San Francisco 49ers 2013 Mock Draft: Predicting the First 3 Rounds
But I'll give it a go.
Jim Harbaugh is fortunate to have a team that doesn't have any major needs to fill and so it was difficult to project which players may be targeted.
The 49ers are one of the best drafting teams in the entire league and I hope at least one of these picks holds true come April 2013.
I've posted highlight reels for each draft pick so you can see why I like each player.
First Round: Pick 30
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Tyrann Mathieu, CB, LSU
Mathieu will never be a number one cornerback in the NFL.
But that doesn't mean that a team cannot draw great benefits from his unique skill set.
I'd propose that Mathieu make the transition to free safety. The 49ers will find it difficult to retain Dashon Goldson especially now that NaVorro Bowman should be locked up to a new deal in the next year.
Tony Jefferson and T.J McDonald were also options but I think they will be selected before pick 30.
Mathieu has the ability to be a great slot cornerback, but I can't help but feel that allowing him to play safety would take advantage of his instincts and playmaking ability.
Mathieu is 5'9" and 175 lbs. This is why many doubt him, but he doesn't need to be the most physically imposing figure in order to make an impact.
He is one of the finest tacklers in all of college football. He may not be able to knock people out like Dashon Goldson, but he is also not as likely to give up big plays because of a lack of tackling technique.
He is a big play waiting to happen. He forced 6 fumbles last year and recovered 5 of them.
In his first ever start at safety for LSU, he was able to net two forced fumbles and recover one of them. Mathieu also returned a punt over 90 yards for a touchdown.
His game-breaking return ability will also be useful when you consider that Ted Ginn will most likely be gone after the 2012/13 NFL season.
Mathieu will be seen as a luxury pick: much like LaMichael James this year.
But when you have such a talented team, it doesn't hurt to add electric players that will get fans out of their seats.
Second Round: Pick 61
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Margus Hunt, DE, SMU
Justin Smith can't play forever.
Smith can still play at a high level for another two or three years, but it's a good idea to draft someone who can learn under him.
Hunt is a mammoth of a man. At 6'8" and 295 lbs, he has more than enough size to become a 5-technique in the 49ers' 3-4 scheme.
He is able to bench press 225 lbs 35 times, and he is thought to be able to run a 40 time in the 4.6 range.
The Estonian also competes in the discus throw, hammer throw and shot put athletic events.
He has enough size to get above 300 lbs and still keep the athleticism than makes him a special talent.
An extremely raw talent, Hunt could easily be selected in the 1st round if he has a great season, but the 49ers would strike gold if he were to fall this far.
He blocked four kicks in 2011 and had 3 sacks and 7.5 tackles for a loss.
Third Round: Pick 79
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Cobi Hamilton, WR, Arkansas
This is the 3rd round pick that the Carolina Panthers traded to the San Francisco 49ers.
Randy Moss may only be around for one year, and so I'm sure Alex Smith would love another big target as a replacement.
Hamilton will benefit from Greg Childs, Joe Adams and Jarius Wright all heading to the NFL.
He has great hands and is also surprisingly quick at 6'3" and 210 lbs.
Hamilton uses his great speed and strength to easily create separation from defenders; the separation he creates is the key reason I'd like to see him in a 49ers jersey.
Hamilton could end up being a 1st rounder if he has a monster year, but he could just as easily be available at this spot if he doesn't step it up.
Third Round: Pick 92
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Rex Burkhead, RB, Nebraska
Burkhead is not a need but is still a great player.
Brandon Jacobs will most likely not be around next year and Anthony Dixon may be gone too if he doesn't have a good year.
I have hope for Jewel Hampton on the practice squad, but It would be hard to pass up a player like Burkhead.
Nebraska relies on Burkhead a great deal, and I love how he gives everything he has on every play.
His heavy dose of carries is also concerning because of the amount of punishment his body has taken.
He reminds me a little of Frank Gore: he is an undersized runner who is actually better between the tackles because his legs never stop moving.
Burkhead isn't the fastest, but that isn't an issue because of the vision he has. He makes some amazing cuts that embarrass defenders and almost always is able to churn forward for positive yardage on short runs as well.
People may be skeptical because of the heavy run game that Nebraska uses, but his vision on draw and option plays and durability to wind down the clock are just two examples of why I think he can be a productive NFL running back.