Linemen expected to dominate NFL draft
The NFL draft could just be an alias. It may be the second coming of the trade deadline.
When teams go on the clock Thursday night in New York, local NFL draft handicapper Bart Burcham said fans can look for a flurry of trades.
“It’s going to be hard to had any kind of a mock draft. There have been a bunch of trades before now and there are all kinds of trades in the works,” said Burcham.
Quarterbacks are usually the focus of attention, but this year’s crop is slim and weak. Southern Cal’s Matt Barkley is the best on the board even though WVU’s Geno Smith has been getting a lot of attention.
“Smith played well in good weather, but he never did well when the weather elements were bad,” said Burcham. “Someone may trade up and take a quarterback, but the quarterbacks in this year’s draft are not really first round picks.”
Burcham said this year’s draft is top heavy with talented offensive linemen and pass rushers.
“You might have one quarterback and one running back go in the first round, but most of the skilled players will go in the second and third rounds,” said Burcham.
Trades aside, here are Burcham’s first round predictions:
1. Kansas City: The Chiefs want to trade, but they go with Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M.
2. Jacksonville: The Jaguars always draft a pass rusher. They take Ezekiel Ansah, DE, Brigham Young.
3. Oakland: The Raiders needs are many. Look for them to pick Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida. They have to stop the run.
4. Philadelphia: New coach Chip Kelly may go with one of the players he recruited, but it could be anyone. Look for Kelly to take Dion Jordan, DE-OLB, Oregon.
5. Detroit: The Lions need OL, DE and CB. They take the second best player in the draft, OT Eric Fisher of Central Michigan. He’s nasty and he mauls people.
6. Cleveland: Look for the Browns to swap with No. 11 San Diego. If not, the go with Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame. The Browns haven’t had a good tight end since Ozzie Newsome. The second option is Jordan if he’s still on the board.
7. Arizona: They need everything. The pick is OT Lane Johnson, Oklahoma. San Diego wants to trade up and get him at Cleveland’s spot.
8. Buffalo: This could be OL and DB, but the new coaches are from Syracuse and they go back to their ties and take quarterback Ryan Nassib.
9. N.Y. Jets: They go for a pass rusher Barkevious Mingo, LSU, DE-OLB.
10. Tennessee: Dee Milliner, DB, Alabama. The Titans need a lot on defense and they take a chance.
11. San Diego: OL Jonathan Cooper, OL, North Carolina. He’s the next best lineman on the board.
12. Miami: They lost Jake Long to free agency, so they’d like to trade up for a defensive lineman. But they take Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama.
13. N.Y. Jets (from Tampa Bay): Tavon Austin, WR. West Virginia. The Jets desperately need a wide receiver.
14. Carolina: The Panthers defensive tackles are bad, so the pick is Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah.
15. New Orleans: D.J. Fluker, OT, Alabama. He’s just another of the reason Alabama is so good on offense.
16. St. Louis: They need RB, S, and WR. They have a couple of picks close, so this one is Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas.
17. Pittsburgh: The Steelers need a WR and eventually a RB, but they take Jarvis Jones, LB, Georgia.
18. Dallas: Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri. He had a big game against Alabama that proved he can play.
19. N.Y. Giants: Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington. He has some size and he can run.
20. Chicago: Alec Ogletree, MLB, Georgia. He’s a beast. He fills the void left by Brian Urlacher.
21. Cincinnati: Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee. He’s big, strong and fast and can get downfield. They need a stretch guy.
22. St. Louis (from Washington): Eddie Lacy, RB, Alabama. They got rid of Steven Jackson to Atlanta. They may opt for a WR.
23. Minnesota: The Vikings need a receiver, but they go defense. Sylvester Williams, DT, North Carolina. He’s a great pass rusher.
24. Indianapolis: Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State. They need help in the secondary.
25. Minnesota (from Seattle): Manti Te’o, MLB, Notre Dame. The Vikings need a middle linebacker and he can play.
26. Green Bay: Matt Elam, S, Florida. They lost a couple of defensive backs and he’s the next best S behind Vaccaro.
27. Houston: They go OL or WR. They take WR Robert Woods from Southern Cal.
28. Denver: Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State. Their offensive is pretty good, so they need to shore up the defense.
29. New England: This could be anything including a trade for more picks. They take WR Keenan Allen from Cal. He has speed and a good downfield receiver.
30. Atlanta: They need TE and OL, so they go with Kyle Long, OL, Oregon. He can play G now and he can move out to OT.
31. San Francisco: 49ers can take the best player on the board and they go with Zach Ertz, TE, Stanford.
32. Baltimore: The Ravens kept their offense in tact, but they need a lot on defense. They go with John Cyprien, S, Florida International. He has the tools and he’s a hitter.