San Francisco 49ers 2012 Mock Draft: What Experts Around the Web Are Saying
Mike Tanier of the New York Times did a good job running down America’s apparent unending quest to produce a 2012 NFL Mock Draft every 48 seconds.
There’s no doubt that website metric masters see the needle move up and up when “NFL” and “draft” make it into a headline. And let’s face it, the numbers don’t lie. Aside from Tanier’s gentle chiding, there's something about this country and its insatiable thirst for the NFL and more NFL.
The speculative nature of the draft makes for that addictive combination of potential running head long into need, the burners that make interest in America’s game boil.
Of course, the NFL combine does nothing but add to that wishful “what could be.” Big guys in shorts and t-shirts running ungodly times in sprints and agility drills and jumping high and far and generally exhibiting amazing athletic skills seem so promising. But that exercise has very little to do with what it takes to succeed on any NFL Sunday.
That 4.3 time at the combine doesn’t mean much when going against an intent, strong, nearly as fast defender who’d like nothing better than to dislodge that player of the ball and his senses.
It’s the sort of perspective that makes this columnist look warily at what some of the experts have to say about what’s to come to the 49ers on April 26-28.
Mel Kiper, in his infinite wisdom, has the 49ers taking LSU receiver Rueben Randle with the 30th pick. I find that hard to believe in that Randle, though physically gifted, did not have a very good game against Alabama in the BCS Championship Game and has me wondering why many think he’s a first-round pick.
Trent Baalke, the 49ers general manager, isn’t one to reach.
Yes, the Niners need a big-play, big-sized, big-hope receiver, the type of player Alex Smith throws it to even when he’s covered and the guy makes the play. Of course, you can count on your hand how many of those players exist in the NFL. And in that vein, it seems to me that free agency will be better suited to meet this need.
At the same time, there’s a casual disregard for Kiper and his predictions. Just look at this which reviews what he said after the 2011 draft. His initial reaction was to give the Niners a C+ because they didn’t address the quarterback issue very well, in that Colin Kaepernick in the second round was not ready to be a starter. But Kiper had to eat some crow when you read the review of his first grading:
- Aldon Smith surprised Kiper with his talent and ability. Reaction: Duh.
- Chris Culliver and Kendall Hunter obviously turned out better than what Kiper thought. Duh.
- Alex Smith’s resurgence means that Colin Kaepernick didn’t have to be Superman in 2011 or most likely won’t have to be in 2012. Or 2013. He’ll have time to develop a la Aaron Rodgers. Duh, again.
In other words, Kiper didn’t see any of that coming. So why should we take him seriously when he says Randle is the 49ers man?
We don’t. Because Kiper has no idea what goes on in the team meetings and the interviews the 49ers staff has with potential draftees. Just like Kiper had no idea what went on in the practices under the new coaching staff. It was all prognostication based on his views from his home and the fumes from his hairspray.
Jim Harbaugh made Alex Smith efficient; Vic Fangio unleashed a strong, resilient defense and Brad Seely made the 49ers the best in the NFL in all special teams.
Kiper, like many fans, only sees numbers that translate to talent and potential and what a 4.36 40 and good reach means for an 8-8 team. What he is not about is a coach molding a shaken but talented quarterback who has obvious strengths and weaknesses and caters the offense to that dynamic.
Under Harbaugh, the Niners didn’t score much, but they didn’t have to. They got key contributions from the draft picks, and they came within a whisker of making it to the Super Bowl.
In a mock draft dated Dec. 21, 2011, McShay, another ESPN insider, has the Niners taking receiver Kendall Wright of Baylor.
Give McShay credit in that he saw the glaring weakness of the 49ers. But at the same time, it seems that Wright, though having a decent combine, isn’t quite what the Niners have in mind.
He’s fast, but at 5’10” and 190, not quite the big, red zone target they need.
At least it’s realistic.
Well, this site is sort of colorful. And it has the Niners taking Alshon Jeffrey from South Carolina. After all, he’s a receiver. True, Jeffrey is.
Jeffrey is also a potential NFL player who had a picture taken of him in the Gamecock locker room that showed off a prominent gut. And then came into the combine and did fine, but again, his are numbers that suggest he’s great running around in gym shorts and catching footballs with no one around.
But let’s go to this in the third round, where it is posted that defensive end Bruce Irvin will be the Niners selection:
Irwin was inconsistent at West Virginia mainly because he was playing defensive end in a 3 man front. However, at the combine he showed he has the explosiveness and speed to move out to a linebacker spot, and could thrive in a 3-4. San Francisco has one of the best strategist in football in Greg Roman and should have no problem finding a way to get Irvin on the field.
Greg Roman running the offense, and Irvin appearing to be a defensive player suggests that there will be a problem finding a way to get Irvin on the field—or on the team.
Kinda hurts the credibility of all Draftgeek's 49er selections.
There are two mock drafts I checked out, one by Rob Rang and the other by Dane Brugler.
Rang thinks the 49ers have it in for Stephen Hill, the 6’4”, 216-pound receiver out of Georgia Tech. Here’s a rundown of some scouting info on Hill:
A tall, imposing WR with long arms and big hands, Hill was mostly asked to block in Georgia Tech's triple-option offense. As a blocker, Hill is outstanding, consistently locating, controlling, moving, and pancaking smaller DBs, and more than holding his own against LBs. Hill, despite high hips, bends his knees, uses good technique, and has good range and power blocking.
As a wide receiver, Hill was mostly asked to run straight or slant deep go routes. None of his QBs at Georgia Tech were strong armed and, hence, such passes were floated to Hill, many times with a lot of defenders around. Hill was not asked to run a lot of choppy routes, and does not have elite turning ability. Hill demonstrated mostly exceptional ball skills, but will also drop an easy pass now and then.
That leaves the question: what would Hill look like in a downfield passing offense with a strong armed QB? For the answer to that question, we have pre-draft workouts and speculation. Needless to say, Hill could have shocking upside, even Randy Moss upside. That Olympic caliber long jump in high school shows up on tape. Hill can really go get it on deep passes, and has elite top speed.
There are plenty of examples, Matt Jones being perhaps the worst, of receivers being taken in the first round who were greater "projections" than Stephen Hill. Grading Hill from his Georgia Tech data is difficult. Denying his upside is negligent. Hill has first-round upside. Expect Hill to be in high demand for private workouts.
Brugler has the Niners taking Jayron Hosley, a 5'10" corner out of Virginia Tech. Here’s some scouting info on Hosley:
Read and React: Gets better as the game goes on, picking up on small details and learning on the fly -- gets smarter as game progresses. Has very quick reaction skills and does a nice job using his eyes to recognize what the offense wants to do. Makes snap decisions and loves to drive on the ball. Will get caught with his eyes in the backfield at times, allowing the receiver to gain a step.
Man Coverage: A smooth athlete with fluid footwork and excellent quickness out of his breaks to drive on the ball. Has loose hips with above average foot quickness and balance to transition in a flash. Possesses the change of direction ability to be sticky in tight coverage. Will get too hands-on in coverage and his physical nature will attract penalties at the next level. Needs to stay under control through the whistle.
All in all, I find this the best site, one that seems more interested in relaying reliable info based on game performance and stated times and interpretations from people who know the game. Hosley doesn’t seem worth a first-round pick to me. Hill seems a dream. But his upside seems too good that it’s hard to imagine other receiver-needy teams in front of the Niners won’t take him. Still, seems like good analysis.
This site has the Niners taking Stanford tight end Coby Fleener with the 30th pick. Aside from my own prognostication that something like this could happen, it seems plausible on several fronts, many of them listed in the text.
I give him credit there, and it seems like a good idea. Who knows if it could happen?
Walter Football runs down some other picks, listed below, followed by my reaction:
Round 2: Josh Robinson, CB KR Central Florida
Says it doesn’t look like Carlos Rogers will be signed? Why?
Round 3: Tony Bergstrom, OG, Utah.
Could be. There might be others, though.
Round 4: David Molk, C, Michigan.
Seems plausible because it lists 49er center Jonathan Goodwin turning 34. Goodwin does turn 34. Good point.
All in all, not bad.
Tim Hudson is listed as the Niners correspondent. He has Dwayne Allen, the 6’5” tight end out of Clemson going to the Niners. It seems to be a pick based very much on the multiple tight end formula that was so successful for Harbaugh at Stanford as well as for the Patriots last season.
Except why would the Niners take Allen, who is no doubt a physically gifted athlete whose pass-catching skills are not as strong as his blocking. The Niners already have a blocking tight end in Nate Bynham. And there’s Delanie Walker, also a good blocker.
If the Niners get a tight end, it’s going to be someone like Fleener—fast, tall, good hands.
Let’s look what else Drafttek has for SF:
Second round: Marvin Jones, WR out of California
6'2", 200, 4.46, noted for massive hand span. Not the deep threat they need. But an improvement. Could be.
Third round: Robert Turbin, RB Utah state, 5'10", 215.
Fourth round: Ryan Steed, CB from Furman.
This site has Reuben Randle going to the 49ers. Like I said above, I don’t see it. But the headline makes a good point: Peyton Manning’s issue could change the whole draft.
But that’s the nature with mock drafts. Lots of things change the drafts—trades, free-agent signings, suspensions (hello, New Orleans) and off-field issues.
That means that they get to be redone ad infinitum. It’s the sort of the thing that must make an NFL general manager shake his head and utter under his breath about the “media” not knowing too much. It’s also something that makes the metric masters at the websites smile.
More mock drafts, please.