Monday Morning Draft – Week 11

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 Shizer for Kizer:

Cleveland Browns
Cleveland maintained its draft status with a loss to the Steelers. Pittsburgh dropped the Browns to 0-11 on the season, and they are the only winless team in the NFL. Obviously, Cleveland has a huge rebuilding process, and it all starts with finding a future franchise quarterback. Perhaps the Browns won’t blow it like they did last spring when they passed on Carson Wentz, but with a baseball general manager running the Browns, you can’t have any confidence that the franchise has the people in place to get it right.

San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers were competitive at home for awhile against the Patriots, but of course, eventually New England pulled away. The 49ers are now 1-9 and look like they could be the worst team in the league as the Browns have played more competitive games, overall. San Francisco lacks talent thanks to the poor decisions made by general manager Trent Baalke, so going on a run to ruin the team’s draft positioning looks unlikely. As one of the examples of Baalke’s bad decisions, it is an unacceptable failure to go into a season with Blaine Gabbert as the starting quarterback. The 49ers’ Week 1 win was a fluke, and they could easily go 1-15 this season. If they land the No. 1-overall pick, getting a franchise quarterback is the priority.

Other Teams In Contention
  • Chicago Bears
  • Jacksonville Jaguars

  • 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: Zach Cunningham, LB, Vanderbilt
    New England had issues with 49ers tight end Vance McDonald making plays down the seam, and Colin Kaepernick had some good runs. The Patriots traded away Jamie Collins and have Dont’a Hightower entering free agency after this season, so adding some linebacker talent could be a huge need this offseason. If the Patriots have Zach Cunningham fall to their first-round pick, it would be hard to pass on him as he would be a great fit for them.

    In 2016, Cunningham has 109 tackles with 16.5 for a loss, two passes batted and one forced fumble. The 6-foot-4, 230-pounder is a quick, instinctive linebacker who is a reliable tackler. He is a versatile player with the skill set to be a three-down starter in the NFL. Cunningham has the length, quickness and athleticism to be effective in pass coverage. That was illustrated last Saturday when he looked good defending Ole Miss tight end Evan Engram. Cunningham is very good at taking on and shedding blocks before making tackles. He could be a long-term asset in the middle of the Patriots’ defense.

    Indianapolis Colts: Samaje Perine, RB, Oklahoma
    The Colts have so many needs on the defensive side of the ball and even on the offensive line, that they probably can’t afford to take a running back in the first round. Still, Indianapolis needs a starting tailback. Frank Gore (18-50) is slowing down and nearing the end of his great career. The 2017 NFL Draft should be strong at the running back position, so Indianapolis could find a nice value on the second day of the draft.

    Perine (5-10, 235) is a downhill workhorse back who would upgrade the physicality of the Colts’ offense. This season, he has split carries with Joe Mixon, and that reduces the wear and tear that Perine has entering the NFL. He’s averaged 5.2 yards per carry this season for 735 yards with 10 touchdowns. Perine ran for 1,349 yards as a sophomore and 1,713 yards as a freshman with 37 rushing touchdowns over those two seasons. Perine could be a steal on the second day of the 2017 NFL Draft.

    Minnesota Vikings: Nick Chubb, RB, Georgia
    The Vikings got a critical win thanks to their defense and special teams producing points to end their four-game losing streak. Minnesota didn’t have a big performance offensively, and the limitations of the scoring unit have been problematic all season. Obviously, the Vikings have missed Adrian Peterson this season and their ground-based offense hasn’t been the same. Adding a young running back talent to be the eventual replacement for Peterson would make sense.

    Chubb would be a perfect fit for Minnesota. Prior to his torn ACL as a sophomore, Chubb looked like a future first-round pick. He was a bowling ball of power, speed and explosiveness. This season, Chubb has played well while not being 100 percent. He has averaged 4.9 yards per carry in 2016 for 900 yards with six touchdowns. He has five receptions for 86 yards and a touchdown as well. The Vikings would be a perfect fit because Chubb could backup Peterson and get all the way back to 100 percent before eventually replacing the future Hall of Famer. Taking Chubb with their second-round pick would give the Vikings a first-round talent even though that pick was traded away for Sam Bradford.

    Dallas Cowboys: Rasul Douglas, CB, West Virginia
    The Cowboys have had cornerback issues for the past couple of seasons, and Morris Claiborne is entering free agency after the season. Dallas could use more cornerback talent for Rod Marinelli. That was illustrated by Joe Flacco, who completed 66 percent of his passes, and Steve Smith (8-99-1) having good games against the Cowboys’ secondary.

    Douglas has had a breakout senior year with seven interceptions, 51 tackles and six passes broken up. The 6-foot-2, 203-pounder is an tough press-man corner who also has the size to be a good zone corner. He has serious ball skills with the size to handle big receivers. In the early rounds of the 2017 NFL Draft, Douglas could be a good value for Dallas.

    Buffalo Bills: Shelton Gibson, WR, West Virginia
    The Bills have had problems at wide receiver all season. A big reason for that has been the injury to Sammy Watkins, but the other wideouts haven’t stepped up to help Tyrod Taylor. Buffalo has to upgrade its receiving corps this offseason and find some players who can bring some playmaking to the offense. If Watkins is healthy in 2017 with some new talent at the position, that could make a night-and-day difference for the Bills’ offense.

    Gibson is has been a play-maker for West Virginia the past two seasons. As a sophomore (37-887-9), he averaged 24 yards per catch, and as a junior, he’s averaging 21 yards per reception with 37 catches for 766 yards and six scores. Gibson (6-0, 198) isn’t undersized, and he can stretch defenses downfield. If he enters the 2017 NFL Draft, he would make a lot of sense for Buffalo in the early rounds.

    Pittsburgh Steelers: Sidney Jones, CB, Washington
    The Steelers collected eight sacks as they cruised to a win over the terrible Browns. Pittsburgh did allow Terrelle Pryor (5-97) to have a good game though, and the team’s coverage issues haven’t been completely fixed this season. Over the past few years, the Steelers have had problems covering receivers and could use a true No. 1 corner for their defense. Jones would be a great scheme fit.

    In 2016, Jones has been one of the best cover corners in the nation. He is rarely thrown at because he routinely blankets receivers and keeps them from getting open. Jones has totaled 29 tackles with three interceptions and six passes broken up on the year. The 6-foot, 180-pounder needs to fill out his frame for the NFL, but he has legit coverage skills to defend a variety of receivers.

    Carolina Panthers: Marcus Maye, S, Florida
    Carolina has had pass-coverage issues this season and has missed Josh Norman. While the Panthers drafted a lot of cornerbacks last year, they still could use an upgrade at safety. The Saints almost pulled off a comeback on Thursday night through the arm of Drew Brees. Adding some more safety talent would upgrade the Panthers’ pass coverage and run defense.

    Carolina could target Maye early in the second round of the 2017 NFL Draft. In 2016, Maye totaled 50 tackles with one interception and six passes broken up before a broken arm ended his season early. Maye is a well-rounded safety who can contribute to the run game and also has some pass-coverage skills. Sources say Maye (5-11, 203) has some kinks to work out with some painful occasional busts. He plays really well and then suffers a lapse and allows a reception downfield he shouldn’t. If Maye can eliminate those hiccups, he could be an excellent NFL safety.

    Team Draft Report:

    In this section, we take a deeper look at specific teams and where they stand in regards to the 2017 NFL Draft.

    New York Giants:
    Before the season started, I predicted the Giants to win the NFC East behind their potent passing attack and an improved defense. Thus far, I haven’t been that far off as New York has stayed in the division race while also being one of the leaders for a wild-card berth. Even though it has been years since the Giants were in the playoffs, they have a Super Bowl window still open with Eli Manning. He’s proven he can win championships, and now the franchise needs to build up the team around him before he is done.

    The biggest need to address for the Giants is the lack of running game. Their offense has been one dimensional this season and entering this Sunday, they had the 31st-ranked rushing attack in the NFL. I didn’t like Andre Williams coming out of Boston College, and he was a bust of a pick. Rashad Jennings is only a backup-caliber runner, so New York could use a feature back to supplement the passing attack. In the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft, the Giants won’t be picking high enough to land LSU’s Leonard Fournette or Florida State’s Dalvin Cook. However, this is a very good running back class, so New York could land a player like Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey or Tennessee’s Alvin Kamara. Both are great receivers as well as being play-making runners. Either would go really well in the Giants’ offense.

    If the Giants wait for the second day of the 2017 NFL Draft, there should be some good options available. Players to consider would include Georgia’s Nick Chubb, Oregon’s Royce Freeman or Clemson’s Wayne Gallman. All could be upgrades for New York.

    The Giants could also consider going with a defensive end. They were at their best when they sent the pass rush in waves of rotated defenders who were all capable of putting heat on the quarterback. Jason Pierre-Paul is an impending free agent, and if New York doesn’t re-sign him, taking a defensive end would be a top priority. In the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft, the Giants could consider players like Missouri’s Charles Harris, Illinois’ Dawuane Smoot, or Alabama’s Tim Williams, although all three might be better fits as outside linebackers in a 3-4 defense. Another player to consider would be Michigan defensive end Chris Wormley. He could play end on run downs and move inside in passing situations.

    Another need for the Giants to address is the offensive tackle position. New York wanted Jack Conklin in the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft, but the Titans jumped in ahead to get Conklin. This isn’t a good draft for offensive tackles on Day 2, but the Giants could consider players like USC’s Chad Wheeler, UCLA’s Conor McDermott or Bucknell’s Julie’n Davenport.

    Another position to consider on Day 2 or during the mid-rounds could be safety. Landon Collins is having a breakout season, but the Giants could use a young free safety to pair with him. This is a phenomenal safety draft, so New York could find a good value in a safety on the second day. Some players to consider would be Florida’s Marcus Maye, Texas A&M’s Armani Watts or Kansas’ Fish Smithson. All three have free safety potential for the NFL.

    With another good draft and perhaps some good signings in free agency, the Giants could be in position for Eli Manning to go for his third Super Bowl ring. This is an important offseason for general manager Jerry Reese to seize a championship opportunity.

    Tennessee Titans:
    Even though they lost on the road to the Colts, there is no doubt that the Tennessee Titans are one of the most improved teams in the NFL. Titans general manager Jon Robinson and director of college scouting Blake Beddingfield have done an excellent job of improving the Titans’ roster, while Mike Mularkey and his staff doing a good job of developing the young talent. With second-year quarterback Marcus Mariota showing vast improvement, Tennessee could be building a team that could be a perennial playoff contender for many years to come. The Titans are also armed with two first-round picks and two third-round picks to further bolster their roster. It is getting exciting again to be a Titans fan.

    Tennessee still has a few needs to address to help improve on both sides of the ball. The defense is probably in greater need than the offense at this point, with the secondary being the prime area to address. Luckily for Tennessee, this is a very good draft for defensive back talent with an abundance of good safeties and cornerbacks. Rookie Kevin Byard could be a starting safety of the future, but the Titans need a difference-maker to go with him. In the first round, they might be picking high enough via the pick from the Rams to land Ohio State’s Malik Hooker. He is a star safety, and scouting sources have compared him to Sean Taylor and Ed Reed. If the Titans aren’t picking high enough to land Hooker, they could get an upgrade in LSU’s Jamal Adams, Michigan’s Jabrill Peppers. Adams and Peppers are strong safeties, while Hooker is a free safety (FS) or strong safety (SS). On Day 2 of the 2017 NFL Draft, some good candidates include Florida’s Marcus Maye, Texas A&M’s Justin Evans (SS), Texas A&M’s Armani Watts (FS), Kansas’ Fish Smithson (SS/FS), BYU’s Kai Nacua (SS) and Alabama’s Eddie Jackson (FS).

    Tennessee also needs a No. 1 cornerback. In a division with young receivers like DeAndre Hopkins, T.Y. Hilton and Allen Robinson, the Titans are going to need a No. 1 corner to help limit those play-makers. In the top 20, there should be some excellent options, including USC’s Adoree’ Jackson, Alabama’s Marlon Humphrey, Florida’s Quincy Wilson, Florida’s Teez Tabor, Ohio State’s Marshon Lattimore and Ohio State’s Gareon Conley.

    Offensively, the Titans need to upgrade their receiving corps for Marcus Mariota. This isn’t a great receiver draft, but some first-round options to consider would include Clemson’s Mike Williams, SMU’s Courtland Sutton and West Virginia’s Shelton Gibson. If Tennessee waits until the second day of the 2017 NFL Draft, the organization could target a receiver with one of its picks in the third round. Western Michigan’s Corey Davis would be a great wideout to work with Mariota and Tajae Sharpe. Other good candidates include LSU’s Travin Dural, LSU’s Malachi Dupre, Florida State’s Travis Rudolph, Virginia Tech’s Isaiah Ford and Eastern Washington’s Cooper Kupp. For quick receivers who achieve separation, Ford and Kupp could be the best fits aside from Davis.

    Those are the prime needs on the Titans’ roster, and they have some secondary ones as well. The team could use a tight end to pair with Delanie Walker, and this is a great tight end draft. Clemson’s Jordan Leggett, Arkansas’ Jeremy Sprinkle, or Michigan’s Jake Butt would be great options on Day 2. Tennessee also could consider some guard help if Chance Warmack isn’t brought back.

    The Titans also might want to consider a young edge rusher considering that Derrick Morgan and Brian Orakpo aren’t the youngest of players. If a good one falls to Tennessee in the first round, that might even be worth considering. A player like Alabama’s Tim Williams, Missouri’s Charles Harris or Tennessee’s Derek Barnett would all be good players to add for coach Dick LeBeau.

    Tennessee is really improving under Robinson, Beddingfield and Mularkey. With two more first-round picks coming on their roster, the Titans could end up being one of the best young teams in the AFC.

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