It's been interesting reading all the mocks that have come out so far. The subjectivity and speculation is amazing, given that the NFL combine and pro-days haven't happened yet. Nevertheless, I've been sucked in and put together my own speculative draft that I would give an A grade.
My subjective parameters are that I think the 49ers should draft 10 players in the rounds listed below. The number 7 pick is the only number I care about, after that 49ers should move up and down accordingly to get the players listed below. This draft assumes they are able.
Mock is posted after the jump. Interested to hear what people think.
1. Pick #7 OLB Von Miller –
This pick assumes that Patrick Peterson is off the board. A lot of the comments against taking Miller at #7 seem to say that we can’t afford the luxury of a pass rush specialist while we have other more pressing needs. I think this is the wrong way to evaluate the #7 pick. #7 should be a guy that will lock down his position for at least the next 4-5 years. Miller can be this guy. His pass rush and coverage skills will take away the last excuse for poor DB play. I think he will make the DBs on the team look better.
2. 2nd Round QB Colin Kaepernick –
This pick assumes Blaine Gabbert and Cam Newton are off the board. I know the critics will say that this is way to early for Kaepernick, but if Gabbert and Newton are off the board then it’s between him and Ryan Mallet for the last QBs with laser arms. I like Kaepernick more than Mallet since he can throw while hurried. Mallet seems to crumble wehn pressured. Plus, Kaepernick is local talent, grew up a couple hours from Santa Clara in Turlock. I’ve also seen a lot of drafts that take Christian Ponder with this pick. I like Ponder, but he just has average arm strength, which makes him a game manager. If you’re just drafting a game manager, then you should do so in the later rounds, and I don't think Ponder will be there in the 4th, when I have the 49ers drafting a second QB (see below). The reasoning behind drafting a second QB is posted below as well.
3. 3rd Round DT Kendrick Ellis –
This pick assumes that a deal with Aubrayo Franklin couldn’t be worked out before the draft. The 49ers can’t risk another contract stand-off as Franklin’s play clearly suffered due to the missed time. Ricky Jean Francois is a great back up, but I’m not sure he’ll develop into much more than that, a great back up. Kendrick Ellis would be a late first round pick if it weren’t for his off the field issues. Plus Kendrick has the prototypical NT weight and size and I think he could lock down the position for years.
4. First 4th round pick CB Rashad Carmichael –
I know that most every Mock on the 49er board has a CB going in the first or second round. Many fans our creating elaborate plans to trade down and pick up 2 CBs in the first round. An earlier post niners nation analyzed the CB position and noted that both Spencer and Clements tend to do well with most receivers. The big exception, where both fall apart, is covering the burner receivers, or the receivers capable of simply out running them. Carmichael is posted as having one of the fastest 40 times among the prospects. If he runs a sub 4.4 at the combine, he would be a great compliment to our existing CBs.
5. Somewhere at the end of the 4th Round QB Pat Devlin –
Some will say this pick is too high. Some will say we already drafted a QB and this is a waste of a pick. With this year’s QB class, pretty much every QB is seen as a project. You never know which project will turn out. Devlin has the accuracy and game management skills to be at least a Shawn Hill quality back-up. He’s young enough and from a small enough program that with the right training, he may be able to improve his arm strength to the average NFL QB level. If he is able to make that physical gain, he will be a steal at this pick. If not, then 49ers will have drafted a 6th round quality back-up late in the 4th round. I think the risk is worth taking.
6. 5th Round FB Owen Marecic or Stan Havili –
Moran Norris needs to go. He wasn’t a bad FB in his 20s, but something about going 0-16 with Detroit seems to have scarred his play forever. Fifth round is pretty high to take an FB in most years, but the position is a glaring need and both Owen Marecic and Stan Havili would be long term fixes at the position. I know that some have suggested moving Byham over, some have suggested continuing to pick up UDFAs. Byham is a good blocking TE and a lot of traditional offensive plays call for a blocking TE and an FB. I don't like the idea of later round picks or UDFAs because I think it's worth getting players that lock a position down. I’m pretty sure both Marecic or Havili could be a lockdown FB, and the 49ers should draft Havili if Marecic isn't available.
7. 6th round G Zack Hurd –
I view this pick as devoted to the O-line. Barry Simms will be 38 before next season is over and I'm not sold on Wragge. O-Line should carry nine or ten players on the roster next year. Iupati, Staley, Heitman, Baas, Chilo, Davis will somehow round out the starters and the first back-up, Boone and Snyder seem to be locks for the backups. That leaves one or two spots, with back-up guard or back-up center as the need, depending on where you put Baas. Zack Hurd is a big, nimble guy and would fill in nicely for a couple games at guard if needed. Hurd could possibly (though unlikely) develop into the player we hoped Chilo would be. Drafting a guard would also allow Wragge to stick around and develop another season to see what the 49ers have.
8. 6th round RB Noel Devine –
Speed. This pick assumes that Noel Devine ran a sub 4.4 at the combine. Devine would be drafted as a compliment to Anthony Dixon, the exact opposite of a power back. Devine isn’t big enough for every pass block package, but on screen plays and pitches he would be a great threat since even if he didn’t have the ball, he is fast enough to get a block in on a corner or other DB. I also think he’s fast enough to get those one or two yards to the outside on crucial first downs.
9 and 10. 7th round FS Eric Hagg and WR Lester Jean –
Could develop into a good backup. Frankly, I don’t know what to do with 7round picks. Everyone talks about late round gems, but really it’s just winning the lotto.
Eric Hagg could develop into a decent backup FS and Lester Jean would fill in for Ziegler, if he can’t come back from his injury, as a #3 jump-ball receiver.