San Francisco 49ers: Complete 7-Round Mock Draft
San Francisco 49ers: Complete 7-Round Mock Draft
With question marks regarding the Jim Harbaugh trade and rumors of his rift with the San Francisco 49ers' front office looming, May's NFL Draft can't come soon enough. It's a significantly more uplifting subject for fans, and the Niners are in a great position to stockpile even more talent with five picks in the first three rounds.
General manager Trent Baalke, who has already helped build one of the NFL's deepest rosters, has some very difficult decisions to make. Will the Niners decide to address their need for another strong wide receiver with their first-round pick? Does it make more sense to try and add depth at corner, where the status of both Tarell Brown and Carlos Rogers remains up in the air? Brown is an unrestricted free agent, while league sources expect the 49ers to ask Rogers to take a big pay cut. The Niners will also look to add depth on both the offensive and defensive lines.
Another subplot of this year's draft is that with the expected departure of center Jonathan Goodwin, there will be no remaining players from Michigan, Stanford or USD. Harbaugh was asked recently about the absence of Stanford players in particular on the Niners. It seems that familiarity doesn't hold much value for Harbaugh, but with the tension between he and Baalke, will Harbaugh be cut out entirely from the draft process this year?
Without further delay, let's take a look at a complete seven-round mock draft for the San Francisco 49ers.
First Round, No. 30 Overall Pick: WR Brandin Cooks, Oregon State
The 49ers will likely have quite a few options at wide receiver if they do choose to select one in the first round. Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry of LSU are some, and there's a chance that Florida State's Kelvin Benjamin will still be on the board. But, I like Brandin Cooks out of Oregon State. The 2013 Biletnikoff Award winner showed remarkable elusiveness and pass-catching ability in college, and his recently clocked 4.33 second 40-yard-dash will only improve his already high draft stock. That type of speed would add an entirely new dimension to the Niners' offense, and would do wonders to stretch the field. Stretching the field will not only give Michael Crabtree and Anquan Boldin more room to operate underneath, it'll also provide a boost to the already-stellar running game. Cooks' height is his biggest downside, but he has the potential to be a transcendent talent at the next level.
Second Round Pick, No. 56 Overall (Via Kansas City): CB Lamarcus Joyner, Florida State
Cornerback Lamarcus Joyner enters the NFL Draft after a national championship winning season at Florida State where he was a first team All-American. The 5-foot-8, 184 pound corner also led the team in sacks and was second in tackles while regularly lining up against the opposing team's top wideout. If Joyner was a bit taller he'd have the makings of a first round pick, as he's been lauded for his physicality and natural instincts on the field. NFL.com describes him as having an, "exceptional work ethic and leadership traits. Respected, vocal team leader with an infectious attitude that can unite a locker room." Beyond size, his biggest noted downsides are his tight hips and occasional problems in one-on-one coverage.
Second Round Pick, No. 61 Overall: C Weston Richburg, Colorado State
This selection is dependent on whether or not current center Jonathan Goodwin re-signs with the team, but at this point all signs point to his retirement. If he doesn't retire, he'll likely consider joining his brother Harold in Arizona, who is the team's offensive coordinator. So assuming Goodwin isn't retained, the Niners will need to fill his big shoes in the middle of the offensive line. The importance of this position can't be minimized, and Weston Richburg could be the answer. He's the No. 2-ranked center in the draft by CBS Sports, who describe him as having a "powerful, square frame to handle bull rushers and good initial quickness and overall athleticism to block on the move. Good upper body strength to move the defensive tackle and has the balance and quickness to turn and seal his opponent from the action." He also started all 49 games of his college career, which speaks directly to his durability.
Third Round Pick, No. 77 Overall (Via Tennessee): FS Ed Reynolds, Stanford
It's time for the 49ers to add a Stanford product to the fold, and free safety Ed Reynolds would be a great addition to the team. Selecting a safety in the third round may not be necessary if the Niners are able to resign free agent Donte Whitner, but having depth at the position is key. Reynolds has a great build at 6-foot-2, 205 pounds and is renowned for his physical style of play. His length and physicality would be a great fit in the Niners' secondary. CBS Sports describe him as a "Force in run defense. Savvy defender and reliable open-field tackler. Breaks down well in space and delivers a pop on contact, often driving ballcarriers back." One noted weakness is his penchant for targeting; remind you of a particular current Niners safety?
Third Round Pick, No. 94 Overall: QB A.J. McCarron, Alabama
The Niners have very little depth at quarterback beyond Colin Kaepernick, and 2013 backup Colt McCoy is unlikely to resign with the team. Due to Kaepernick's willingness to take off with the football, his risk of serious injury is naturally heightened. What does this mean for the Niners front office? It means that they have to mitigate risk, and the potential for the Niners' 2014 season to implode on one play has to have them horrified. A.J. McCarron could be the reliable backup that they so desperately need. Aside from being a proven winner at the college level, McCarron was described by one scout at the NFL Combine as the most NFL-ready quarterback in attendance. While he'd surely like the chance to compete for a starting job, this would be a good value pick in the latter half of the third round.
Fourth Round Pick, No. 125 Overall: OT James Hurst, North Carolina
Prior to breaking his leg in his final college football game at North Carolina, offensive tackle James Hurst was a projected second or third round draft pick. With the Niners' depth on the offensive line, they have the ability to bring in someone like Hurst who may not be in tip-top shape for the 2014 season. Similar to Marcus Lattimore in 2013, they could essentially redshirt him for a year and allow him to get acquainted with life in the NFL. A five-star recruit out of high school, CBS Sports describes him as, "Tall with a barrel chest and silo body frame. Good push in the run game with strong hands and limbs to jolt at the point of attack, extending well. Stays light on his feet when pulling with heady awareness to pick up defenders in motion." Hurst would be a great value pick at No. 125 overall.
Fifth Round Pick, No. 158 Overall: OG Brandon Thomas, Clemson
After addressing the need for depth at tackle in the previous round of this mock, it would make sense to turn to the guard position in the following round. Brandon Thomas is a formidable presence at 6-foot-3, 317 pounds and could serve as a quality backup. Daniel Kilgore has shown flashes of potential, but the importance of depth at this spot can't be understated. He's also fairly versatile, and can tackle as well as guard. He was also voted as one of Clemson's team captains this past season, and drew praise from scouts and fans alike for his head-to-head performance against Jadeveon Clowney.
Sixth Round Pick, No. 189 Overall: DT George Uko, USC
Another Ed Orgeron-trained interior defensive lineman, George Uko shifted between playing defensive end and defensive tackle at USC. It's become clear that Aldon Smith depends on solid interior pressure and disruption to dominate off the edge, and filling the massive shoes of Justin Smith in a few years has to be on the minds of everyone in the front office. Last year's second round pick Tank Carradine has reportedly been developing rapidly at the position and is projected to earn significant playing time in 2014, but again depth is the name of the game when it comes to the lines. Uko is thought to need development, and this would be an ideal scenario for him to develop at a comfortable pace.
Seventh Round Pick, No. 218 Overall (Via New Orleans): OLB Kevin Pierre-Louis, Boston College
Even if you just passively follow the NFL in the offseason, you probably heard about Jadeveon Clowney's 4.53 40-yard-dash at the NFL Combine. While he chose to forgo cone drills, his straight-line speed was faster than the majority of wide receivers and running backs. One of the two linebackers who clocked in at a faster time than Clowney was Kevin Pierre-Louis of Boston College. At 232 pounds with speed like that, Pierre-Louis has the potential to be a major contributor in the NFL. With Navorro Bowman likely sidelined for the first half of the 2014 season, adding a late-round linebacker with major upside would be a great move.
Seventh Round Pick, No. 219 Overall (Via Carolina): RB De'Anthony Thomas, Oregon
In the seventh round of the draft, NFL teams can afford to take risks. If they do swing and miss in the draft's final round it's not typically considered a big mistake by franchises. De'Anthony Thomas' enormous upside and explosive athleticism make him well worth the risk, and if he does pan out he could add a new dimension to the Niners' offense. Aside from using him on punt and kick returns, Thomas could be deployed as a hybrid type of weapon that could be consistently used on screens and reverses. He's an absolute nightmare to tackle in the open field, and his upside isn't far off of what Percy Harvin was for the Seahawks in the Super Bowl. There are major injury concerns around him, but again the Niners' overall depth give them the luxury of taking on players who fall into that category.
Seventh Round Pick, No. 222 Overall (Via Indianapolis): WR Tevin Reese, Baylor
Baylor has sent a ton of wide receiver talent to the NFL in recent years, with Josh Gordon and Terrence Williams highlighting the bunch. Rumor has it that Tevin Reese is the fastest receiver Art Briles has coached in his tenure at the school, which has to make him an appealing choice for the 49ers if he's still on the board late in the seventh round. Nicknamed "Sweet Feet", 22 of Reese's 25 collegiate touchdowns were on plays of 40 yards or more. The reason he's projected as a seventh round pick is his poor route-running ability and penchant for dropping passes. Like Thomas, he'd be worth the risk in the seventh round.