2014 NFL Draft Mailbag

I received many e-mails and tweets about my 2014 NFL Mock Draft and the upcoming NFL Draft in general. To share the answers to the questions publicly, I decided to start up a mailbag column. Pass along your NFL draft questions and comments. I’ll put together a mailbag periodically that answers questions/comments sent via email [email protected] or on Twitter @draftcampbell.


From The Big Papa, Mississippi

“I am a huge Jags fan and was so excited when we traded up to the tenth pick in the 2011 NFL Draft because I thought we were going to get JJ Watt. Instead we got Blaine Gabbert. You and Walter both have us taking Boyd from Clemson instead of Clowney. I think Boyd is a fine player but I would hate for us to pass up on a stud pass rusher like we did before. Our pass rush has been hurting ever since Stroud and Henderson left and they’re are good QBs that we can get in the 2nd round so why do u think we should waste an opportunity on Clowney to draft another QB.”

That’s a great question and will be debated for years to come if Clowney turns into the player everybody expects him to be. I think you can make a strong argument for taking Clowney over a signal-caller, however the NFL is a quarterback-driven league and it is impossible to win without a good quarterback. If the Jaguars are in a position to draft a franchise quarterback or Clowney, I think they have to take the quarterback.

Jacksonville can land a good pass-rusher via other routes. Teams can get good pass-rushers on the second day of the draft or in free agency, but it is nearly impossible to land a franchise quarterback outside of a first-round pick.

At the same time, if the Jaguars take Clowney and land a second-rounder who becomes a Colin Kaepernick- or Drew Brees-like steal, they’ll be set up for greatness. That scenario could be feasible with the 2014 NFL Draft considering the depth of the quarterback class. A.J. McCarron, Bryn Renner, Derek Carr, David Fales are all players to consider. There also could be some intriguing young draft-eligible sophomore signal-callers like Brett Hundley, Kevin Hogan or Marcus Mariota.

It is all going to depend on if Jacksonville is convinced that it has a franchise quarterback available at its first pick. If the Jaguars have doubts that any of the quarterbacks are that caliber, they should take Clowney. But if they believe one of the quarterbacks is a true franchise quarterback, then they have to take that guy and aim to get some pass-rushers elsewhere.

From Caleb, Washington State

“I was wondering how much you think Vanderdoes being declared eligible to play for UCLA this year will affect other guys who are draft eligible such as Anthony Barr. Do you think he will help others on the defense shine or will he take a chunk out of their stats and hurt their draft stock as a result of him playing? ”

I don’t think having defensive lineman Eddie Vanderdoes will hurt the draft stock for Anthony Barr. First of all, Vanderdoes is a freshman who has to earn playing time over more experienced players. Most freshmen need time to adjust to college football, even highly touted recruits.

Even if Vanderdoes bucks the trend and makes a big splash a la Jadeveon Clowney, I don’t think he would take away stats from Barr. Clowney didn’t take away numbers from Melvin Ingram. If anything I think having more good talent around Barr would help him considering all the double-teams that will be sent his direction. If Cassius Marsh and Vanderdoes can command attention, it should help Barr. UCLA has good talent on both sides of the ball and is well coached, so the Bruins should be a fun team to watch this year.

From Pepe DeJesus, San Diego, California

“Who are your picks for offensive and defensive rookie of the year? I like Te’o.”

That’s a tough call, especially on the defensive side of the ball. I definitely think Te’o is in the running. The voters have a preference towards linebackers because they rack up big tackle totals. Te’o definitely could keep the trend alive.

The top candidates in my mind are Jets cornerback Dee Milliner, Lions defensive end Ezekiel Ansah, Panthers defensive tackle Star Lotulelei, Falcons cornerback Desmond Trufant, Colts outside linebacker Bjoern Werner, Packers defensive end Datone Jones, Ravens safety Matt Elam and Te’o. I’m going to go with Elam. I think the Ravens’ defense will put him in a lot of situations for success, and he’s going to surprise people with his play-making skills. A lot of people don’t realize that Elam was one of the best defensive players in the SEC last year. I think he’ll produce a nice stat line of tackles, passes broken up, interceptions and forced fumbles.

On the offensive side of the ball, it comes down to Rams wide receiver Tavon Austin, Texans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins and Bengals running back Giovani Bernard. My pick is Hopkins. He’s been impressing in Houston’s practices all summer and is improving every day. I think the Texans are going to throw the ball to him a lot and there will be a lot of favorable matchups for him with defenses focusing on Andre Johnson and the running game with Arian Foster. I wouldn’t be surprised if Hopkins goes well over 1,000 yards as a rookie.

From Malcolm Ambrose, Charlotte, North Carolina

“Charlie, it seems like every year there are some surprise playoff teams. I like the Panthers to do that this year and I think everybody is sleeping on them. Do you agree the Panthers could make the playoffs? Who do you think could be the surprise playoff teams?”

I remember getting this question a year ago and I responded with the Washington Redskins. To me, it was clear that the Redskins were ready to win but just needed a quarterback. They certainly landed that with Robert Griffin III and made me look good my fulfilling my prediction.

I do think that Carolina is a sleeper team that could contend for the playoffs. I think the Panthers’ front seven on defense is going to be excellent and will keep the team in a lot of games. I think Cam Newton is going to improve and Carolina’s receivers aren’t as bad as they’re made out to be. I think the Panthers’ season comes down to the secondary improving drastically and being able to run the ball consistently. If Carolina can do that I could see the team being a surprise playoff contender.

Right now, there are a lot of teams in the NFC I like as a surprise playoff team. The Lions, Bears and Rams are my top contenders. If I have to pick one, I’ll go with Detroit. I think the Lions have a lot of elite talent on both sides of the ball and are poised to have a bounce-back season. To me, it all depends on if Riley Reiff can play well enough at left tackle.

My surprise team in the AFC would be the Dolphins. Ryan Tannehill played a lot better last year than people realize. His supporting cast was awful. I know coaches around the league who like Tannehill a lot and think he’s going to be a quality quarterback. The Miami defense has some talent and I think the team is well coached. The AFC looks wide open and I like the Dolphins to win a wild card this season.

From twitter Christopher Curtis, @christupherrrr

“How do you feel about Badgers ILB Chris Borland? And what round of the 2014 NFL Draft do you see him being drafted in?”

I think Borland is a perfect middle linebacker for the Big Ten. He is a physical, hard-nosed run-defender who is a load in-the-tackle box. It looks like his best fit in the NFL would be as a thumper inside linebacker on the inside of a 3-4 defense. Borland isn’t a run and chase inside linebacker, so I don’t think he would be a good fit in the middle of a 4-3 defense in the NFL.

The 5-foot-11, 248-pounder has the bulk to defend the run, but is shorter than coaches prefer in pass coverage. I’m not sure how he will do defending the middle seam in pass defense against the dangerous receiving tight ends.

After totaling 247 tackles the past two seasons, Borland clearly can defend the run. The senior needs to show the ability this year to be a good pass-defender to help his draft stock. I think he could be a situational NFL linebacker who comes off the field in passing downs. Borland could develop as a backup and should be a good special teams contributor during that time. I currently have him in the Round 4-6 range on the third day of the 2014 NFL Draft.

From Michael McHugh, Houston, Texas

“Love your content, especially the color commentary for your mocks and fantasy football rankings – my favorite forums for debating prospects for the upcoming drafts and fantasy sleepers with other avid fans. Had some thoughts on the Cowboys 2014 Mock Draft because the picks look pre-Tampa 2 switch and pre-2013 draft where needs at safety and 3-4 OLB would’ve been greater…


Monte Kiffin and Rod Marinelli are implementing a Tampa-2. Demarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer currently form the smallest 4-3 DE pair in the league. I don’t think the Cowboys are drafting a 240 lb, 3-4 OLB as talented as Attaochu may be in Round 2 or any round for that matter as an imminent heir for Spencer, who seems less and less likely to return next year after failing to agree on a long-term deal under the franchise tag.

As much as I liked HaHa last year and feel sure he’ll jump out even more this year as a top safety picked in Round 1, something would have to go very wrong this year for safety to overshadow the talent overhaul on OL or youth movement on DL for the Cowboys. Cowboys wouldn’t have designated last year’s 4th rounder Matt Johnson as IR (designated for return) without a game under his belt if they didn’t believe in his upside at one of the safety positions. Plus, JJ Wilcox played one year of safety at Georgia Southern before they took him in Round 3 this year. With his high draft position and obvious learning curve, the Cowboys are committed to Wilcox for more than one year while he continues to learn the position and turns heads in OTAs.

Besides both sides of the line, I wouldn’t be surprised if RB or an heir apparent at QB snuck as high as Round 2 for the Cowboys. Demarco hasn’t proven healthy enough to be leaned on for an entire season, and Romo’s contract structure is going to create options for the team in 2-3 years if someone on the roster’s ready to take the reins Rodgers- or Kaepernick-style. Leave it to Jerry & Co. to find a way to draft a player at position of need from the Big 12 or SEC West with one of his first three picks as he’s done the last 5 years – possibly OT Cyrus Kouandijo, OT Jake Matthews, RB Lache Seastrunk, OG Gabe Jackson, DE Jackson Jeffcoat, or OG Cyril Richardson. I’d mock one at least one of them in the first two rounds to the Cowboys even if HaHa is SEC West because I think odds are safety won’t be a pressing need.”

Thanks for the email, Michael.

I understand your points and I think you make a lot of good ones. I hadn’t thought of a running back after they drafted Joseph Randle, but that makes sense if Murray continues to get injured. I agree on the offensive line completely. Right now, it is harder to peg whether that pick would be a right tackle or a guard, or if Frederick finds a home at guard, maybe a center.

I think you’re on the money as far as HaHa Clinton-Dix. If J.J. Wilcox and others play well, Dallas won’t need to draft a safety early. Plus while in Tampa Bay, Kiffin always developed mid-round safeties into starters.

I worked with Kiffin during his last year with the Bucs and have spoken to him some since he left Tampa Bay. In his last two years with the Bucs, he experimented with some rush-linebacker packages using former Bucs linebacker Quincy Black. Kiffin barely used that package before leaving for Tennessee, but he used some of that at USC and I think he could do that with a player like Attaochu in Dallas.

Kiffin will adapt his scheme to what his players do well. For example, the Bucs played a lot more man coverage than people realize, especially in the Super Bowl year and the years following when he had Brian Kelly and Ronde Barber at corner. Plus, Attaochu moved from outside linebacker to defensive end this spring. It’ll be interesting to see what his weight is listed at in a few weeks.

I definitely think the Cowboys will have to add some youth for their defensive line for Kiffin. I’ve had Dallas taking Trent Murphy and Anthony Johnson in other mocks. The Cowboys’ evolution on defense should be fun to watch this season.

Once again send questions/comments via email [email protected] or on Twitter @draftcampbell.

2014 NFL Draft Mailbag Archive:

2014 NFL Draft Mailbag - April 21
2014 NFL Draft Mailbag - March 23
2014 NFL Draft Mailbag - Aug. 5
2014 NFL Draft Mailbag - July 22
2014 NFL Draft Mailbag - July 9
2014 NFL Draft Mailbag - June 26
2014 NFL Draft Mailbag - June 2
2014 NFL Draft Mailbag - May 16

2024 NFL Mock Draft - April 16

NFL Power Rankings - Feb. 22

Fantasy Football Rankings - Feb. 19

NFL Picks - Feb. 12