San Francisco 49ers Big Board: Final Pre-Draft Update

Joseph AkeleyAnalyst IApril 25, 2013

San Francisco 49ers Big Board: Final Pre-Draft Update

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    With 13 picks in the 2013 NFL draft, the San Francisco 49ers will have plenty of opportunities to find their next cornerstone player. 

    Most expect the 49ers to trade up several times; after all, San Francisco doesn't have room for 13 rookies on its roster. 

    Will the Niners make a major splash by trading into the first half of the first round to take a dominant defensive lineman? Or will they stay put on Day 1 and focus on packaging picks on Days 2 and 3?

    Before considering all the possibilities, take a look at this guide, which includes my best guess at the 49ers big board, my rankings of every position and a final five-round mock draft. In putting this together I studied mock drafts and analysis from Bleacher Report's Matt Miller, CBS Sports and WalterFootball.com. I also watched highlights of dozens of prospects.  

    Will my efforts prove futile? Well, if general manager Trent Baalke is as unpredictable as he's been in recent drafts, we'll all be way off. 

49ers Big Board

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    Once again, keep in mind that this is what I think the 49ers big board should look like. Although wide receivers Cordarrelle Patterson and Tavon Austin will be incredible pros, I believe the Niners will not be interested in drafting them because they have bigger needs in other places. 

    San Francisco's biggest needs are defensive lineman, safety, cornerback and tight end. You'll find at least one prospect at each of those positions below. 

    Note: I took out Sharrif Floyd, Dion Jordan and Ezekiel Ansah because they are almost assuredly going in the top 10. The "Miller" column represents Matt Miller's rank for each prospect on his final big board. 

    Rank Player School Ht Wt Miller
    1 Star Lotulelei, NT Utah 6'3" 311 7
    2 Sheldon Richardson, DT/DE Missouri 6'3" 294 9
    3 Dee Milliner, CB Alabama 6'0" 201 15
    4 Datone Jones, DE UCLA 6'4" 283 23
    5 Kenny Vacarro, S Texas 6'0" 214 10
    6 John Cyprien, S Florida International 6'0" 217 22
    7 Cornellius Carradine, DE Florida State 6'4" 276 5
    8 Bjoern Werner, DE Florida State 6'3" 266 19
    9 Jarvis Jones, OLB Georgia 6'3" 245 16
    10 Desmond Trufant, CB Washington 6'0" 190 17
    11 Xavier Rhodes, CB Florida State 6'2" 210 30
    12 Margus Hunt, DE SMU 6'8" 277 52
    13 D.J. Hayden, CB Houston 5'11" 191 65
    14 Tyler Eifert, TE Notre Dame 6'6" 250 32
    15 Cordarrelle Patterson, WR Tennessee 6'2" 216 6

Quarterback

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    After trading for Colt McCoy, the 49ers have three quarterbacks already on their roster. They still might consider taking one in the middle or end of the draft. 

    Of the quarterbacks on this list, Matt Scott is one to keep an eye on. If he's available in the fourth round, the Niners might snag him. His dual-threat ability could make him the ideal backup to Colin Kaepernick.

    Rank Player School Ht Wt Miller 
    1 Geno Smith West Virginia 6'3" 218 14
    2 Ryan Nassib Syracuse 6'2" 227 49
    3 E.J. Manuel Florida State 6'5" 237 50
    4 Matt Barkley USC 6'3" 227 33
    5 Matt Scott Arizona 6'2" 213 125

Running Back

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    The 49ers already have a logjam at running back with Frank Gore, Kendall Hunter and LaMichael James. However, Gore is bound is to lose a step in the next few years, and Hunter and James have some durability concerns. 

    If Marcus Lattimore is available in the third or fourth rounds, the Niners might take a chance on him. Sure, Lattimore may not be fully recovered from his gruesome knee injury by the beginning of the 2013 season, but the Niners might need a workhorse running back down the road, and Lattimore fits that billing. 

    Rank Player School Ht Wt Miller 
    1 Eddie Lacy Alabama 5'11" 231 39
    2 Johnathan Franklin UCLA 5'10" 205 34
    3 Giovani Bernard North Carolina 5'9" 202 80
    4 Marcus Lattimore South Carolina 5'11" 221 62
    5 Le'Veon Bell Michigan State 6'2" 230 93

Wide Receiver

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    The Niners could use a high draft pick on a wide receiver if they believe A.J. Jenkins is a lost cause. My guess is they'll wait until at least the end of the second round to draft a receiver, which means most, if not all, of the players listed below will be gone. 

    If the Niners use one of their first two picks on a receiver, don't be surprised if Hopkins is the pick. The ex-Clemson receiver has the tools and athleticism to be a star. 

    Rank Player School Ht Wt Miller
    1 Cordarrelle Patterson Tennessee 6'2" 216 6
    2 Tavon Austin West Virginia 5'9" 174 11
    3 DeAndre Hopkins Clemson 6'1" 214 40
    4 Keenan Allen California 6'2" 206 26
    5 Quinton Patton Louisiana Tech 6'0" 204 48

Tight End

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    The Niners need a replacement for Delanie Walker, and either Tyler Eifert or Zach Ertz will likely be available at the end of the first round. 

    My guess is San Francisco will pass on those tight ends and take one later in the draft. Travis Kelce, Gavin Escobar and Vance McDonald could all be solid contributors in the 49ers offense. 

    Rank Player School Ht Wt Miller
    1 Tyler Eifert Notre Dame 6'6" 250 32
    2 Zach Ertz Stanford 6'5" 249 31
    3 Travis Kelce Cincinnati 6'5" 255 88
    4 Gavin Escobar San Diego State 6'6" 254 72
    5 Vance McDonald
    Rice
    6'4" 267 58

Center

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    Jonathan Goodwin is entering his contract year. If the Niners want to draft his replacement, they should look no further than Barrett Jones in the third round. 

    Jones' versatility—he also played tackle and guard at Alabama—would be ideal, especially for San Francisco's running packages that require an extra lineman.

    Rank Player School Ht Wt Overall
    1 Barrett Jones Alabama 6'5" 306 79
    2 Travis Frederick Wisconsin 6'4" 312 100
    3 Brian Schwenke California 6'3" 314 106
    4 Khaled Holmes Southern California 6'3" 302 160
    5 Braxston Cave Notre Dame 6'3" 303 214

OL (Non-Centers)

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    The 49ers will not be in the market for a guard or center early in the draft. None of these players will last until pick No. 31 anyway.

    That being said, keep an eye on how many tackles are taken before the Miami Dolphins' No. 12 pick. If they don't like the available offensive line talent, they may want to trade back, which could give the Niners an opportunity to move up if they so desire. 

    Rank Player School Ht Wt Miller
    1 Luke Joeckel, OT Texas A&M 6'6" 306 1
    2 Eric Fisher, OT Central Michigan 6'7" 306 3
    3 Chance Warmack, G Alabama 6'2" 317 2
    4 Lane Johnson, OT
    Oklahoma 6'6" 303 13
    5 Jonathan Cooper, G North Carolina 6'2" 311 18

Nose Tackle

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    If the Niners do trade to the middle of the first round, they'll likely be targeting the first three players on this list. Star Lotulelei, Sharrif Floyd and Sheldon Richardson are strong enough to play nose tackle and athletic enough to play some 3-4 defensive end. Floyd should be a top-10 pick, but Lotulelei may fall due to a heart condition (he's been reportedly cleared by many teams). 

    I'd be surprised if the Niners took Jesse Williams. Sure, he has the potential to be a great nose tackle, but he lacks pass-rushing skills. I believe the Niners will be looking for a more versatile defensive lineman, such as defensive end Datone Jones (see next slide).

    Rank Player School Ht Wt Miller
    1 Star Lotulelei Utah 6'3" 311 7
    2 Sharrif Floyd Florida 6'3" 297 4
    3 Sheldon Richardson Missouri 6'3" 294 9
    4 Sylvester Williams North Carolina 6'3" 313 51
    5 Jesse Williams Alabama 6'4" 323 27

3-4 Defensive End

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    One could argue that Alex Okafor, Cornellius Carradine and Bjoern Werner would fit better in a 4-3 defense. This is one of the reasons I have Datone Jones ranked as the top defensive end. 

    He's strong enough to be a solid run-stuffer and he's quick enough to be a quality interior pass-rusher. Carradine might be available late in the first round because he's coming off a torn ACL in November. 

    Rank Player School Ht Wt Miller
    1 Datone Jones
    UCLA
    6'4"
    283
    23
    2 Cornellius Carradine
    Florida State
    6'4"
    276
    5
    3 Bjoern Werner
    Florida State
    6'3"
    266
    19
    4 Margus Hunt SMU 6'8" 277 52
    5 Alex Okafor Texas 6'5" 264 25

    Note: Dion Jordan and Ezekiel Ansah are listed as OLBs.

Linebacker

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    If any of the top three on the list below were to somehow fall to the 31st pick, the Niners would have to seriously consider taking him even if they're already set at outside linebacker. Of the three, Jarvis Jones has the best chance of falling because of medical concerns.  

    Expect the Niners to draft a defensive lineman and a safety before taking a linebacker. They have too much money already committed to their linebacker corps to spend another early-round pick on one. 

    Rank Player School Ht Wt Miller
    1 Dion Jordan Oregon 6'6" 248 8
    2 Jarvis Jones Georgia 6'3" 245 16
    3 Ezekiel Ansah BYU 6'5" 271 12
    4 Barkevious Mingo LSU 6'4" 221 29
    5 Alec Ogletree
    Georgia
    6'3" 242 21

Cornerback

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    The 49ers will have to trade up if they want Dee Milliner. Any of the other corners on the list could be available at the end of the first round.

    Although safety is more of a pressing need, the Niners don't have much long-term stability at cornerback. It wouldn't surprise me at all if one of these five players is drafted by San Francisco.

    Rank Player School Ht Wt Miller
    1 Dee Milliner Alabama 6'0" 201 15
    2 Desmond Trufant Washington 6'0" 190 17
    3 Xavier Rhodes
    Florida State
    6'2"
    210
    30
    4 D.J. Hayden Houston 5'11" 191 65
    5 Johnthan Banks
    Mississippi State 6'2" 185 20

Safety

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    To land Kenny Vaccaro, the Niners would need to trade up, but he's probably not worth the potential price. Sure, he has experience in man coverage against slot receivers and he's a fearless hitter, but he's not the can't-miss safety prospect Earl Thomas was when he entered the draft out of Texas.

    If John Cyprien is available at the end of the first round, I'd be surprised if the Niners didn't take him. Matt Elam reminds me of a younger, more talented version of Donte Whitner, and considering Whitner is in his contract year, the Niners might take him to be the strong safety of the future. 

    Eric Reid had a few miserable games in 2012, but if he's available at the end of the second round, the Niners should draft him without hesitation.

    Rank Player School Ht Wt Miller
    1 Kenny Vaccaro, FS Texas 6'0" 214 10
    2 John Cyprien, S Florida International 6'0" 217 22
    3 Matt Elam, SS Florida 5'10" 208 44
    4 Eric Reid, FS LSU 6'1" 213 56
    5 D.J. Swearinger, S South Carolina 5'11" 208 47

Final 5-Round 49ers Mock Draft

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    I predict the 49ers will trade the 34th pick, 93rd pick and 128th pick to the Minnesota Vikings for the 25th pick. From there, they'll take Datone Jones, the versatile defensive lineman they need. 

    Will John Cyprien still be on the board at the end of the first round? Will the 49ers consider Tyrann Mathieu? Fortunately, we'll know for sure by the end of the week.

    Round Player School Ht Wt Overall
    1 Datone Jones, DE UCLA 6'4" 283 25
    1 John Cyprien, S Florida International 6'0" 217 31
    2 Darius Slay, CB Mississippi State 6'0" 192 61
    3 Barrett Jones, C Alabama 6'5" 306 74
    4 Dion Sims, TE Michigan State 6'5" 262 131
    5 Ace Sanders, WR/KR South Carolina 5'7" 173 157