Since WalterFootball.com pundit Walter Cherepinsky produced his latest mock last week, I will also grade the picks for the 49ers made on the site by Charlie Campbell, a more recently updated mock (3/26) featured there.
The 49ers have a discernible need at right guard and wide receiver. Apart from those positions, Trent Baalke and the rest of the personnel in the draft-day war room will select based on the best player available.
A simultaneous approach to BPA will address depth concerns and/or future replacement needs at center, cornerback, running back, defensive line, safety and outside linebacker.
Let’s see what they had to say about the matter.
Without further ado, here are my grades for the latest five-round mocks—focusing on the 49ers’ selections, of course.
Fleener in the red zone creates matchup nightmares for opposing defenses.
Coby Fleener (Walter Cherepinsky's Pick)
Walter Cherepinsky decided on Coby Fleener, the 6’6’’ tight end/wide receiver phenom from Stanford.
Fleener’s college productivity and recent pro day have scouts, general managers and head coaches salivating over his potential in an NFL offense. He’s a player that possesses the physical tools requisite for an all-around TE, as well as for playing out wide as a dangerous receiving threat.
For the Niners, he’d provide the downfield and red-zone threat so desperately missing from one of the league’s least efficient unit in 2011. More so, Jim Harbaugh is most equipped to utilize Fleener effectively, since he previously coached the young man for three years at Stanford.
On the other hand, Fleener still ranks as a second-round talent according to multiple evaluators, including New Era Scouting, CBS Sports and ESPN. Another team higher than the 49ers and more desperate for an offensive weapon will also likely select him.
Besides, he qualifies as more of a luxury pick, since the 49ers have a glaring deficiency at right guard. It would be wise for Baalke and Co. to trade down and select a guard or center (who could play the position) early on in the second round.
Nick Perry (Charlie Campbell's Pick)
Charlie Campbell made this selection based on the best player available.
Scouts rank Perry as one of the top-rated defensive ends, landing at No. 9 overall according to one projection.
He played in a 4-3 scheme at USC and tallied a Pac-12-leading 9.5 sacks during his junior year. He’s an extremely fast (unofficial 10-yard time of 1.57), powerful and athletic pass-rusher who also plays well against the run.
Vic Fangio’s 49ers’ defense does not have an immediate need for a pass-rushing OLB. As such, this pick satisfies a depth concern and qualifies as a luxury prospect, as with Fleener.
Perry played mostly in a three-point stance in college, so he would have to make the transition to an upright outside linebacker in the Niners’ 3-4 scheme. He has stated his preference to play as a DE, but the insistence of talent evaluators and the allure of playing in the vaunted 49ers defense might change his mind.
We all are quite familiar with Aldon Smith, Baalke’s first-round selection in 2011, and his NFL Rookie of the Year-worthy success after converting to a 3-4 OLB. If Nick Perry is capable and becomes the next Aldon Smith, then this is an absolute homerun pick. The rotation of Smith and Perry coming off the right side would be deadly for opposing QBs.
Amini Silatolu (Walter Cherepinsky's Pick)
Walt made a fine selection with offensive guard Amini Silatolu of Midwestern State. He rates as the third- or fourth-overall prospect at his position according to many projections.
Picking at No. 61, first-rounders David DeCastro and Cordy Glenn, as well as early second-round talent Kevin Zeitler will already be gone. Silatolu easily qualifies as the next best prospect, thus satisfying need and value.
He would provide immediate competition for the 49ers’ Daniel Kilgore at RG. He’d either win the job or give the O-line some much-needed depth.
At 6’4’’ 311 pounds, Silatolu does not possess the physical attributes as say, a Kelechi Osemele (6’6’’ 333). However, Silatolu is a tenacious above-average pass- and run-blocker that doesn’t quit.
Notable concerns are his playing in a Division II conference based on academic ineligibilities and his ability to make a smooth leap into the NFL.
I believe his versatility at playing both tackle and guard trump any adaptability issues.
Alfonzo Dennard (Charlie Campbell's Pick)
After Morris Claiborne and Dre Kirkpatrick, another surefire lockdown corner does not exist in the 2012 draft class (suppose one could make a case for Janoris Jenkins).
That leaves a bevy of options for cornerbacks selected in the second round that may or may not pan out immediately in the NFL. This list includes Stephon Gilmore, Jayron Hosley, Chase Minnifield, Jamell Fleming—and certainly Alfonzo Dennard among others.
The University of Nebraska product excels in press-man coverage but is capable in zone schemes as well. He’s a little raw in some areas, but adequately tracks the football once in the air and can operate on the outside and cover the slot receiver.
The 49ers would be well served adding another CB to play behind Carlos Rogers, Tarell Brown and Chris Culliver, but doing so in the second with Dennard may not amount to an intelligent value pick.
Scouts rank him anywhere between the fifth- and 15th overall corner. Clearly, questions abound regarding Dennard and many other corners in the early rounds.
Plus, selecting an offensive lineman assuages a greater deficiency.
Will Adams the homerun threat or one with suspect ball security prevail?
Joe Adams (Walter Cherepinsky's Pick)
Adams is a dual threat at wide receiver and as a return specialist. He has blazing speed and is an elusive, game-changing playmaker after the catch.
His willingness to haul in passes over the middle and sustain jarring hits indicates his toughness. Conversely, Adams lacks consistent ball security and the physicality (only 5’11’’ 179) to overcome press coverage and break tackles.
While providing good value at pick No. 92, the 49ers already have Ted Ginn, Jr. and Perrish Cox (with a mix of Kendall Hunter) as kick/punt returners.
As purely a WR, Adams is superior to Kyle Williams with his explosion/speed out of the slot, but is nowhere near capable of replacing Randy Moss as the imposing downfield threat in case he fails to replicate his past success.
If the Niners take a wideout in the third, I’d expect a taller, more big-bodied receiver in the form of Brian Quick (6’4’’ 220). Adams’ speed and playmaking abilities are hard to ignore, however.
Mitchell Schwartz (Charlie Campbell's Pick)
Schwartz projects as a late-second to early-third round draft pick. Taking him at No. 92 at the bottom of the third thus qualifies as a great value selection.
He is a highly underrated tackle being overshadowed by fellow Pac-12 standout tackles Ryan Kalil and Jonathan Martin. He possesses versatility and high football intelligence playing at both tackle positions and in diverse blocking schemes at Cal. His Senior Bowl workouts also made a favorable impression on scouts.
Schwartz unfortunately suffered a potentially career-shortening back injury in 2011, which could negate his proven durability in starting all of his 51 NCAA games.
Moreover, analysts still regard him as a backup prospect. The 49ers are undoubtedly set at LT with Joe Staley and even if they were to move RT Anthony Davis inside to guard, Schwartz would not be able to immediately fill his vacated role as a rookie.
Outside of Kalil, Reily Reiff, Martin and Mike Adams, no incoming first-year tackle could occupy a starting position. The Niners are in need of a starting or depth-providing right guard, not a backup tackle.
I'll admit: the man is downright menacing.
Vontaze Burfict (Walter Cherepinsky's Pick)
Despite Burfict's irrefutable physical characteristics and NFL potential, this pick seems a bit too high.
Burfict was one of the most highly touted linebackers throughout 2011. After some late-season antics and a severely poor combine performance, though, his stock dropped significantly lower than early projections.
His hotheadedness and emotional instability overshadows his ferocious tackling and often-dominant control of the opposition’s rushing attack. He plays out of control when things don’t go in his favor and subsequently takes way too many penalties. Simply put, Burfict lacks maturity and self-control.
With all that said, the 49ers might be the perfect fit for this problematic, yet immensely talented linebacker. The All-World, All-Mature godsend of a man in Patrick Willis would perform the role of mentor. He would teach him the ways of a professional football player and proficient ILB capable of diagnosing offenses and calling plays. Navorro Bowman would assist in this regard as well.
Willis, Bowman and 49ers’ coaching staff accomplishing this transformation would render this selection as a fairly decent pick. The team requires depth at ILB with Larry Grant’s tenuous contract situation and Blake Costanzo’s departure in free agency (Tavares Gooden being the only backup).
However, more significant needs (defensive line, running back, safety) exist for the Red and Gold.
Antonio Allen (Charlie Campbell’s Pick)
Mr. Campbell struck gold with the selection of Antonio Allen in the fourth-round.
He could have gone with a running back (Robert Turbin, Ronnie Hillman) as the future replacement for the seemingly indomitable Frank Gore.
On the other hand, depth at a safety position is also important. And selecting Allen in the fourth is an impressive value pick.
Allen ranks consistently as the third-best strong safety in this year’s class. He projects as a late-third to early fourth-round prospect. His notable skill set includes being a smash-mouth in-the-box defender, formidable tackler and disciplined blitzer with experience in coverage and on special teams.
Allen’s weaknesses revolve around his “tweener” identity as a safety/linebacker who experiences difficulty in coverage. There are durability concerns as well.
In any case, Antonio Allen mitigates a backup need and offers great value at No. 125.
Molk plays with a chip on his shoulder.
David Molk (Walter Cherepinsky's Pick)
In rounding out his five-round mock draft, Cherepinsky nailed it by picking center David Molk.
Molk is a slightly undersized at his position (6’1’’ 298), but is stronger and a “better drive blocker than [his] size would suggest.”
His constant awareness allows him to diagnose and pick up stunts and blitzes while protecting the quarterback. He is a rangy, effective run-blocker backed by a ceaseless motor and who plays completely beyond his size.
Being elected team captain in 2011 along with four-year starter and letterman honors are signs of Molk’s leadership qualities. 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh would especially appreciate his no-nonsense, chip-on-the-shoulder mentality (not to mention playing through a host of different injuries).
Molk could bulk up and correct his deficiencies (footwork, hand placement, other inconsistencies) under the guidance of Jonathan Goodwin. The incumbent center is under contract for just two more seasons. Molk would takeover the position thereafter.
Coryell Judie (Charlie Campbell’s Pick)
Campbell made a slightly disappointing selection with his final pick in the fifth round. Despite taking CB Alfonzo Dennard earlier in the draft, Campbell drafted another corner in Coryell Judie.
Judie is a solid value selection as a projected fourth- to fifth-round talent. He is, however, a bit overkill.
Campbell made draft choices based most entirely on value and not on need. The defense improved depth-wise at OLB, corner and safety, but never once did he address the deficiencies along the offensive line, wide receiver or future replacement at running back.
Judie would fit in seamlessly with the 49ers as a capable run-defender and on special teams, but flourishes more in a zone system rather than in man coverage.
Targeting a RB in this round would have been a more prudent selection.