Gold Rush: 27 Potential San Francisco 49ers Picks in the NFL Draft
After years of let-down in the NFL Draft, the San Francisco 49ers are looking to right the wrongs of the past by select players that can make big plays, and won't be big busts.
In the NFC West every team is 1-year away from the playoffs, or even the Super Bowl in the Cardinals case, so it's crucial the Niners make the most of their draft.
As of right now it looks like Mark Sanchez will be off the board by the time SF's on the clock so let's take a look at who they might select over the course of the draft.
10 - Brian Orakpo, Texas
It's not every year that the top OLB/DE prospect is available at 10 but recent developments have made it a possibility.
Orakpo is a 6'3" 260 pound freak, he has the combination of strength, explosiveness, and size that scouts drool over. He was a superstar at the combine with a 4.63 forty time, 39 1/2 inch vertical leap, 31 reps on the bench.
Manny Lawson has been injury prone and underproductive with 5.5 sacks in 24 career starts. San Francisco needs an impact player coming off the edge.
Although it's not guaranteed he will be there at 10, Orakpo has everything Niners' GM Scot McCloughan is looking for in a top DE/OLB including the bulk to play the run. An attribute other prospects Aaron Maybin and Everette Brown lack, putting it in question whether they are on SF's radar or not.
10 - Michael Oher, Mississippi
Signing tackle Marvel Smith was a step in the right direction for San Francisco but he only played five games last year and at 30 years of age he's a short-term solution.
There is a lot of debate as to where Oher will land in the first round because of an unimpressive showing at the combine (5.34 forty & 21 reps) but he has been outstanding in four years at Mississippi.
Oher can play right tackle without a doubt and he may be better on the left side than Joe Staley. If Smith is healthy any of the three could also play guard, giving the Niners a much improved offensive line.
If Andre Smith were to fall to 10 he should be the pick over Oher but that's an unlikely scenario.
10 - Jeremy Maclin, Missouri
San Francisco desperately needs a play maker on the offensive side of the ball and Maclin is exactly that.
In only two seasons of play at Missouri Maclin racked-up 33 touchdowns earning him back-to-back All-American honors. Of those 33 TDs 12 were receiving, six rushing, and five in the return game.
Maclin does need to polish his routes and releases but he can pull away from defenders with his straight-line speed and he is extremely dangerous is space.
The Niners re-signed 33-year-old return man Allen Rossum who is serviceable but not nearly as explosive as Maclin.
Initially Maclin was considered a lock with Oakland at eight but on Saturday he could still be on the board at pick 17.
43 - Clint Sintim, Virginia
Al Groh and the Virginia Cavaliers have been very successful in producing NFL talent, partially because they use the 3-4 defensive scheme that is so popular in the NFL. The exact defense the 49ers play.
Sintim measures-in at 6'3" and 255 pounds with a very muscular build. Although he did not test as well as Orakpo, Sintim is more comfortable in the hybrid-role and he has spent time in a 2-point and with his hand on the ground.
In February there were rumors Sintim may be a first-round pick but he should be available early in the second-round come draft day. A great value at pick 43.
43 - Louis Delmas, Western Michigan
Not only were teams able to pick-apart the 49ers secondary last year but they didn't have to worry about turnovers either. In-fact, free Safety Mark Roman hasn't intercepted a pass since 2006 when he had one.
Enter Delmas, the ball-hawk safety with plenty of speed. This year he picked off four passes and recorded 111 tackles, great production from a free safety.
The Niners do have Dashon Goldson slated as the starter in 2009 but aside from being taller than Delmas he doesn't have much of an edge.
Being from a small school and under six feet has hurt Delmas during the draft process, giving San Francisco an opportunity to draft him in the second-round.
43 - Alphonso Smith, Wake Forest
If San Francisco is looking for a playmaker in the secondary Smith is the guy to target. Starting corners Nate Clements and Walt Harris returned an interception for a touchdown since 2006 and Harris is turning 35 in August.
In the past two seasons Smith has intercepted 15 passes and recorded three touchdowns and the four year starter had 21 career interceptions at Wake.
Of coarse there are some concerns otherwise Smith would be a first-round lock. He measured-in at 5'9" and only showed above average speed with a 4.47 forty. Repping 225 pounds 13 times also shows he may not be strong enough to get physical with most receivers.
Smith should be there at 43 but if he's gone D.J. Moore and Sean Smith would be two other playmaker corners to look at.
74 - Cody Brown, Connecticut
If the 49ers feel they have other needs that are more pressing they could still get a starting-caliber DE/OLB in the third-round.
Brown is a bit light at 6'2" 244 but he has room to bulk and at his current weight he showed very good coverage skills and overall athleticism.
The All-Big East performer recorded 11 sacks as a senior and 7.5 as a junior - proven success at an elite level.
74 - Pat White, West Virginia
When you talk about Pat White you are talking about the most interesting prospect in the entire draft. He is a true triple-threat and although he has fought the transition to wide receiver I'm sure he will try it if it means getting on the field.
White is a real winner, he's done things that no other college football players have done including winning four bowls as a starting quarterback.
If the Niners are truly looking for a playmaker on offense White is their guy. He would be perfect in the wildcat and has potential as a QB, WR, RB, and returner.
Some have predicted White will be a second round pick but he is borderline as a starting caliber quarterback and with zero experience as a receiver and a 4.55 forty the 6'0", 195 pound White isn't a guarantee.
White's name and accolades carry a lot of weight but it may not be enough to earn him a second round pick, making him a great option for SF.
74 - Andy Levitre, Oregon State
If San Francisco sees Levitre in the board in the third round they need to take him immediately.
Some may wonder how a top guard prospect could still be on the board with the 74th pick but Levitre is only 6'2", and his 5.33 forty and 23 reps at the combine were unimpressive.
What makes Levitre a top guard prospect?
He is a blue collar football player who knows how to get the job done. Although he may not be athletically impressive, he is very versatile with the ability to play either guard position and even right tackle if needed.
111 - Cedric Peerman, Virginia
When Peerman ran a 4.34 forty at the combine scouts had to do a double-take at their stop watches. They knew the 5'9", 214 pound back was explosive but that is elite NFL speed.
Peerman also leaped 40 inches and put up 27 reps suggesting he may be a total package. He can catch the ball too.
On San Francisco Peerman would be the perfect change of pace to Frank Gore but after his forty there is some question whether or not he will make it to the fourth round.
111 - Mike Goodson, Texas A&M
If Peerman doesn't last until pick 111 Goodson would be another great option.
The Aggie isn't as physical as Peerman but his 4.46 forty is faster than most and he plays especially fast in pads.
Goodson is a very good receiver, a skill that important for a spell back who's expected to be a big play threat.
The Niners need to add a running back good enough to play as a rookie and Goodson is exactly that.
111 - Darcel McBath, Texas Tech
Playing on a defense that saw lots of teams throwing from behind, McBath had plenty of opportunities to hone his ball skills.
In his final two seasons McBath picked off eight passes and deflected another 15. He was converted from corner to safety while at Tech which is why he is such a natural pass defender.
If McBath is who San Francisco is targeting to upgrade their secondary they could even grab him in the third round but because he is a bit one-sided he has better value in the fourth round.
146 - Kory Sheets, Purdue
Sheets may be the Niners last chance to draft running back that isn't a gamble to be productive as a rookie.
At Purdue Sheets broke the 10 touchdown make in each of his four seasons, he has a nose for the goal line and the speed to finish runs.
Another good receiver, if the Niners drafted Sheets at 146 they would get tremendous value with the pick.
146 - Brandon Gibson, Washington State
The combination of Gibson having a hurt hamstring during the draft process and Washington State being one of the worst teams in college football history is going to lead to someone getting an absolute steal.
If the 49ers, who need receivers, are paying attention it will be them.
Gibson's measurables don't fly off the board but he is a very rangy receiver with an elastic body that allows him to make impressive one-handed catches.
Bay Area football fans might remember the 275 yard Gibson had against Cal as a sophomore and junior.
146 - Stephen McGee, Texas A&M
Bringing in Damon Huard will help San Francisco now but they are still searching for the quarterback of the future.
Due to a strong forty time (4.63) and a focused effort at the combine McGee shot-up draft boards. The reality of it is he is a strong prospect amongst a weak draft class, meaning he could go anywhere from the third to sixth round.
Although he was a dual-threat player in college, McGee does have the tools to be a quality pocket passer in the NFL - and it never hurts that he can make plays with his feet.
171 - Alex Boone, Ohio State
Boone is a prospect who has started at an elite level since his freshman season at Ohio State.
An All-Big Ten selection as a senior at left tackle, the 6'7", 325 pounder projects to be a right tackle in the NFL because he struggles with talented pass rushers.
With 33 reps on the bench, there is no question if Boone is strong enough to play but he lacks consistency and focus making him a liability.
If he can maximizes his potential as a professional football player there is no question Boone will be a starter in the NFL for a long time.
171 - Cary Harris, USC
Harris' 4.66 forty is quite the concern for many teams but the 49ers would get a real steal with him at pick 171 because of his experience and professional skills.
With the new-focus on coverage free safeties in the NFL there is potential for a position change although Harris is not too slow to succeed as a corner.
When you play at USC every day you see face elite talent and Harris ended his career with an interception in the Rose Bowl against Penn State.
171 - Curtis Taylor, LSU
It's no surprise that Taylor is athletic coming out of LSU and at 6'2", 211 pounds he has potential to play either safety position. His most realistic option to fill a starting role would be to add 5-to-10 pounds and become a strong safety where his average coverage skills would not be exploited.
Although Taylor is not noted for his coverage skills, he stepped it up on the big stage with an interception against Ohio State in the BCS National Championship game.
Taylor is a bit of a project though you cannot discount his time spent in the SEC.
184 - Austin Collie, BYU
There is a lot of receiving talent late in the draft and Collie would be great for the Niners because they will end-up counting on a rookie receiver this year.
At BYU Collie set an NCAA record with 11 consecutive 100-yard receiving games and he caught 106 passes on the year.
Collie has average speed but his great hands and awareness will make him a valuable possession receiver with surprising open field running skills.
184 - Lee Robinson, Alcorn State
DI-AA schools like Alcorn State will routinely put quality players in the NFL and Robinson falls under that category.
He isn't as tested as some of the big names but at 6'2", 248 pounds with a 4.71 forty he has the size and athleticism to play the OLB position in the 3-4.
Robinson was used more as a traditional linebacker than a pass rusher in college, racking up 193 tackles and 7 sacks in his last two seasons but he did record 24.5 tackles for loss during that time period showing his ability to get behind the LOS.
More than just a special teamer, Robinson has the skills to contribute for San Francisco, especially if they are thinned out due to injuries.
184 - Andrew Gardner, Georgia Tech
It's rare to find a two-time All-ACC tackle with size this late in the draft. Gardner didn't workout at the combine due to a repaired torn labrum, and he's not as muscular as some of the top prospects.
Gardner does have four years worth of experience (48 starts) and he has played in a pro style offense and run heavy offense, giving him an opportunity to work on run blocking and pass protection.
Not a dominant tackle by any means, Gardner could eventually be a starting right tackle in the NFL although he may need a year for his strength to fully recover.
219 - Dan Gronkowski, Maryland
Now 49ers fans may be weary of athletic tight ends out of Maryland but instead of the sixth pick we are talking the seventh-round this time.
Gronkowski will make some surprising catches for a player who appears muscle-bound and he has the size (6'5", 255) to mix things up in the running game.
Some feel that a pure pass catcher may be a better pick for SF but the Maryland pipeline may run strong for this position.
219 - Domonique Johnson, Jackson State
If you are looking for a late-round corner with through the rough potential Johnson is your man.
Only seven reps of 225 is a red flag regarding his strength but he measured in over 6'1" and has competitive speed (4.50) for a corner.
Initially a Missouri Tiger, Johnson recorded five interceptions as a senior for Jackson State.
Focus and dedication are two things Johnson needs. He will have to work in the weight room, the film room, and on the field. If there is anyone that can help instill those values it's Coach Singletary, however.
219 - Bruce Johnson, Miami
Once a first-round factory, Bruce Johnson is now Miami's lone draft prospect but he is no charity case.
With Frank Gore in his corner, Johnson could wind-up on the West Coast and his cover skill would be appreciated in San Francisco as a dime or nickel back.
Johnson barley nipped the 4.50 mark with his forty (4.49) and lacks strength (six reps), he does have very good coverage skills though.
244 - Zach Potter, Nebraska
What makes Potter a very good pro prospect is his versatility. He can play end or tackle in the 3-4 and has a massive frame that can take more weight and muscle.
It doesn’t look like Potter will ever be an every down D-lineman though he can provide a good pass rush in spot situations and his long arms are great for batting down passes.
He has blocked kicks and intercepted passes in his four years at Nebraska, giving you a glimpse of his big play.
244 - Drew Willy, Buffalo
Considered to be the most under-rated quarterback in the draft, Willy could be the future starter of the San Francisco 49ers.
Since his freshman year he has produced a good completion percentage and he was only intercepted 18 times in the last three seasons. Willy doesn't have a rocket-arm but it's not a wet noodle either.
If you are looking for a winner who has led his team to come from behind victories with clutch play Willy is the guy for you.
244 - Greg Carr, Florida State
Maybe the most intriguing late-round receiver prospect, Carr has the ability to be the big-play receiver that San Francisco is missing.
With rare size at his position (6'5", 214) Carr can do more than box-out defensive backs - he can track down balls and make amazing diving catches and one-handed grabs.
I blame the quarterback situation at FSU for Carr's lack of development as he caught 21 TDs in his first two seasons and eight in his final two.
Patrick Turner from USC is another big-bodied option with the final pick of the draft though Carr will make catches that only a few players can even get to.