Over the course of the last week, I have had the honor of joining other NFL draft experts in a simulated mock draft.
Fellow Bleacher Report writers Scott Carasik, Tyson Langland, Christopher Hansen and Alessandro Miglio, among others, who have partaken in in the fun event this season.
I represented the San Francisco 49ers in the third installment of the mock, dubbed #MockThree, over the last week.
Here are the results.
Note: This particular mock didn't take into account likely compensation picks and was conducted prior to the 49ers acquiring Anquan Boldin from Baltimore for a sixth-round pick.
1st Round, 13th Pick: Kenny Vaccaro, Safety, Texas
Vaccaro is the consensus No. 1 safety in the draft. He can come in and immediately replace Dashon Goldson at free safety, while upgrading San Francisco's pass coverage—even as a rookie.
The issue here is that Vaccaro will be gone long before the 49ers select at 31. This means that Trent Baalke and company will have to give up some picks in order to move up to the high teens in order to acquire him.
I yielded two third-round picks and a sixth-rounder in order to move up 18 spots for Vaccaro. In the process, I was able to move up 11 spots in the second round.
Considering that San Francisco possesses a multitude of picks and doesn't have enough roster spots to take on a lot of rookies, this is a deal I could easily see being made.
Vaccaro is as sure-fire of a prospect you will come across.
2nd Round, 33rd Pick: Johnthan Banks, Cornerback, Mississippi State
Banks was considered a top-20 prospect by draft experts prior to running a slow 40-yard dash at the combine. While that performance did hurt Banks' draft stock, I am not a fan of elevating or dropping prospects due to generic drills in Indianapolis.
The Mississippi State product is mighty fine at the line of scrimmage, gets extremely physical against wide receives and possesses solid technique on the outside.
He fits San Francisco's defensive scheme to a T and represents tremendous value at the top of the second round.
2nd Round, 50th Pick: Brandon Williams, Nose Tackle, Missouri Southern
Williams is one of my favorite players in the entire draft. He has a combination of athleticism and power that you rarely see from a defensive tackle that stands at 6'3" and weighs 325 pounds.
The small-school product is strictly a 3-4 nose tackle and will be able to come in as a rotational guy for San Francisco before gaining the necessary experience to be a dominating starter.
His power at the point of contact is beyond description. He consistently throws blockers into the offensive backfield, can take up double-teams and fills the gaps incredibly well.
The days of Pat Williams, a massive cog without much athleticism, are over. Instead, those players have been replaced with equally massive portotypes who possess a lot more athleticism than their predecessors.
Brandon Williams fits that description to a T.
3rd Round, 74th Pick: Barrett Jones, Center, Alabama
By virtue of the Green Bay Packers selecting Travis Frederick in the second round of the mock draft, I was able to pick up San Francisco's center of the future in Barrett Jones, who is the consensus No. 1 player at this position in the draft.
Coming from a pro-style blocking scheme at Alabama, Jones could theoretically come in and replace Jonathan Goodwin at center out of the gate. This is how good he already is.
While drafting Jones wouldn't necessarily spell the end of Goodwin's under-the-radar tenure in San Francisco, it would enable the 49ers to eventually move on to a younger, cheaper option.
That being said, I don't envision a scenario in April's real draft where Jones falls out of the initial half of the second round. Heck, he may even go in the first round.
If this were to happen, the powers that be in Santa Clara would be ecstatic.
5th Round, 157th Pick: William Gholston, Defensive End, Michigan State
Gholston might leave a lot to be desired in terms of technique and footwork, but his ceiling is as high as any mid-round defender in the 2013 NFL draft.
The Michigan State product will not be a pass-rushing threat at the next level. He doesn't have the explosiveness or speed to beat offensive tackles around the corner. Instead, he will be a stout run defender and can play an important role as a rotational guy in San Francisco's 3-4 defense.
Considering that one of San Francisco's biggest downfalls last season on defense was a lack of depth along the line, I am pretty sure it will look to draft two players there next month.
Gholston is a solid mid-round guy.
7th Round, 193rd Pick: Josh Boyce, Wide Receiver, Texas Christian
Boyce actually performed better in the two seasons after Andy Dalton left for the NFL than the one that he was teammates with the present day Cincinnati Bengals quarterback.
I will say one thing as it relates to this under-the-radar prospect. He can be a solid vertical threat for Colin Kaepernick in San Francisco and possesses a nice set of hands in the slot. It is also important to note that if Boyce had remained at TCU for his senior season, he would have likely been a Day 2 pick in 2014.
Alex Brown at Optimum Scouting had the following to say about Boyce back in January.
In terms of what Boyce can bring to the NFL game, Boyce is a versatile, smooth athlete that has considerable experience running routes from the X, Z and slot receiver positions. Boyce impresses off the cuff with a bigger-than-listed frame, sharp change of direction skills and smooth athleticism.
Able to gather and adjust to off-target throws with fluidity, Boyce more importantly flashes the hands and strength at the catch point to be an excellent possession receiver at the next level.
He's a perfect project guy for San Francisco that translates into being a productive pass-catcher at the next level.
7th Round, 203rd Pick: Mychal Rivera, Tight End, Tennessee
Speaking of under-the-radar prospects, Rivera has impressed me a great deal on tape. The Tennessee product had a solid Senior Bowl week and seems to possess the receiving skills that San Francisco will surely target in the mid to late rounds come April.
While I wouldn't go as far to call him a replacement for Delanie Walker, Rivera does seem to create the same mismatches we saw from The Swiss Army Knife over the last couple years.
The one primary issue I see with Rivera is that he is not a great blocker at the point of contact yet. Of course, that's something that could be taught.
7th Round, 211th Pick: Alec Lemon, Wide Receiver, Syracuse
How many times can San Francisco bring the likes of Joe Hastings, Chad Hall and Brett Swain in as training-camp fodder or practice-squad material? the team might have to actually start looking for new blood.
While I haven't really scouted Lemon a great deal, my assistant general manager in the mock, Casey Conroy, was pretty darn high on the Syracuse product.
His production doesn't lie either. Lemon put up 201 career receptions for 2,600 yards.
At the very least, this creates better training camp competition in August.
Big Board Ranking: N/A
San Francisco's war room was definitely targeting Dustin Hopkins in the sixth round, but once he was off the board we felt comfortable going in another direction. Obviously, common sense indicates that the 49ers will go out there and sign a veteran kicker.
We felt trading up to acquire players that fit San Francisco's scheme made more sense than hanging on to picks. After all, not many more than a single handful of rookies will make the 49ers' roster this upcoming season.
I want to give a special thanks to my assistant general managers for helping with this project.