49ers Mock Draft: Fresh 7 Round Predictions Post-Week 1 of Free Agency
Following the rush of NFL free agency, the picture has become much clearer, as many observers can gauge the team's adjusted draft strategy. They were able to settle several positions of need, even though they didn't make any waves in the football community.
The 49ers also still have a surplus of draft picks (11, via Niners Nation), even after pushing through trades for Miami Dolphins tackle Jonathan Martin and Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blaine Gabbert. This knocked off needs for both a talented sixth offensive lineman and a backup QB.
Their addition of safety Antoine Bethea, as well as the re-signings of receiver Anquan Boldin and kicker Phil Dawson also provided a significant cushion by eliminating needs for three potential starters. Now they have no real positions to settle outside cornerback.
They can do anything they want.
We're talking about unbelievable draft flexibility; even more so than we witnessed in last year's draft. This year can be almost entirely value-based, while general manager Trent Baalke targets several A-plus and high-ceiling prospects.
In the two best drafts, in 2011 and 2013, the 49ers were active in the front half of the draft, emerging with their own “Big Four.”
This May, expect a similar strategy where four or five high-profile players land on this team, while the rest are developmental picks. There will be trades up (which are factored into this mock), largely because the 49ers need blue-chip players to compete with their Pro Bowl roster. And 11 draft picks is just far too many, especially for this club.
Without further ado, meet the 49ers' glamorous 2014 draft class...
Round projections and measurements courtesy of CBS Sports and NFL Draft Scout, unless specified otherwise.
Positions the 49ers Don't Need
Round 1—Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M
Considering Michael Crabtree may be exiting the club after this year, as well as veteran Anquan Boldin, who will be nearing 35 years of age, wide receiver remains a No. 1 need for the 49ers heading into the 2014 draft. This has the front office seeking a player at the position right now, as to make for a smooth transition.
Not to mention, they’ll need a new offensive centerpiece with iron man running back Frank Gore possibly out after this season as well. The bottom is at risk of falling out on this offense if they take these three potential upcoming losses lightly. This isn't that far-fetched at all.
They’ve got to prepare now by bringing in a blue-chip receiver that has the talent to transcend this offense.
Six-foot-five wideout Mike Evans, the long-strider and jump-ball phenom from Texas A&M, comes off as the ideal candidate to buoy it into the next era of 49ers football. His skill set fits exactly what this team needs in 2014 and beyond: A vertical threat that translates to big plays down the field and a red-zone scorer.
Offensively, Evans gives them everything they don’t have.
And by all means, quarterback Colin Kaepernick, starting only his second full season, has to have a pass-catcher that he can see and one that he can trust. Also, having seen how Evans performed with Heisman-winning quarterback Johnny Manziel, it's not difficult to imagine how he might be compatible with the 49ers signal-caller.
From Day 1, Evans will enhance San Francisco’s scoring productivity, particularly in goal situations, where they’ve notoriously struggled. The big power forward can convert a big percentage of those Phil Dawson field goals into touchdowns, which would be a game-changer in itself.
This is an offense that drives the length of the field consistently enough, but can’t punch it in. With this defense and the kind of continuity they have moving the sticks, the 49ers can start blowing teams out if they successfully rehab the red-zone offense. Clearly this is a perfect fit between player and franchise on multiple levels.
Mike Evans made some $ with his 40-time (4.50 unofficial). Big, fast and physical is highly coveted in most west coast offenses.— Bucky Brooks (@BuckyBrooks) February 23, 2014
Trade Logistics: We spoke about the team’s drive to make this move; now let’s discuss how they can make it happen. Considering the talent in this draft and needs of teams picking in the top 10, it is very likely the mega-man receiver is available in the low-to-mid teens in May’s draft.
The 49ers will likely have to jump the New York Jets, Baltimore Ravens, Pittsburgh Steelers and the St. Louis Rams’ second pick in order to secure Evans, but this move is totally feasible. They could move up to around No. 13 from 30, trading with the Rams, or to No. 12 with the New York Giants.
In a blockbuster trade with the Cleveland Browns, the Atlanta Falcons leapt from No. 27 to No. 6 to acquire Alabama wideout Julio Jones. They sent five draft picks, which included their first (27th overall), a second (59th overall) and a fourth (124th) in that draft, and a first- and fourth-rounder in the following year.
The Niners won’t have to part with nearly that much capital because they won’t be looking to penetrate the top 10.
Their trade for Evans will be more like the trade up for LSU safety Eric Reid in 2013, when the 49ers moved up from No. 31 to No. 18 without breaking a sweat. All it took was their own first and an extra third. They even traded up two more times shortly after, completing three notable leaps in the top 100.
They can get Mike Evans with two picks.
All the questions about how high guys will go ... 3 thoughts: 1. Great prospects like Mike Evans get pushed down due to needy QB/OL teams.— Peter King (@SI_PeterKing) February 25, 2014
Draft Picks Left: 9
Round 2—Pierre Desir, CB, Lindenwood
One of Trent Baalke’s top priorities in this draft is landing a natural boundary corner that can step up to No. 1 receivers and play bump-and-run. The 49ers GM is not going to wait too long after the first round to acquire him either.
Enter Lindenwood’s Pierre Desir, who may as well be Charles Tillman 2.0, the Chicago Bears legend.
As one of the few long press corners, Desir is easily the most enticing small-school gem in this entire class. Physically, he is exactly what teams covet, and he’s got the charisma and upward trajectory to go with. There’s a bona fide performer and defensive leader in him.
At 6’1” and change, Desir is the fourth-tallest corner in this draft. The only other high-rated prospects he is shorter than are Nebraska's Stanley Jean-Baptiste and Utah's Keith McGill. But of all the lengthier DBs, he is the most fluid and controlled. This could also translate to him being the most pro-ready and most coachable.
The 49ers need a plug-and-play prospect here. Added to this potential lockdown ability, Desir is a playmaker (thus the Peanut Tillman reference).
Over his career with the Tigers, he tallied 25 interceptions, exhibiting superb ball skills. He doesn't struggle in his frame or look stiff. Desir also ran as fast as a 4.46 40-time, he told Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, which is indicative of his ability to not only run with receivers, but make something happen if he gets his hands on the ball.
Pierre Desir can be the team's imposing perimeter protector opposite Chris Culliver.
3. Pierre Desir, CB out of Lindenwood, played very well today. Scout told me they watched 2013 tape. "There is none...no one threw at him."— P. Schrager (@PSchrags) January 23, 2014
Trade Logistics: The 49ers had three thirds originally before trading up for wideout Mike Evans. Trent Baalke makes another statement here, hocking two of the remaining third-rounders to move up to the top of the second round. They blanket this overly talented round by setting themselves up to pick in the beginning, middle and end.
Since tons of other teams need picks (especially the ones rebuilding), plus the fact that this is a deep draft class, two third-rounders will go a long way. And, fortunately, the 49ers can afford to part with them. In doing so, they get ahead of their own two second-rounders, giving them three total selections in Round 2.
This is how they set themselves up to nab their big four, before beginning to look at developmental players later on.
Draft Picks Left: 7
Round 2—Lamarcus Joyner, NCB/SS, Florida St.
Signing free-agent strong safety Antoine Bethea, a two-time Pro Bowler formerly of the Indianapolis Colts, provided management with unbelievable draft flexibility. Until then, it was easily a first- or second-round need. Not only that, they had to hit on one of the top four guys in a shallow class or risk the season.
There was no margin for error—Bethea’s presence changes that.
The 49ers now have a window to develop a high-ceiling safety this year or hold off on the position altogether until the 2015 NFL draft. With Florida State’s Lamarcus Joyner, the 49ers go ahead and take advantage of that flexibility, selecting a player with upside down the road, but also one that can contribute at a high level right away.
It's a two-for-one deal, in that the former Seminole plays cornerback and safety.
Joyner (5’8”, 184 lbs), is a bit undersized, but an explosive hybrid defensive back that can weaponize the slot position right away. Stylistically, he can give the 49ers a player that can come off the edge like Charles Woodson or Tyrann Mathieu. He is also a route-jumper and a walloping hitter, which has bestowed him with the aura of a turnover machine.
His sharp instincts, ability to break on the ball and attack it in transit gives him booming value as an auxiliary player.
So he can step into that role and play the nickel right away, while playing back on the deep part of the field situationally. Secondary coach Ed Donatell can test and develop him as a strong safety, while getting use out of him as the third featured CB.
And if it seems Joyner is best in the nickel, the 49ers can take a safety next year, as Bethea will still have three years left on his deal.
But the reason the 49ers take a tweener like Joyner in the first place and try to develop him as a deep man is because not only will he be one of the best nickel corners in this draft, but he could become a dynamic NFL safety with his leadership ability, top-end speed and ball skills.
If the 49ers can turn him into the next Ed Reed or Sean Taylor, they ought to try.
Lamarcus Joyner will measure under 5-8 at the Combine but plays so much bigger. Overcomes size limitations. Explosive athlete. Instinctive— Dane Brugler (@dpbrugler) February 18, 2014
Draft Picks Left: 6
Round 2—Jarvis Landry, WR, LSU
This is a hard pick to get away from as he fits what they do on the field, from a scheme and mental standpoint. LSU receiver Jarvis Landry, by nature, is a tough-as-nails competitor that creates separation with his short-area-quickness and reels in absolutely everything that touches his hands.
From head to toe, he is the epitome of an NFC West skill player, and an ideal fit in this ‘No Coast’ offense.
Landry executes as consistently as any and, pound for pound, might be the most natural receiver in the draft. Aside from the routine grabs that teams count on receivers to make (though not everyone does), he also brings the spectacular catch factor. Over his career, his all-or-nothing style has led to a number of eye-popping plays.
If you were to try to find the best college catch of 2013, Landry would be competing with himself for No. 1. Despite his underwhelming size, he's a big target.
And as far as his place in San Francisco’s system goes, he can be a featured threat inside, pitching in immediately and providing good depth. It’s also known that this is the kind of player they’re looking for, having scheduled visits with free-agent receivers Julian Edelman and Emmanuel Sanders, who then signed with other teams.
If one were to make an NFL comparison, Landry is a lot like a stronger, faster Victor Cruz, the New York Giants Pro Bowl receiver.
Moreover, this seems like the first year the 49ers go with five skilled wideouts, instead of three good WRs and two utility special teamers. They’re also trying to use more three-wide receiver sets and always succumb to injuries here. And remember, possible losses of Michael Crabtree, Anquan Boldin and Frank Gore after this year validates this pick.
Jarvis Landry will have a chance to etch a spot for himself in the lineup and grow into a featured receiver by the season opener in 2015.
Mayock: One of my favorite players in draft is LSU's Jarvis Landry. Reminds me a little bit of Hines Ward.— CollegeFootball 24/7 (@NFL_CFB) February 18, 2014
Draft Picks Left: 5
Round 4—Josh Mauro, DT, Stanford
Stanford defensive end Josh Mauro is a total madman on the field—all 6’6”, 271 pounds of him.
Though a little rough around the edges, lacking in experience for the most part, Mauro is a promising young player, looking like a solid disruptor in the trenches. He also hasn’t developed any bad habits and what he did at Stanford—racking up sacks and destroying blocking schemes—was done by mere physical ability.
Forty-niners defensive line coach Jim Tomsula can take on this raw marvel and mold him into something special at the next level.
Tomsula has gotten the best out of all of these guys, and he’s worked with far less gifted athletes. Mauro is a model bull-rusher possessing All-Pro tools. He can be anything. This is also a smart investment with the futures of Justin Smith and Ray McDonald up in the air beyond 2014.
They’ve got time and the means to groom another starter.
And from their perspective, the 49ers have to recognize that they’re one of the few teams that could really help Mauro see his ceiling. He is a natural fit at 3-4 end and probably nowhere else. But he has proven to be extremely versatile within that scheme, lining up inside at the one- and zero-techniques at times.
As a rookie, Josh Mauro can give San Francisco fresh legs on the defensive line, while preparing for full-time duty in the near future.
Josh Mauro flies under the radar, but he seems to always make plays when he's in.— Kyle Bonagura (@BonaguraESPN) November 3, 2012
Draft Picks Left: 4
Round 5—Colt Lyerla, TE, Oregon
San Francisco has lost two of its best utility guys in Delanie Walker and Anthony Dixon in the past two years. That hurts, even though tight end Vance McDonald and fullback Bruce Miller have stepped up their efforts, respectively. They've got fewer roster spots to hand out between Nos. 46-53, and require more multi-tooled guys.
This team, which is awfully reliant on the tight end, has also proven to be at great risk when one of the top two goes down.
For all of those reasons, the 49ers have to have depth here, all the way down to the No. 3 man. They need another big guy with playmaking ability.
In this draft, San Francisco has an opportunity to find its next “Swiss Army Knife” and tight end talent in Oregon’s Colt Lyerla. At 6’4”, 242 pounds, he is an athletically gifted prospect that can play the role of the joker, providing to be a perfect fit in offensive coordinator Greg Roman’s offense. He also might be the best player at his position in the draft.
A true move tight end, Lyerla comes in as a versatile one, able to play H-back and pass-catch out of the backfield, while also lining up in the slot and outside the numbers. As a movable player with terrific hands, he is a dangerous chess piece that can provide a clutch outlet for Kap while Mike Evans and Vernon Davis tear downfield.
The 49ers bring in Colt Lyerla to compete with third-stringer Garrett Celek, while providing themselves with another X-factor they can draw plays around.
Oregon TE Colt Lyerla needs polish. But man he has deep pool of talent that can be tapped into. Big time athleticism/explosiveness on tape.— Kevin Weidl (@KevinW_ESPN) May 13, 2013
Draft Picks Left: 3
Round 6—Ryan Groy, G/C, Wisconsin
The Niners auction more picks to select an interior guard to compete with third-year man Joe Looney and vie for a starting position one day.
With Jonathan Goodwin looking at retirement and ex-backup G/C Daniel Kilgore stepping into the center spot, the 49ers need another adaptable interior lineman to compete. The team also already has Jonathan Martin, Adam Snyder and Luke Marquardt at tackle, so they really don’t need another edge protector.
This should put Wisconsin’s Ryan Groy in play.
At 6’5”, 316 pounds, he fits the bill as a big-bodied man-blocker that needs some NFL weight training and coaching, but has starter potential. He could really benefit from having a year as a second-stringer, taking snaps in the tank formations to build up his chops.
Playing all three spots on the interior line, the 49ers could also use Groy as the go-to guy in case any of the starters from left guard to right guard get hurt.
While he’s not as nimble of a guard as Mike Iupati (he’s more like a shorter, stockier Alex Boone), as the 49ers veer toward a pass-friendly offense, they can consider plugging in a long-armed interior lineman with a little more girth that excels in protection. Most of the pressure they allow tends to come up the middle.
Ex- #Badgers OG Ryan Groy ran the 40-yard dash in 5.13 seconds unofficially. Not a bad time.— Tom Silverstein (@TomSilverstein) February 22, 2014
Trade Logistics: The 49ers trade all three seventh-rounders to move back up into Round 6, while acquiring another late-round pick in 2015. Teams like the Oakland Raiders, Cleveland Browns, Detroit Lions or New York Jets—ones that need as many fresh camp bodies as possible—would be open to a trade like this.
Draft Picks Left: 0
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