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.

Race for the No. 1 Pick:

Tennessee Titans:
The Titans finished 3-13 on the season and earned the No. 1-overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft. Despite the rough year, Tennessee has some young talent to build around led by quarterback Marcus Mariota. Now that the Titans have landed the No. 1-overall pick of the 2016 NFL Draft, it would make sense to select Ole Miss left tackle Laremy Tunsil. Tennessee allowed the most sacks in the NFL during 2015 and must keep Mariota healthy to move forward as a franchise.

If the Titans draft Tunsil, they could move Taylor Lewan to right tackle and Jeremiah Poutasi inside to guard. With right guard Chance Warmack, that group could make a huge difference for Mariota. The Titans also need help at cornerback, safety and running back, but there isn’t a prospect of Tunsil’s caliber at any of those positions. If Tennessee doesn’t get a huge package of picks to trade down, Tunsil is a no-brainer decision.

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.

New England Patriots: Jack Conklin, OT, Michigan State
The Patriots’ offensive line was a weakness late in the season, and the Broncos destroyed New England’s front in the AFC Championship. Denver’s defense just overwhelmed the Patriots’ offensive line, and the team has to upgrade Tom Brady’s blocking in the offseason. Landing a versatile, pro-ready blocker like Conklin would be an astute first-round pick for New England.

Conklin is a well-balanced blocker who is effective at protecting the passer and opening holes in the ground game. He turned in impressive back-to-back seasons as the blind-side protector for Connor Cook. Conklin is short of elite traits in terms of athleticism and speed to be viewed as a franchise left tackle.

The 6-foot-6, 303-pound Conklin could use a little more power for the next level, but he should add that in an NFL strength and conditioning program. In speaking with sources from multiple teams, they feel that Conklin would be better off as a right tackle in the NFL. They say a team could get away with him at left tackle, but ultimately would be looking for an upgrade who is more athletic. He also would fit well at guard. Conklin could compete for New England quickly.

Arizona Cardinals: Scooby Wright, LB, Arizona
The Cardinals fell behind quickly against Carolina, and the Panthers’ momentum from the first quarter on was unrelenting. One reason for Carolina to build up its lead was Panthers quarterback Cam Newton had plenty of time to deliver passes downfield. Arizona gave Newton too much time to pick apart its secondary. The Cardinals got a good season out of Dwight Freeney, but he’s not a long-term pass-rusher at his age. Inside linebacker Sean Weatherspoon also can’t be counted on to stay healthy. Thus a linebacker like Scooby Wright would be perfect for Arizona. He could play inside linebacker and also rush off the edge in passing situations.

Wright missed most of 2015 with knee and foot injuries, finishing the year with 23 tackles, 3.5 tackles for a loss and two sacks. He took college football by storm in 2014. The 6-foot-1, 246-pounder was a pass-rushing force for the Wildcats and one of the top defenders in the Pac-12. He had 14 sacks with 163 tackles, 29 tackles for a loss and six forced fumbles that year. Wright is an instinctive linebacker and was all over the field for Arizona. He could help the Cardinals’ defense to be more effective next year.

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