Monday Morning Draft – Week 1

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:

New York Jets:
Baltimore cruised over New York in the season opener. The Jets have young talent on their roster, but New York is in a difficult division and a loaded conference. The biggest question and problem for the Jets is quarterback Zach Wilson. Wilson has not looked good thus far and if he goes bust that will be devastating for the franchise.

Jacksonville Jaguars:
Jacksonville almost got a win versus the Commies in Week 1. The Jaguars look like a vastly improved team but they still are very young and could have depth issues that hurt when injuries inevitably happen. Still, it would be surprising if the Jaguars had the No. 1 overall-pick for a third straight draft.

Houston Texans:
Houston is still rebuilding from the devastation done to their roster and franchise by Bill O’Brien. The Texans are long ways from winning or being competitive in the challenging AFC. They tied the Colts because of Indianapolis’ self-inflicted mistakes, but the Texans clearly are not a good football team and that was evident in blowing their 17-point fourth quarter lead.

Top General Manager Candidates:

  • Detroit Lions director of scouting development Mike Martin
  • Atlanta Falcons vice president of player personnel Kyle Smith
  • Indianapolis Colts chief personnel executive Morocco Brown
  • Buffalo Bills director of player personnel Terrance Gray
  • Tennessee Titans director of pro scouting Brian Gardner
  • San Francisco 49ers director of pro personnel Ran Carthon
  • Philadelphia Eagles director of scouting Brandon Hunt
  • Miami Dolphins assistant general manager Marvin Allen
  • Washington Commanders director of pro scouting Eric Stokes
  • Miami Hurricanes general manager Alonzo Highsmith

  • Top Head Coach Candidates:

  • Las Vegas Rams offensive assistant Greg Olson
  • Los Angeles Rams defensive coordinator Raheem Morris
  • Detroit Lions defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn
  • Baltimore Ravens offensive coordinator Greg Roman
  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich
  • Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bienemy
  • Arizona Cardinals defensive coordinator Vance Joseph
  • Indianapolis Colts defensive coordinator Gus Bradley
  • Green Bay Packers special teams coordinator 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.

    Cleveland Browns: Dontay Demus Jr., WR, Maryland
    The Browns won on a last-second field goal after getting the true Amari Cooper experience with him catching just three passes for 17 yards. Donovan Peoples-Jones (6-60) led the Browns in receiving, but they need more receiving weapons for Deshaun Watson. In the second round of the 2023 NFL Draft, Cleveland could target a weapon for Watson.

    Demus was producing really well for Maryland in 2021 before being was carted off the field against Iowa in early October and going out for the season. The 6-foot-3, 213-pound Demus was on his way to being a first-rounder thanks to showing a special combination of size and speed prior to getting hurt. In 2021, he averaged 18.1 yards per catch over 28 receptions for 507 yards and three touchdowns. Demus flashed big-play ability in 2020 (24-365-4), 2019 (41-625-6) and 2018 (13-278). Team sources think he could have still been a second-round pick had he entered the 2022 NFL Draft, despite his torn ACL.

    Chicago Bears: Quentin Johnston, WR, TCU
    Even though there was rain, the Bears showed that the media got ahead of themselves with all the preseason hype around Trey Lance. While Chicago’s defense played well, the team’s offense struggled. Running back David Montgomery was the Bears leading receiver, making three catches for 24 yards. Chicago clearly needs a No. 1 receiver for Justin Fields.

    Johnston flashed in 2021, catching 33 passes for 612 yards and six touchdowns. Sources from around the league are high on his skill set. An area scout shared the following opinion with “He’s 6-foot-3, 215 pounds and can win on all three levels. He puts up 20 yards per catch, runs great routes, is super smart, an alpha, and the hardest worker on the team.”

    While Johnston still has more to prove with pro evaluators, they are high on him across the board. He could end up being the top receiver prospect in the 2023 NFL Draft.

    New Orleans Saints: Michael Mayer, TE, Notre Dame
    The Saints were limited to 10 points for three quarters, but 17 fourth-quarter points led them to the comeback win over Atlanta. New Orleans enjoyed a good debut from Jarvis Landry, and Michael Thomas caught two touchdowns. However, the franchise could use a receiving tight end to help Jameis Winston make the offense more consistent.

    Mayer has 13 receptions for 135 yards and a touchdown so far in 2022. Last season, he recorded 71 receptions for 840 yards and seven touchdowns. As a freshman, the 6-foot-4, 251-pound Mayer stepped in for Cole Kmet, and the Fighting Irish didn’t miss a beat in the transition. Mayer caught 42 passes for 450 yards and two touchdowns in 2020.

    Mayer has a good skill set with quickness, reliable hands, yards-after-the-catch ability, and blocking potential. In the second round of the 2023 NFL Draft, Mayer would be a good value for the Saints.

    Washington Commanders: Kelee Ringo, CB, Georgia
    The Commanders were able to get a close win over the Jaguars. Carson Wentz threw two interceptions, but he also had four touchdown passes. Washington allowed Christian Kirk (6-117) to have a big debut for Jacksonville, and cornerback was a weak position for the Commanders in 2021. They need to find more cornerback talent for Ron Rivera’s defense.

    In 2021, Ringo collected 34 tackles, two interceptions and eight passes broken up. He played well as one of the replacements for Tyson Campbell. Ringo is a big cornerback who has a lot of upside. The 6-foot-2, 205-pounder could end up being a riser for the 2023 NFL Draft and would fit Rivera’s scheme, similar to other big corners like Josh Norman or James Bradberry.

    Pittsburgh Steelers: Jaylon Jones, CB, Texas A&M
    The Steelers intercepted Joe Burrow four times, but they still struggled to cover Ja’Marr Chase, and they are going to have a problem with him for another decade. Adding more cornerback talent capable of covering Chase would make sense for Pittsburgh’s first-round pick in the 2023 NFL Draft.

    During the past few seasons, Jones really flashed for the Aggies, including in 2021, when he recorded 35 tackles, two interceptions and six passes defended. Team sources think Jones has a lot of potential as a cover corner for the NFL. He has really impressive movement skills, including speed and athleticism. Along with a good skill set, Jones displays solid instincts and is a willing tackler. He could be a good first-rounder for the Steelers in the 2023 NFL Draft.

    Philadelphia Eagles: Ahmad Gardner, CB, Cincinnati
    The Eagles held on to win over the Lions, but Detroit ate up the Philadelphia defense. Jamaal Williams and D’Andre Swift combined for three touchdowns, with Swift ripping up the Eagles for 175 combined yards. Perhaps Nakobe Dean will fix Philadelphia’s linebacker issues during the course of this season, but in Week 1, the team’s linebacker play was once again a liability.

    Overshown recorded 74 tackles, two passes broken up and two sacks in 2021. In 2020, he totaled 60 tackles, one sack, two forced fumbles, two interceptions and seven passes defended.

    Overshown is a fast linebacker with crazy track speed and athleticism. He can really run and has coverage potential, but 6-foot-2, 220-pounder needs to get bigger, stronger and tougher for the next level. In the second round of the 2023 NFL Draft, Overshown could be a candidate for the Eagles.

    Buffalo Bills: Noah Sewell, LB, Oregon
    Buffalo’s defense pitched a second-half shutout the Rams and put together a superb game against Matthew Stafford. After falling behind Los Angeles did not run, but the team couldn’t find running room early anyway. Bills linebacker Tremaine Edmunds is a free agent after this season, and they may not have the money to give him a huge extension after paying Matt Milano, Von Miller, Stefon Diggs, Josh Allen and Dawson Knox.

    Sewell was all over the field for the Ducks during the 2021 season, totaling 114 tackles, four sacks, one interception, five passes broken up and two forced fumbles. To go along with his production, Sewell is a big and imposing linebacker at 6-foot-3, 260 pounds. Sewell is instinctive, plus he runs and covers really well for a massive linebacker. He is the younger brother Detroit Lions stud offensive tackle Penei Sewell. Late in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft, Sewell could be an interesting fit for Buffalo.

    Team Draft Report:

    In this section, we take a deeper look at specific teams and where they stand in regards to the 2023 NFL Draft.

    Houston Texans:
    Even though they tied the Colts, there is no team in the NFL that might further way from winning a championship than the Houston Texans. The Texans are dealing with the devastation that was inflicted on the franchise by former head coach Bill O’Brien. I could write a long book on how O’Brien’s temper and ego ruined the franchise, but we all know those mistakes and don’t need to review recent history. O’Brien had one of the best scouting staffs and rosters in the NFL, but O’Brien squandered it and decimated Houston’s front office and roster. New general manager Nick Cesario has a huge rebuilding project on his hands.

    In my latest mock 2023 NFL Draft, I have the Texans taking Alabama quarterback Bryce Young with the No. 1 overall pick. Young could be a Kyler Murray-type quarterback in the NFL thanks to his combination of natural passing ability, mobility, and athleticism. Aside from Young, Houston could consider other potential high first-round franchise quarterback options like Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud, Kentucky’s Will Levis and Florida’s Anthony Richardson. Perhaps Davis Mills will play well enough to remain the starter, but it looks more likely that the Texans will need to find a better replacement for Deshaun Watson.

    After taking a quarterback, I have the franchise taking a wide receiver in LSU’s Kayshon Boutte to help the new quarterback. The Texans has some decent receivers, but they need a true No. 1. The top receivers for Houston to consider would be TCU’s Quentin Johnston or Ohio State’s Jaxon Smith-Njigba. Who is available at this pick will depend on how many losses the Browns have this season because the Texans have Cleveland’s first-round pick.

    Another strategy Houston could consider would be taking Alabama edge rusher Will Anderson high in the first round and then taking a quarterback with its second selection. The Texans badly need a difference maker for their defense, where they have not found an adequate replacement for J.J. Watt or Jadeveon Clowney.

    Houston has lots of other needs to address like defensive tackle, linebacker, and help on the offensive line. If Laremy Tunsil leaves in the offseason, the team will need a new left tackle as well.

    The Texans have a lot of needs and holes on their roster that they will have to address to become a playoff contender again. This should not be the state of things in Houston, but owner Cal McNair made the catastrophic decision to turn the franchise over to Bill O’Brien, and it will take years of rebuilding to fix the damage done by O’Brien.

    Los Angeles Rams:
    The Rams were embarrassed on the opening night of the season, getting blown out by Buffalo, but they will rebound. They have elite talents on both sides of the ball and excellent coaching, so after a rough start, it would be a huge shock if the Rams fell apart. Los Angeles is without its first-round pick from the Matthew Stafford trade, but they have not had a first-round pick since taking Jared Goff at the top of the 2016 NFL Draft. Currently, the Rams have a second-round pick, but given the track record of Les Snead, it would not be a shock if that gets traded during this season for a veteran who can help Los Angeles right away.

    Perhaps the biggest need on the franchise’s roster could prove to be a new left tackle. Andrew Whitworth retired, and Los Angeles really missed him, with Von Miller and A.J. Epenesa recording multiple sacks in the season opener. It could be hard to land a starting left tackle in the second round, but there could be candidates like Maryland’s Jaelyn Duncan, Miami’s Zion Nelson, or Oklahoma’s Anton Harrison.

    In my latest mock 2023 NFL Draft, I have the Rams taking Pittsburgh defensive end Habakkuk Baldonado, and he would make sense as a replacement for Von Miller. Josh Allen ripped up the Los Angeles defense, and adding an rusher to go with Aaron Donald and Leonard Floyd would help the Los Angeles pass defense.

    Another position that was exposed by the Bills was cornerback, where the Rams could use more help to go with Jalen Ramsey. Some cornerbacks for them to consider in the second round of the 2023 NFL Draft include Penn State’s Joey Porter Jr., Illinois’ Devon Witherspoon, North Carolina’s Storm Duck, Alabama’s Brian Branch and Mississippi State’s Emmanuel Forbes. All of those corners would be good fits for Raheem Morris’ defense.

    Aside from offensive tackle and edge rusher, the Rams could consider more help along the interior offensive line, at linebacker, and possibly a running back, depending on how Darrell Henderson and Cam Akers perform this year.

    It would be a complete shock if the Rams didn’t rally and get into the playoff race. Perhaps they will use their second-round pick to bolster their roster this season, but if they don’t, they should use the pick for some young talent who could contribute at a position of need in 2023.

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