Draft’s depth should help NFL teams fill needs

Published 3:00 am Thursday, May 8, 2014

Jim Walker



It’s well known that football teams need depth, so NFL teams should like this draft.

The first round of the NFL draft airs at 8 p.m. on ESPN tonight and local draft expect Bart Burcham said teams can fill plenty of needs well into the later rounds.

“I think in this draft teams can get guys in the first four rounds who can play for you right away,” said Burcham.

“There’s some depth, but I like four guys in this draft a lot. There are three more I like pretty well, but the main four I like are going to be really, really good.”

Burcham’s “Fab Four” are South Carolina defensive lineman Jadevon Clowney, Clemson wide receiver Sammy Watkins, Buffalo linebacker back Khalil Mack and quarterback Johnny Manziel.

The next top three players are Texas A&M wide receiver Mike Evans, Michigan State cornerback Darqueze Dennard and Pittsburgh defensive tackle Aaron Donald.

Here is Burcham’s predictions for the first round:

1. Houston: Clowney. Watching his film, when he locks in, he can make plays.

2. St. Louis: The Rams can go any direction. They have the No. 2 and No. 13 picks. Manziel or Watkins won’t surprise me, but I’ll go with OT Greg Robinson, Auburn.

3. Jacksonville: This could be Watkins, but they have no face on their offense and they love Manziel and that should be their pick. They have to draft the best players they can not worry about certain positions.

4. Cleveland: They should take Manziel if he’s there. If not, they take Watkins unless Detroit trades up to get him.

5. Oakland: They need a wide receiver, but I think that Mack is too good to pass up.

6. Atlanta: They would like to trade up or hope Mack or Clowney fall. If that fails, they take OT Jake Matthews of Texas A&M.

7. Tampa Bay: They’ll be better and they signed a bunch of free agents. They want to trade up and get Manziel, but they take Evans.

8. Minnesota: They have to stay with Matt Cassell and Christian Ponder at quarterback. They look to build the defense back up so they take Donald.

9. Buffalo: This will be offensive line or TE Eric Ebron, North Carolina.

10. Detroit: CB Justin Gilbert, Oklahoma State. Not the most physical, but a great kick returner and defender. He’s a playmaker.

11. Tennessee: Dennard. He’s my favorite corner. He’s not as fast as Gilbert, but he’s much more physical.

12. New York Giants: They go for OT Taylor Lewan, Michigan. He’s the third best tackle in the draft.

13. St. Louis: They go receiver here with Odell Beckham Jr., LSU.

14. Chicago: They take S Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Alabama.

15. Pittsburgh: I expect them to take a corner, Kyle Fuller, Virginia Tech. He’s a physical guy.

16. Dallas: They have to take something on defense, so it’s S Calvin Pryor, Louisville.

17. Baltimore: They signed some wide receivers, so this will be offensive line. OT Zack Martin, Notre Dame. He could go to the Steelers or Giants.

18. New York Jets: This is me picking, not the Jets. I like WR Brandin Cooks, Oregon State. He’s pretty good and very fast.

19. Miami: They would love Martin to fall here, but with no clear-cut lineman they take LB C.J. Mosley, Alabama.

20. Arizona: QB Derek Carr. Carson Palmer is 35 and they take the next best QB available.

21. Green Bay: They take LB Ryan Shazier, Ohio State. They were thin at linebacker and pass rushers last year. He won’t be a main player, but he’ll be a playmaker.

22. Philadelphia: Since they got rid of DeSean Jackson, they take WR Kelvin Benjamin, Florida State.

23. Kansas City: They take WR Marqise Lee, Southern Cal. He’s a playmaker.

24. Cincinnati: They may take a defensive end, but their corners are getting old so they take CB Jason Verrett, TCU.

25. San Diego: OLB Anthony Barr, UCLA. The Chargers have a bunch of good guys, but no great guy. They need a pass rusher and he’s the best guy available.

26. Cleveland: This is hard to determine. It will be either QB Blake Bortles or QB Teddy Bridgewater. I’m leaning toward Bortles.

27. New Orleans: It could be receiver, but they take DE Dee Ford, Auburn.

28. Carolina: They need offensive line, but they have to go wide receiver. For this spot in the draft, I like WR Jordan Mathews, Vanderbilt.

29. New England: They need a defensive lineman, so they take Stephon Tuitt, Notre Dame.

30: San Francisco: This could be anything because they have a bunch of picks. Make it WR Codey Latimer, Indiana.

31. Denver: They take a lineman either offense or defense. Go with defense: DL Ra’Shade Hageman, Minnesota.

32. Seattle: The Seahawks can take the best available player. They go receiver with Davante Adams, Fresno State.