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.

Race for the No. 1 Pick:

Jacksonville Jaguars:
With the Lions getting their second win of the season, the Jaguars are in position to land the No. 1-overall pick for the second year in a row. If Jacksonville holds on to the top spot, it would make sense to trade down and add a bounty of picks to help build around Trevor Lawrence. The Jaguars roster has been terribly mismanaged by the likes of Dave Caldwell and Urban Meyer over the past few years. Jacksonville needs a lot of talent upgrades all over the roster, so trading down makes sense. The Jaguars are aided by this being a bad quarterback draft, so a team could give up a bounty of picks to move up for Pittsburgh quarterback Kenny Pickett.

If the Jaguars are unable to trade down, they could consider an edge rusher to go with Josh Allen. K’Lavon Chaisson is nearing bust territory and has been a major disappointment. The top candidates to go No. 1 in the 2022 NFL Draft would be Oregon’s Kayvon Thibodeaux and Michigan’s Aidan Hutchinson. Neither of those two would really be the wrong choice, and it would just depend on who is viewed as the best scheme fit for whatever system of the franchise’s next coaching staff wants to use.

Detroit Lions:
Detroit ripped up the Arizona Cardinals at Ford Field, but that was a costly win, dropping the Lions from the No. 1-overall slot for the 2022 NFL Draft. The Lions still might be able to land Pittsburgh quarterback Kenny Pickett as an upgrade over place holder Jared Goff, or they could upgrade the roster elsewhere and look to the 2023 NFL Draft for a quarterback.

The Lions are deep in rebuilding mode after previous general manager Bob Quinn and previous head coach Matt Patricia did a terrible job of drafting. It will take some time for Detroit to rebuild the roster new general manager Brad Holmes and new head coach Dan Campbell inherited. Hence, it could be a long year for the Lions, but Holmes is a phenomenal talent evaluator who will build a talented team and the Lions are playing really hard for Campbell. This is painful year, but the Lions have the staff to build a winner.

Holmes and Campbell will have a tough decision to make regarding taking Pittsburgh quarterback Kenny Pickett to replace Goff, or look to land Goff’s replacement in the 2023 NFL Draft. Clearly, Goff is not the long-term starter. If the Lions don’t take a quarterback, edge rusher could be the top consideration with Oregon’s Kayvon Thibodeaux or Michigan’s Aidan Hutchinson being the top candidates.

Top General Manager Candidates:

  • Detroit Lions director of scouting development Mike Martin
  • Indianapolis Colts director of college scouting Morocco Brown
  • Buffalo Bills assistant director of player personnel Terrance Gray
  • Atlanta Falcons vice president of player personnel Kyle Smith
  • Buffalo Bills assistant college scouting director Lake Dawson
  • Tennessee Titans director of pro scouting Brian Gardner
  • San Francisco 49ers director of pro personnel Ran Carthon
  • Pittsburgh Steelers pro scouting coordinator Brandon Hunt
  • Miami Dolphins assistant general manager Marvin Allen
  • Washington director of pro scouting Eric Stokes
  • Seattle Seahawks executive Alonzo Highsmith
  • Buffalo Bills general manager Joe Schoen

  • Top Head Coach Candidates:

  • Las Vegas Raiders offensive coordinator Greg Olson
  • Los Angeles Rams defensive coordinator Raheem Morris
  • Baltimore Ravens offensive coordinator Greg Roman
  • Baltimore Ravens defensive coordinator Don Martindale
  • Buffalo Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll
  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive coordinator Todd Bowles
  • Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bienemy
  • Miami Dolphins offensive coordinator George Godsey
  • Arizona Cardinals defensive coordinator Vance Joseph
  • Las Vegas Raiders offensive coordinator Gus Bradley
  • Las Vegas Raiders interim head coach Rich Bisaccia
  • USC head coach Lincoln Riley

  • 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.

    Buffalo Bills: Isaiah Spiller, RB, Texas A&M
    The Bills cruised over the Panthers, and it was the rare performance that saw Buffalo utilized more of rushing a offense than typical for the team early in the game. Still, Devin Singletary failed to crack 100 yards even though Carolina was without run-stuffing force Derrick Brown. Next offseason, it would make sense for the Bills to get a more consistent presence in the backfield with a player capable of being a three-down starter.

    In 2021, Spiller has averaged 5.6 yards per carry for 1,011 yards and six touchdowns. He also has 25 catches for 189 yards and a touchdown. His tape as a receiver against Colorado was impressive and will help him with pro evaluators, and Spiller made a lot of clutch plays to help knock off Alabama. The 6-foot-1, 225-pound Spiller is put together well with a nice combination of size and quickness. He could be a three-down starter quickly in his career and a plug-and-play upgrade for Buffalo.

    Dallas Cowboys: Darian Kinnard, OT, Kentucky
    A lot was made entering abot Dak Prescott being in a slump beofrethe Cowboys knocked off the Giants. Quarterbacks get too much credit and too much blame, as Dallas has dealt with some inconsistency on its offensive line. Left guard has been a problem, and Connor Williams could be a bust. The Cowboys could take a blocker like Kinnard to have an upgrade at guard and an option for right tackle.

    The 6-foot-5, 340-pound Kinnard is a strong blocker with surprising quickness and athleticism. He has looked like he has trimmed weight for 2021 and is moving better in space. Kinnard was an excellent contributor for the Wildcats in 2020. He is a massive beast at the point of attack who is a tough run blocker and plays with a mean streak. Kinnard was a tough run blocker in 2019, helping Lynn Bowden to a lot of success when running behind Kinnard and the right side of the offensive line. For the NFL, Kinnard’s best fit might come as a right tackle in a power-man scheme. He would be an excellent second-round pick for Dallas and could help reestablish the rushing offense with better blocking for Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard.

    Miami Dolphins: Brian Robinson Jr., RB, Alabama
    The Dolphins won their sixth straight game with a comeback win over the Jets. This season, Miami has struggled to run the ball, but versus the Jets, the Dolphins put up a surprising output of 107 yards and two touchdowns from Duke Johnson. That helped make up for an underwhelming performance from Tua Tagovailoa. Obviously, Johnson is not a long-term starter at this point of his career, but Miami could target running back help in the 2022 NFL Draft.

    Robinson has enjoyed a breakout 2021 season, averaging 4.8 yards per carry for 1,071 yards and 14 touchdowns. He has 31 catches for 268 yards and two touchdowns while showing nice ability as a pass protector in the pocket. Robinson (6-1, 225) has quickness and burst to get to the second level along with surprising athleticism and agility in the passing game for a big back. This season, Robinson has been a real riser with pro teams. He would be an excellent second-round pick for Miami in the 2022 NFL Draft.

    Pittsburgh Steelers: Ikem Ekonwu, OT, N.C. State
    The Steelers edged the Titans by six thanks to their defense coming through with some clutch plays, as Ben Roethlisberger struggled, throwing for less than 150 yards and Najee Harris (12-18) found zero running lanes. Not a single Pittsburgh receiver had 40 yards through the air. The Steelers won’t be picking high enough to land Pittsburgh Panthers quarterback Kenny Pickett. The Steelers could look to add a veteran quarterback and the draft some offensive line talent in the first round.

    Ekwonu (6-4, 320) has put together an impressive 2021 season that has earned him high grades from NFL teams. In speaking to one director of player personnel, they said their team had Ekwonu as a mid- to late first-round pick. Ekonwu has experience at both guard and tackle with the Wolfpack, but projects as being able to play left tackle in the NFL. He is a fierce and physical run blocker. While he has some things to work on as a pass blocker, the potential is there for him to stay on the edge. The Steelers need young talent for their offensive line, and Ekonwu could be a plug-and-play upgrade with upside.

    Detroit Lions: Aidan Hutchinson, DE, Michigan
    The Lions rolled the Cardinals, outplaying Arizona for all four quarters with a smothering defensive effort and an impressive outing from the Detroit passing attack. This win could by a Pyrrhic victory for the Lions, as it knocks them out of the No. 1 pick of the 2022 NFL Draft, which could end up costing them Pittsburgh quarterback Kenny Pickett. If the Jaguars trade down with a team that wants Pickett, Detroit could look to upgrade its defense. Hutchinson could give the Lions a difference maker in the front seven and help to form an excellent edge-rush trio with Romeo Okwara and Charles Harris.

    Hutchinson (6-3, 261) has quality size for the next level, is a good athlete, has quickness, and displays a pretty good get-off. He plays hard and gives relentless effort as a pass rusher. With his speed, athleticism and hand usage, Hutchinson is a hard-charging, dangerous pass rusher who harasses the quarterback.

    In the ground game, Hutchinson is sufficient. He wants to win with suddenness and athletic ability to knife through with moving and slanting. As a run defender, he can find the ball and use his quickness and athletic ability to make plays. He does not, however, seem to want plays to be run right at him, and sources feel his run defense is alarming when teams go straight at him. He could be a base end in a 4-3 or a 3-4 edge rusher. In 2021, Hutchinson has 58 tackles, 14 sacks, three passes batted, a fumble recovered and two forced fumbles. Taking Hutchinson in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft would add serious talent to the Detroit defense and also generate some excitement in the fan base.

    Houston Texans: Kayvon Thibodeaux, DE, Oregon
    The Texans got their third win of the season thanks to a big game from Brandin Cooks, excellent special teams play, and an efficient outing from Davis Mills. The win realistically cancels any chance at the Texans landing the No. 1-overall pick, but they could land a difference maker for their defense to replace J.J. Watt as their defensive cornerstone. Thibodeaux would be a plug-and-play upgrade for the Houston defense.

    Thibodeaux spent the 2021 season dealing with an ankle injury, but he still racked up 49 tackles, seven sacks, one pass batted and two forced fumbles. He recorded 32 tackles, three sacks and three passes batted in 2020. Thibodeaux had a superb freshman season for the Ducks, doing an excellent job of getting after the quarterback and totaling nine sacks, 35 tackles, a forced fumble and three passes batted.

    Thibodeaux (6-5, 242) is very fast off the edge with an explosive first-step and flashes speed to power to bull rush some offensive tackles. He could stand to refine and add more pass-rushing moves, but he has big-time ability and a lot of upside to develop. With Jon Greenard on the other side, Thibodueax could get the Texans back to having a dangerous edge-rush tandem.

    Kansas City Chiefs: David Ojabo, DE, Michigan
    The Chiefs added Melvin Ingram to be an edge rusher across from Frank Clark, but Kansas City could use a long-term answer for a defensive end to go on the other side. That was clear against the Chargers on Thursday night and in other games this season. The 2022 NFL Draft is rich in edge-rush talent, so a good value could slide to the Chiefs late in the first round. Ojabo would be a great fit for Kansas City.

    Thanks to Aidan Hutchinson commanding a lot of attention, Ojabo has broken out in 2021, recording 35 tackles, 11 sacks, five forced fumbles and three passes defended. The 6-foot-5, 250-pounder is fast off the edge with the ability to bend underneath offensive tackles. Ojabo could stand to get better as a run defender for the NFL. He is a 1-year wonder who could fit as a 3-4 outside linebacker, but also could stay in a 4-3 defense. Ojabo and Clark would give the Chiefs a dangerous edge rush duo to harass quarterbacks and help close out wins.

    Team Draft Report:

    In this section, we take a deeper look at specific teams and where they stand in regards to the 2020 NFL Draft.

    Indianapolis Colts:
    Two years ago, the Tennessee Titans became a hot team late in the season, making a run almost all the way to the Super Bowl. Tennessee was led by a power running game, efficient quarterback play, a tough defense, and a good coaching staff. The Colts have the same ingredients this year, so they could get hot late in the season and challenge to go deep into the postseason if they can get one of the wild-card spots. Beyond this year, Indianapolis is solidly positioned to be among the top teams in the AFC. The Colts have a talented young roster with an excellent general manager in Chris Ballard, a great scouting staff led by director of college scouting Morocco Brown, and one of the best head coaches in the NFL with Frank Reich. With a few more additions, the Colts could go over the top as a Super Bowl contender for many years to come.

    Ballard and Brown have led the Colts to add three potential Hall of Famers in a 5-year span, Quenton Nelson, Darius Leonard and Jonathan Taylor. Each of those three look like they could end up being enshrined in Canton. Ballard and Brown also used a first-round pick to trade for another potential Hall of Fame in DeForest Buckner. If Carson Wentz wins a Super Bowl or two with the Colts, it would be hard to keep him out with two or three championship rings. Indianapolis is built to be one of the best teams in the AFC this decade, and a few more good drafts could put the franchise over the top.

    In my latest mock 2022 NFL Draft, I have the Colts taking Penn State wide receiver Jahan Dotson, who would be a great replacement for T.Y. Hilton. Indianapolis could use another speed receiver to go across from Michael Pittman Jr. Dotson was a dangerous playmaker for Penn State this season and is a natural football player. There are some wide receivers who could go in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft but also might slip to Round 2. That group could consist of Kentucky’s Wan’Dale Robinson, USC’s Drake London, Arkansas’ Treylon Burks, Cincinnati’s Alec Pierce and Alabama’s Jameson Williams. London and Burks are big possessional receivers, while Robinson and Williams are speed-mismatch threats. On Day 2 of the 2022 NFL Draft, there could be other good value picks in the form of Dotson, Maryland’s Dontay Demus and Boston College’s Zay Flowers. If Indianapolis wants a deep-speed threat like Hilton, the best candidates for that would be Williams, Dotson and Flowers.

    Aside from wide receiver, the Colts could use a left tackle. Eric Fisher was signed to a 1-year contract after Anthony Castonozo retired, but the team could use a long-term starter. Tulsa’s Tyler Smith could be a second-round steal because he is a great athlete with huge upside. Penn State’s Rasheed Walker has physical talent, but needs to be coached up. Ohio State’s Nick Petit-Frere and Northern Iowa’s Trevor Penning could easily go in the first round, but if either slides to the second round they would be a great option.

    Defensively, Indianapolis could consider some help in the secondary. Xavier Rhodes has played well since being signed in free agency. The Colts could consider a young understudy for him, with second-round options like Alabama’s Josh Jobe, Alabama’s Jalyn Armour-Davis, Washington’s Kyler Gordon, Auburn’s Roger McCreary, Virginia Tech’s Jermaine Waller, Tennessee’s Alontae Taylor and Missouri’s Akayleb Evans. There are lot of quality options to consider for cornerback talent on the second day of the 2022 NFL Draft.

    The Colts are fortunate to have two elite talent evaluators in Ballard and Brown leading their drafts. Another team could snatch Brown away to be their general manager this offseason, but if he stays, Indianapolis has a great team of evaluators to lead its drafts and continue the franchise’s growth into being one of the elite teams in the AFC.

    Los Angeles Chargers:
    Even though the Chargers lost in overtime to the Chiefs, the future is clearly bright in Los Angeles. General manager Tom Telesco has done a tremendous job of drafting talent to stock the organization’s roster with young stars to lead the Chargers into being a legit Super Bowl contender. Quarterback Justin Herbert and defensive end Joey Bosa are entering the prime of their careers, and a few more pieces could help those superstars lead the Chargers into championship status.

    In my latest mock 2022 NFL Draft, I have the Chargers taking Georgia defensive end Travon Walker, and it could make sense to add more edge-rush talent. It will be interesting to see how Kenneth Murray performs as an edge rusher over the final games of 2021, but the 2022 class has good edge-rush depth to consider as replacements for Melvin Ingram. Some other late first-round options could include Michigan’s David Ojabo and USC’s Drake Jackson. With Bosa’s big contract, it makes sense to have a cheap first-round talent across from him.

    The Chargers also could use more youth at cornerback. Casey Hayward left last offseason, while rookie second-round pick Asante Samuel Jr. could be at his best if he operates out of the slot as the long-term replacement for Chris Harris. Some first-round options for Los Angeles to consider at cornerback include Alabama’s Josh Jobe and Washington’s Trent McDuffie. LSU’s Derek Stingley and Cincinnati’s Ahmad Gardner will probably be long gone by the time Los Angeles is on the clock.

    On offense, it might make sense for the Chargers to consider for a receiving weapon for Herbert. Mike Williams is entering free agency, and the team has some options in Keenan Allen’s contract to consider. If Williams leaves in free agency, it would make sense to target a wideout. Ohio State’s Garrett Wilson could be off the board, but there are other good first-round options for Los Angeles to consider. That group could consist of Kentucky’s Wan’Dale Robinson, USC’s Drake London, Arkansas’ Treylon Burks, Cincinnati’s Alec Pierce and Alabama’s Jameson Williams. London and Burks are big possessional receivers while, Robinson and Williams are speed-mismatch threats.

    Due to the good drafting of Telesco, the Chargers have a well-rounded talented young roster. They are in the fortunate position where they will be able to take the best player available in the majority of rounds in the 2022 NFL Draft and continue to build up their depth. Before long, the Chargers could be a legit Super Bowl contender in the AFC.

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