2011 NFL Mock Draft Senior Bowl Edition: Complete Seven Round 49ers Analysis
The Senior Bowl practices have been going on this week, and the game will be this Saturday, January 29th.
For many draft hopeful players, the Senior Bowl is their last chance to either boost their draft stock up a round, or even enough to just get drafted.
After three full practices, many players have seen their stock rise. Also, some teams have expressed interest in some seniors, and have met with them already. Even an underclassmen is planning to meet with the Carolina Panthers who hold the first pick this April.
The 49ers have met with some players already, and new GM Trent Baalke has been down at the practices scouting players himself. Jim Harbaugh however is not scouting players, and many fans have already expressed that this doesn't matter, I agree.
The Niners are looking at an almost entirely new coaching staff, and their first draft needs to be a strong one to get the team back on track.
First Round, 7th Overall: OLB Von Miller, Texas A&M
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Before the season started, Von Miller was considered a top talent. After a slow start, some mocks saw Miller drop as far as mid-second round.
Now, after a dynamic close to his collegiate career, and phenomenal play in Senior Bowl practices, Miller might have landed back in the top ten.
Miller is a great fit for the 49ers because they run a 3-4 defensive scheme, and this requires dynamic rush linebackers. The 49ers do not have a good consistent rush linebacker however. Also, arguably their best on the roster, Manny Lawson, is a free agent and may not return in 2011.
Travis LaBoy is also a free agent, and Thaddeus Gibson will likely play defensive end.
That would leave Parys Haralson and Ahmad Brooks as the starters. Both are very inconsistent, and Miller would be an immediate upgrade over either player.
If Lawson is retained, across from Miller, the Niners pass-rush will be much more consistent.
Second Round, 45th Overall: CB Ras-I Dowling, Virginia
Ras-I Dowling, like Von Miller started the season as a top prospect. Many considered him a mid to late first round pick, but a sub-par season has brought his stock down to the second round.
The 49ers will need to address the secondary because of the struggles over the past few seasons.
New secondary coach Ed Donatell will be looking for a play maker, and Dowling can be that guy.
The need comes from poor play, and that Nate Clements could be cut ultimately if he does not agree to take a pay cut.
Clements struggled with consistentcy all season, and also just got beat all season, plain and simple. Not to mention that there is a very strong chance that he lost the Niners the game against the best regular season team in the NFC, record wise.
Shawntae Spencer is also very inconstant, and struggled in coverage against opposing team's top receivers. Spencer could be cut too if the 49ers were to draft Dowling and sign another corner in free agency.
Dowling, unknown potential free agent signing (perhaps Jonathan Joseph?), and Tarell Brown would be an incredibly significant upgrade over Clements, Spencer, and Brown.
Third Round, 75th Overall: QB Pat Devlin, Delaware
One thing all fans can agree on is that the 49ers are in need for a quarterback.
Unfortunately, there are no first round talents who fit the new Harbaugh scheme. So the 49ers will have to look past day one to find their future signal caller.
Pat Devlin would be a solid choice in the third round. A bit disappointing so far at Senior Bowl practices, however all scouts have said that Devlin would need to sit behind a veteran for a year or two such as Aaron Rodgers and Kevin Kolb had to fully develop.
Devlin draws comparison to Joe Flacco because they went to the same school, but the two are not similar quarterbacks.
Flacco has bigger size and arm strength, while Devlin is more accurate.
Jim Harbaugh and Trent Baalke have both stressed that they will be looking for an accurate quarterback to build the team around. Also, a number of scouts have noted they believe Devlin will be the best West Coast quarterback in this draft class.
In the third round, Devlin would be a good choice, and perhaps after sitting behind a veteran for a few seasons, he could develop into an elite quarterback.
Fourth Round: WR Vincent Brown, San Diego State
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Vincent Brown has benefited greatly from his play thus far at the Senior Bowl.
The 49ers reportedly met with Brown earlier this week after their scouts were impressed with his abilities after a strong practice.
Brown was considered a late round pick because of worries about his speed, however the Niners should look at him because he has shown great ability to make tough catches.
The 49ers have a speedy receiver in Josh Morgan, a route-runner in Michael Crabtree, and if Brown was selected by San Francisco, they would get a great pair of hands.
Fourth Round: RB Shane Vereen, California
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Frank Gore has missed time over the past few seasons, and is turning 28 a month after the draft.
Gore will still be around for a couple more years, but his apparent heir, Anthony Dixon is already on the roster. However, that does not mean that the 49ers should not take another running back in the draft.
Shane Vereen could benefit the offense in many ways. Brian Westbrook was brought in to be a change of pace back, but was not used for half the season, and was not that good when he did play. Plus he is a free agent, and will not be brought back.
As a quicker type back, Vereen could be a game breaker rusher for Jim Harbaugh.
Personally, I would like to see the Niners sign Darren Sproles. However Vereen would be a great value in the fourth round, and could help San Francisco develop a more balanced run game.
Fifth Round: FB Owen Marecic, Stanford
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Owen Marecic is currently the top fullback prospect in the draft class.
The 49ers will likely be interested in Marecic because Jim Harbaugh coached him at Stanford.
Also, Moran Norris is 32 and was not as effective this season as he was during his first tenure with the Niners.
Marecic knows Harbaugh's scheme probably better then anyone on the current roster, and would be the starter from day one.
Marecic could also become a fan favorite because of his time at Stanford when he played both ways as a fullback and a linebacker.
Plus there seems to be a growing fascination for players with the long blond hair among fans....
Sixth Round: K Alex Henery, Nebraksa
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Joe Nedney is a 49er great, no denying that. However, he is 37 and he will not be around much longer.
Jeff Reed was a pretty decent fill in during Nedney's injury, however he was poor on kickoffs, and is a free agent.
If the Niners do not resign Reed, the top kicker prospect, Alex Henery, could be drafted to take over for Nedney.
Also, the 49ers met with Henery this week after a Senior Bowl practice like they did with Vincent Brown.
Sixth Round: WR Jeff Maehl, Oregon
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Jeff Maehl would probably be one of the best players on the board at this point in the draft.
Maehl was a a fan favorite for some of the ridiculous catches over his career at Oregon including the one displayed in the picture from the National Championship.
The 49ers would select Maehl for his potential to be a great receiver like he was on the college level. Also, if worse came to worse, he would provide depth at the receiver position.
The Niners select a second receiver to build to a receiving core in need of more play makers, and for more weapons for unknown 2011 starting quarterback.
Seventh Round: QB Tyrod Taylor, Virginia Tech
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Tyrod Taylor has a lot of potential on the next level, but no promise.
So a seventh round pick would be a good value for him because the 49ers have everything to possibly gain from Taylor, and just a seventh round pick to lose.
Jim Harbaugh coached Josh Johnson at San Diego State, and Taylor is a similar player, so Harbaugh may be able to coach him up on the next level to at least be a part of a trick play or end around of some sort.
A possible Shane Vereen-Tyrod Taylor wildcat package would be intriguing, though it appears the wildcat formation has lost its touch and the league has figured it out.
Seventh Round: DE/OLB Adrian Robinson, Temple
Adrian Robinson is a great value in the seventh round.
At times considered up to a third round value, Robinson was overshadowed and outplayed by Muhammad Wilkerson who is considered a late first or second round pick.
The 49ers would at least add depth by drafting Robinson to their defensive line and outside linebacker core, and Robinson could develop into a starter.