Monday Morning Draft – Week 15

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 loss to the Bills. Buffalo dropped the Browns to 0-14 on the season and 0-16 looks very likely. 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 blown out by the Falcons and weren’t competitive in the game. The 49ers are now 1-13. 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 isn’t going to happen. 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
  • 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.

    Oakland Raiders: Ryan Ramczyk, OT, Wisconsin
    Against San Diego in Week 15, Oakland’s offensive line allowed a few sacks of Derek Carr along with some hard hits on other plays. Obviously with the edge rushers of the Broncos, Chiefs, and Chargers, the Raiders are going to need good tackle protection for their franchise quarterback. Their left tackle, Donald Penn, is aging, while one of their other tackles Menelik Watson is entering free agency. Taking a tackle in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft has to be a consideration for Oakland if a quality prospect is there.

    Ramczyk (6-6, 314) has enjoyed a strong junior season for Wisconsin. He is a quick and athletic edge protector who should gain more functional strength for the next level, which he can do that in a NFL strength and conditioning program. He already has the feet and agility to be a blind-side pass protector against speed rushers. Taking Ramczyk would make sense for the Raiders late in the first round – if he enters the 2017 NFL Draft.

    Buffalo Bills: Mike Williams, WR, Clemson
    The Bills rolled over Cleveland, and Buffalo has a real shot at winning out to finish the season 9-7. If the Bills replace Rex Ryan, they should promote offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn to head coach. It is pretty impressive that they have averaged over 25 points per game without Sammy Watkins playing the majority of this season. Ryan and Rob Ryan have fielded underachieving defensive units in Buffalo. To help the offense, the team could use another receiver to pair with Watkins and help to pick up the slack if he is injured again. Lynn has done really well considering the lack of receiving talent he’s had to work with. Promoting Lynn would mimic what the Titans and Bucs did last offseason, and that approach has worked well for both franchises.

    On the year, Williams is up to 84 receptions for 1,171 yards and 10 touchdowns entering the college football playoff. He is a big wide receiver who is excellent at winning 50-50 passes and is a dangerous threat in the red zone. He has some run-after-the-catch skills, but needs to improve his hands to cut down on the drops. In the middle portion of the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft, Williams looks like a good fit for Buffalo.

    New York Giants: D’Onta Foreman, RB, Texas
    The Giants have struggled to run the ball all year. On Sunday, they ran for 114 yards on 32 carries against Detroit, but Rashad Jennings (18-38) was ineffective as the feature back. Meanwhile, Paul Perkins is more of a backup and change-of-pace back. To improve their rushing attack, the Giants should target a feature runner in the early rounds of the 2017 NFL Draft.

    Foreman (6-1, 249) had a tremendous 2016 season and is one of the most productive runners in the nation. He averaged 6.3 yards per carry for 2,028 yards with 15 touchdowns. He isn’t much of a receiver with seven receptions for 75 yards, but Foreman is a load as a runner who can run over the opposition. As a sophomore, he averaged 7.2 yards per carry for 681 yards and five touchdowns. The Giants could target Foreman on the second day of the 2017 NFL Draft and come away with a physical rushing attack.

    Indianapolis Colts: Fish Smithson, S, Kansas
    The Colts rolled the Vikings on Sunday, and it was surprising to see Indianapolis put together a strong defensive effort. The Colts have been hurt in the middle of the field this season in the ground game and through the air with tight ends. Kyle Rudolph still had a nice game for Minnesota on Sunday, and the Colts could use a safety upgrade from the deep safety class of the 2017 NFL Draft.

    One of the sleepers who is a potential steal in the 2017 NFL Draft is Kansas safety Fish Smithson. He was superb over the last two years playing for a struggling program. In 2016, Smithson totaled 93 tackles with seven passes broken up, four interceptions and two forced fumbles. He has played really well in pass coverage and run defense. In 2015 on an 0-12 team, Smithson led the nation with 7.9 solo tackles per game on 87 solo tackles. He totaled 111 stops with two interceptions, five passes broken up and one forced fumble on the year. The 6-foot-1, 210-pounder is versatile could be an upgrade for the Colts.

    New Orleans Saints: Quincy Wilson, CB, Florida
    The Saints won a shutout against Arizona, but once again their pass coverage struggled as Carson Palmer ripped the ball through the secondary. This offseason, the Saints have to find some cornerback upgrades for their defense.

    The 6-foot-1, 213pound Wilson could end up being one of the top cornerback prospects for the 2017 NFL Draft. In 2016, he has 28 tackles with six passes broken up and three interceptions. Sources say that Wilson has above-average speed. He is a longer press-man corner for the NFL with ball skills. Wilson does grab receivers a lot and could get called for a lot of pass interference penalties. He has above-average feel and awareness as well. Wilson would make sense for the Saints’ first-round pick.

    New England Patriots: Evan Engram, TE, Ole Miss
    The Patriots’ defense came through with a big effort against the Broncos to keep the team on track to have the No. 1 seed in the AFC. However, the Patriots had challenges scoring points against the Broncos’ tough defense, and clearly, New England is missing Rob Gronkowski. This is a great draft for tight end talent, so the Patriots could target a receiving tight end to pair with Gronkowski.

    Engram would get New England back to the days when the team had Aaron Hernandez terrorizing defense with double-tight end sets with Gronkowski. This season, Engram illustrated that he is a dynamic receiving tight end for the NFL in the mold of Jordan Reed, who was compared to Hernandez coming out of Florida. In 2016, Engram totaled 65 receptions for 926 yards and eight scores. Engram is a fast receiver who is a good route-runner. In double-tight end formations, Engram and Gronkowski would be a mismatch nightmare for offenses. New England could target Engram on the second day of the 2017 NFL Draft.

    Miami Dolphins: Reuben Foster, LB, Alabama
    The Dolphins’ defense has played well this season, and their huge performance on Saturday night led them to a win while starting their backup quarterback. Defensive coordinator Vance Joseph should be a head-coaching candidate this offseason. One weakness of Miami’s defense, however, is the lack of talent at linebacker. Adding a difference-maker at middle linebacker would help make the Dolphins even tougher to move the ball on. Bilal Powell (16-84) ran well against Miami despite the lack of a passing attack from New York.

    In 2016, Foster has 94 tackles with 12 tackles for a loss, four sacks and two passes broken up. He has been a really physical defender for Alabama. Foster is an excellent athlete with serious speed, but needs to improve his pass-coverage skills for the NFL. Some teams see him as a second-rounder, while others believe he will go in Round 1 or in the top-20. Foster could be a good fit as the Dolphins’ middle linebacker.

    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.

    Kansas City Chiefs:
    The Chiefs had a surprising loss at home to the Titans on Sunday as Tennessee was able to hit a last-second field goal to steal a win in Kansas City. That loss hurts the Chiefs’ playoff position, but they will still be playing come January. There is a lot of talent on the roster and Andy Reid generally has the team prepared well to play. The Chiefs could be a dangerous team in January, but the limitations of Alex Smith might be felt again. They don’t necessarily need Smith to be Peyton Manning or Tom Brady in their primes, but they need him to be clutch enough like a Brad Johnson or Trent Dilfer to guide a defense-led team to a championship. In order for that to happen, Kansas City needs to continue to build up the team around Smith.

    The Chiefs could look for a corner to partner with Marcus Peters. Kansas City has missed Sean Smith this season, and this is a strong cornerback draft with a plethora of first-round options for Kansas City. The Chiefs could consider candidates like Florida’s Jalen Tabor, Ohio State’s Gareon Conley, Washington’s Sidney Jones, LSU’s Tre’Davious White, USC’s Adoree’ Jacksonn and Iowa’s Desmond King.

    Kansas City could consider some linebacker help in the early rounds considering the age of Derrick Johnson and Tamba Hali. If the Chiefs wait until the second day of the 2017 NFL Draft, they could target edge rushers like Stanford’s Solomon Thomas, Illinois’ Carroll Phillips and Auburn’s Carl Lawson. For an inside linebacker, the organization could consider players like Florida’s Jarrad Davis, LSU’s Kendell Beckwith and Northwestern’s Anthony Walker.

    That would be a defensive draft, but Kansas City could also consider offensive help. To improve the offense, the Chiefs could target some help for their front. Making a first-round selection of a guard like Notre Dame’s Quenton Nelson wouldn’t be the sexiest pick, but he would be an upgrade and help the Chiefs run the ball while upgrading the interior pass protection.

    Kansas City could also consider taking a running back early in the 2017 NFL Draft. Jamaal Charles is aging and has a lot of injuries mounting, which makes for some serious wear-and-tear. Spencer Ware has had a quality year, but Kansas City must have a strong running game to help Alex Smith. Having a talented backfield is necessity. I compared Tennessee’s Alvin Kamara to Charles, and NFL scouts said that was a great comparison. The Chiefs also could consider Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey in the first round. Both would give the team a runner who is a similar player to Charles.

    Kansas City is in good position to compete in the AFC for years to come with young talent on defense and some play-makers on offense. The Chiefs just have to continue to draft well to build up a very talented team around Smith to make a run in January and finish it in February.

    Green Bay Packers:
    After the Packers fell to 4-6 on the season, it looked like their streak of playoff appearances was due to end. Aaron Rodgers said they had to run the table, and they are two games away from doing that. They still need some help to make the postseason, and if they get in, they will be dangerous as they have rattled off a string of victories while playing some of their best football of the season. Green Bay still has a Super Bowl window with Rodgers. The 33-year-old still has a number of good seasons left in him, so the organization must find a few more pieces to help build up the team around him.

    The Packers’ defense saw an insane amount of injuries strike their secondary earlier this season, and the defenders have played better than they’ve been given credit for. In the offseason, the team still could target some upgrades for the defense as Julius Peppers is aging while Nick Perry is entering free agency. Adding a young edge rusher would make sense, and there could be some options available. In the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft, Green Bay could consider players like Tennessee’s Derek Barnett, Missouri’s Charles Harris, Illinois’ Dawuane Smoot and Alabama’s Tim Williams. Barnett might not get to the Packers’ pick, while Williams has serious off-the-field issues that could rule him out of consideration for a character-conscious team like Green Bay.

    After drafting players like Jake Ryan and Blake Martinez, Green Bay is probably unlikely to take an inside linebacker in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft. The team runs a 3-4 defense, however, and adding an inside linebacker would give Green Bay three players, which would mean the defense wouldn’t be forced into moving Clay Matthews to the inside if injuries strike again. Alabama’s Reuben Foster and Vanderbilt’s Zach Cunningham could be first-round options for the Packers. Still, going with offense might be their best route.

    Offensively, Green Bay’s biggest need is at the running back position. Eddie Lacy is entering free agency, and it looks like Green Bay is likely to let him test the market. That may be a good decision as the 2017 NFL Draft features a very talented class of running backs. If the Packers took a first-round ball-carrier, Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey could be a good fit as a runner and receiver. Another great fit would be Tennessee’s Alvin Kamara. He is a phenomenal slot receiver along with being a fast, slashing runner. Kamara could be deadly in the Packers’ offense. A good power back to consider on Day 2 during the 2017 NFL Draft would be Texas’ D’Onta Foreman.

    The Packers also could use a difference-maker at tight end, and this is a great draft to target the position. Jared Cook has played well while in the lineup, but he’s entering free agency. It wouldn’t hurt to have more talent at the position even if he is re-signed. The 2017 NFL Draft should feature play-makeing tight ends in the early rounds with depth extending into Day 3. If the Packers took a tight end in the first round, their options would be Alabama’s O.J. Howard and Miami’s David Njoku. On the second day of the 2017 NFL Draft, potential candidates would include Ole Miss’ Evan Engram, Michigan’s Jake Butt, South Alabama’s Gerald Hodges and Clemson’s Jordan Leggett. Engram would give the Packers a Jordan Reed-type weapon, and that could be tremendous to pair with the franchise’s veteran quarterback.

    In the mid-rounds of the 2017 NFL Draft, it would make sense for Green Bay to add some offensive line depth. The team always seems to have injuries up front, and given how long Rodgers holds onto the ball, having offensive line talent is necessary. The Packers also could consider wide receiver depth given Davante Adams will be in the final year of his contract and Jordy Nelson is aging.

    While Green Bay has built up its defense through the draft in recent years, I think this year the organization should focus on adding talent to the offense in the form of a running back and tight end. A draft of Howard in Round 1 and Kamara in Round 2 could be phenomenal for the Packers’ offense. A variation that would be very good would be McCaffrey in the first round and Engram during Day 2.

    The Packers could easily make another Super Bowl run with Rodgers capable of leading the team to wins. They have a great front office and scouting staff led by Ted Thompson and Alonzo Highsmith. Another good draft could have the Packers making a Super Bowl run in 2017.

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