three seasons for the Bruins and could be a perfect fit in Green Bay.

Indianapolis Colts: Markus Golden, OLB, Missouri
The Colts won throughout most of 2014 despite a lack of production in the pass-rush department. It caught up to them in the AFC Championship blowout loss as they recorded only one sack of Tom Brady.

Jonathan Newsome led the team during the regular season with 6.5 sacks, while Erik Walden (six sacks) and Bjoern Werner (four sacks) also had modest contributions. Werner showed some progress in Year 2, but clearly the Colts are missing the edge rush they had with Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis. Taking a feature pass-rusher late in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft would make a lot of sense.

Golden (6-3, 260) has speed off the edge with some size to him. He recorded 10 sacks, 78 tackles, 20 tackles for a loss, two passes batted and three forced fumbles in 2014 despite having five games basically lost to an injury. Golden started the year well and finished it in impressive fashion once he returned to health. There hasn’t been a lot of attention give to Golden because of the huge season from teammate Shane Ray, but Golden is a dynamic edge defender who is very underrated heading into the lead up to the 2015 NFL Draft.

2025 NFL Mock Draft - May 12

Fantasy Football Rankings - May 9

NFL Power Rankings - Feb. 22

NFL Picks - Feb. 12