Depth of NFL Draft in question

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 25, 2008

No mater who is handicapping the first round of the NFL draft this year, they’ll all be guaranteed of getting at least one pick right.

With the Miami Dolphins signing of Michigan offensive tackle Jake Long already accomplished, draft gurus can move toward the No. 2 selection as they attempt to foresee into the minds of NFL war rooms.

Local expert Bart Burcham, who annually beats the Mel Kipers and Todd McShays in number of correct first round selections, says this year’s draft is not as talented or as deep as recent years.

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“If you’re looking for pieces, you’re going to get some help. There’s only five or six guys who are going to make an impact,” said Burcham.

“There’s some good offensive linemen depth, corners, and receivers. But as far as real skilled players, it’s kind of thin.”

With that in mind, here are the predictions:

1. Miami: Jake Long, OT, Michigan. In the fold.

2. St. Louis: It’ll be Chris Long or Glenn Dorsey. Either one won’t surprise me, but I’ll go with Long, DE, Virginia.

3. Atlanta: It’s between Dorsey, DT, LSU, or Boston College QB Matt Ryan. If St. Louis takes Dorsey, they’ll take Ryan. If not, they take Dorsey.

4. Oakland: They need a bunch. The defense needs some playmakers and Al Davis loves Arkansas RB Darren McFadden.

5. Kansas City: Chris Long if he’s still there. If he’s gone, they’ll take Braden Albert, Virginia guard.

6. N.Y. Jets: Thye might take Ryan, but it’ll probably be Ohio State DE Vernon Gholston who fits into their system.

7. New England: Gholston if he’s there, but their linebackers are getting older so it’ll probably be Keith Rivers, OLB, USC.

8. Baltimore: This is another if situation. If Ryan is there, they take him. If not, the Ravens go for Sedrick Ellis, DT, USC.

9. Cincinnati: Sedrick Ellis if he’s still there, but if not they may trade down or take OL Ryan Clady, Boise State.

10. New Orleans: They’d love to trade up to get Dorsey. If not they need a corner and it could be Mike Jenkins, CB, South Florida.

11. Buffalo: Their needs are plenty, but they go for WR Devin Thomas, Michigan State.

12. Denver: They usually throw a curveball every year. They need offensive line help so they’ll take Chris Williams, OT, of Vanderbilt.

13. Carolina: They need OL or DL. The pick is Jeff Otah, OT, Pitt.

14. Chicago: Either OT or RB, so they take the best left. The pick is whatever offensive tackle is available or possibly Illinois RB Rashard Mendenhall.

15. Detroit: They need a running back and they want Mendenhall.

16. Arizona: This could be a RB, but I think it’s CB Leodis McKelvin of Troy.

17. Kansas City (from Minnesota): Trade their best DE, so they’ll come back with Derrick Harvey of Florida.

18. Houston: Cornerback is the most pressing need, so it’s Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie of Tennessee State.

19. Philadelphia: IT could be DB or WR, so the pick is Aqib Talib of Kansas.

20. Tampa Bay: Biggest need is WR, so go with the fastest receiver in the draft, James Hardy, Indiana.

21. Washington: They can use a WR, CB, or DE. This is where Philip Merling of Clemson.

22. Dallas: They took care of CB needs with Pacman Jones, so they need a receiver or running back. They take RB Felix Jones of Arkansas.

23. Pittsburgh: They need OL most of all, DL and WR and RB. They’d love to take an offensive lineman, but it’s Kentwan Balmer, DE, of North Carolina.

24. Tennessee: DeSean Jackson, WR, Cal, is a playmaker and an excellent return man.

25. Seattle: The biggest need is tight end. It’ll be Dustin Keller of Purdue.

26. Jacksonville: This cold be any defensive lineman. The pick is Calais Campbell of Miami.

27. San Diego: They need a backup for LaDainian Tomlinson, so Jonathan Stewart, RB, of Oregon.

28. Dallas: They come back with WR Limas Sweed of Texas.

29. San Francisco: Jerod Mayo, ILB, Tennessee. Linebacker is a need. They need to build the defense.

30. Green Bay: Brandon Flowers, CB, Virginia Tech. Their corners are great, but they’re getting older so they need depth.

31. N.Y. Giants: Kenny Phillips, S, of Miami, unless Mayo drops to here.