FanPost

Projecting the 2014 Final-53 Roster: Part 2 -- 2014 Mock Draft, Forecasted Trades, Extensions & Releases

POSITIONAL NEEDS

In Part 1 of this post (published last week) I analyzed the Niners current Final-53 and Practice Squad rosters to identify weaknesses and positions where the team could be strengthened, noting the positions where I believe draft prospects will be added next May.

To wit:

  • Two outside Cornerbacks
  • A starter-caliber Strong Safety
  • Two (or more) Wide Receivers
  • A starter-caliber Center
  • Other developmental Offensive Linemen
  • A developmental Quarterback
  • Other "opportunity" picks ... availability of prospects not expected to be available when the Niners pick.

2014 MOCK DRAFT

I also reviewed the 13 draft picks that the Niners currently have available next May and projected where in each round I thought that those picks would be positioned. I've spent a good amount of time studying the better prospects at each of our "need positions" that are likely to declare for next May's draft.

The obvious question in developing a draft strategy is do the Niners go after a cornerback or a wide receiver with their first pick. I think that the answer comes by looking at the physical attributes of the top prospects at each of those positions. As suggested by the selection of the 6'2" cornerback Marcus Cooper in the 2013 draft, I believe that Baalke is interested in selecting taller corners if possible, due to the increasing height of NFL wide receivers. The three highest-ranked corner prospects in the 2014 draft (Roby, Verrett and Ekpre-Olomu), the only corners likely to be selected in the first round, are all 5'10". Thus, I think that the Niners take a WR in the first round and wait until the second round to select a taller corner.

Note that all prospect rankings shown below are as of September 25th, so may change significantly between now and the actual draft next May. Also, additional prospects could come into play. Let's put all of that together and develop a 2014 mock draft class:

ROUND 1 -- PICK 32 (Own Pick):

The two highest-ranked WR prospects, Marqise Lee (USC) and Sammy Watkins (Clemson), will be taken in the top dozen picks of the draft, and thus not be realistically available to the Niners. However, the next highest-ranked prospect, Mike Evans of Texas A&M (who, as a redshirt sophomore, may or may not declare for the draft) is, at 6'5" and 225# and fast, is probably the better selection for the Niners anyway. However, they will not be able to get him without trading up into the high teens of picks, as they did with Eric Reid. This is where a second-round selection received in a trade of Michael Crabtree could come into play IF they in fact elected to trade Crabtree as discussed earlier ... their own pick #32 plus a second rounder from a Crabtree trade to get to the mid-teens to select Evans. Since I said that I wouldn't rely on that speculative trade in formulating my mock draft, I have reflected the more likely case of using the 32nd pick on another WR.

Preferred: WR Mike Evans (Texas A&M) Redshirt Soph 6'5" 225# 4.54 speed

NFLDraftScout: #2 or 302 2016 WRs; #17 overall in 2014 draft

Likely: WR Brandon Coleman (Rutgers) Redshirt Jr 6'5" 220# 4.59 speed

NFLDraftScout: #4 of 401 2014 WRs; #37 overall in 2014 draft

OR

WR Jordan Matthews (Vanderbilt) Senior 6'3" 205# 4.55 speed

NFLDraftScout: #1 of 401 2014 WRs; #40 overall in 2014 draft

ROUND 2 -- PICK 47 (from Kansas City):

SS Craig Loston (Louisiana State) Redshirt Sr 6'1" 209# 4.56 speed

NFLDraftScout: #1 of 164 2014 SSs; #53 overall in 2014 draft

ROUND 2 -- PICK 64 (Own Pick):

CB Marcus Roberson (Florida) Junior 6'0" 192# 4.52 speed

NFLDraftScout: #4 of 233 2015 CBs; #62 overall in 2014 draft

Note: For those perhaps wondering why Roberson rather than fellow Florida CB Louchiez Purifoy ... while Purifoy is perhaps the more diverse athlete and very slightly faster, they are both the same size and Roberson is the better football player and cover corner. Will likely have to use a second lower- round pick to move up in the second round to improve the probability of Roberson being available.

ROUND 3 -- PICK 70 (from Tennessee):

C Travis Swanson (Arkansas) Redshirt Sr 6'4" 318# 5.26 speed

NFLDraftScout: #1 of 89 2014 Cs; #64 overall in 2014 draft

Note: A four-year collegiate starter, a two-year team captain and an Honor Role student (i.e., a "gold helmet" kind of prospect) who, as an "opportunity selection", has superior potential to Kilgore (or Looney) as the Center-of-the-future. May need to use another lower-round pick to move up in the third round to improve the probability of Swanson being available.

ROUND 3 -- PICK 96 (Own Pick):

DE Ben Gardner (Stanford) Redshirt Sr 6'4" 277# 4.95 speed

NFLDraftScout: #6 of 257 2014 DEs; #88 overall in 2014 draft

OR

ILB Shayne Skov (Stanford) Redshirt Sr 6'2" 245# 4.79 speed

NFLDraftScout: #1 of 162 2014 ILBs; #101 overall in 2014 draft

Note: Another "opportunity selection" ... Gardner has a non-stop motor, is a very aggressive pass- rusher, also good against the run ... could become Ray McDonald's eventual replacement. Skov is one of the best ILBs in the country and an outstanding special teams player well known to the Niners coaching staff. The preferred selection would be Gardner but he may well be gone by Pick 96 (unless Baalke were to trade up); if Gardner is gone, Skov is the pick on the basis of "best player available."

ROUND 3 -- PICK 98 (Compensatory Pick):

WR Devin Street (Pittsburgh) Redshirt Sr 6'3" 192# 4.56 speed

NFLDraftScout: #5 of 401 2014 WRs; #109 overall in 2014 draft

OR

WR Cody Hoffman (Brigham Young) Senior 6'3" 215# 4.56 speed

NFLDraftScout: #9 of 401 2014 WRs; #140 overall in 2014 draft

ROUND 4 -- PICK 128 (Own Pick):

CB Pierre Desir (Washburn/Lindenwood) Redshirt Sr 6'1" 205# 4.56 speed

NFLDraftScout: #9 of 271 2014 CBs; #122 overall in 2014 draft

ROUND 5 -- PICK 160 (Own Pick):

WR / RB / KR / PR Dri Archer (Kent State) Red Sr 5'8" 178# 4.30 speed

NFLDraftScout: #6 of 401 2014 WRs; #163 overall in 2014 draft

Note: Archer is the poor man's (read: mid-round) version of Tavon Austin (St. Louis) or De'Anthony Thomas (Oregon). As a rusher he has averaged 7.14 yards per carry in his 4-year career to date; then, as a receiver he has averaged 11.7 yards per reception in his career to date. The best way to describe this guy is "playmaker." In his junior year last season he scored 16 touchdowns rushing, 4 touchdowns receiving, returned 3 kickoffs for touchdowns ... and threw one touchdown pass. In addition to being a returner, I see using him as a slot receiver but also giving him carries on reverses, etc. If you haven't seen some YouTube clips of this guy, you should do so.

ROUND 6 -- PICK 192 (Own Pick):

Developmental QB Jeff Mathews (Cornell) Senior 6'4" 224# 4.93 speed

NFLDraftScout: #8 of 147 2014 QBs; #212 overall in 2014 draft

SUBSEQUENT DRAFT PICKS:

Although we will have at least four 7th round draft picks (maybe even five), no prospect taken at that level is likely to even make the Practice Squad given the strength of the roster. I simply assume that Baalke will use those picks to move up in higher rounds or trade them for higher picks in the 2015 draft.

PROJECTING THE 2014 ROSTER - POSITION BY POSITION

Notes: Names of first-year players are in italics.

[ xx ] Brackets = players on all current 2013 rosters (53, PS, PUP, IR, NFI) or draftees who are not projected to make the 2014 Final-53 ... departure could be via trade, release or placement on Niners 2014 PS/PUP/IR/NFI.

OFFENSE

QUARTERBACKS

Present Final-53 Roster: Colin Kaepernick, Colt McCoy, BJ Daniels

Current Practice Squad: None

Current PUP/IR/NFI: None

2014 Draftee: Jeff Mathews (Cornell) Round 6

Traded or Released: [ Colt McCoy ]

Resulting 2014 Final-53: Colin Kaepernick, BJ Daniels, Jeff Mathews

Alternatively, McCoy could be replaced by a superior free agent QB, Daniels remain as #3, and Mathews goes to the Practice Squad.

RUNNING BACKS

Present Final-53 Roster: Frank Gore, Kendall Hunter, LaMichael James, Anthony Dixon

Current Practice Squad: Jewel Hampton

Current PUP/IR/NFI: Marcus Lattimore

2014 Draftees: None

Traded, PS or Released: [ Anthony Dixon ] [ Jewel Hampton ]

Resulting 2014 Final-53: Frank Gore, Kendall Hunter, LaMichael James, Marcus Lattimore

Note: Although I don't expect it, if for some reason Frank Gore were to decide not to play out the last year of his contract and simply step away from the game (while still being paid the final year of his contract), Anthony Dixon retains his roster spot; else, I think Dixon gets traded for a low-round draft choice or released.

FULLBACKS

Present Final-53 Roster: Bruce Miller, Owen Marecic

Current Practice Squad: None

Current PUP/IR/NFI: Alex Debniak

2014 Draftees: None

Traded, PS or Released: [ Owen Marecic ] [ Alex Debniak ]

Resulting 2014 Final-53: Bruce Miller

WIDE RECEIVERS

Present Final-53 Roster: Anquan Boldin, Kyle Williams, Quinton Patton, Jon Baldwin, Marlon Moore, Kassim Osgood, Chris Harper

Current Practice Squad: Chuck Jacobs

Current PUP/IR/NFI: Michael Crabtree, Mario Manningham, Brandon Carswell

2014 Draftees: Mike Evans (Texas A&M) or Brandon Coleman (Rutgers) or Jordan Matthews (Vanderbilt) Round 1

Devin Street (Pittsburgh) or Cody Hoffman (BYU) Round 3C

Dri Archer (Kent State) Round 5

Converted to Tight End: [ Chris Harper ]

Traded: [ Michael Crabtree ]

Practice Squad: [ Chuck Jacobs ]

Re-signed: Anquan Boldin ... experience, production, mentor for all of the young guys

Released: [ Kyle Williams ] [ Marlon Moore ] [ Kassim Osgood ] [ Mario Manningham ] [ Brandon Carswell ]

Resulting 2014 Final-53: Anquan Boldin, Quinton Patton, Jon Baldwin,

Mike Evans or Brandon Coleman or Jordan Matthews,

Devin Street or Cody Hoffman,

Dri Archer

TIGHT ENDS

Present Final-53 Roster: Vernon Davis, Vance McDonald, Garrett Celek

Converted from WR: Chris Harper

Current Practice Squad: Derek Carrier

Current PUP/IR/NFI: None

2014 Draftees: None

Traded, PS or Released: [ Garrett Celek ] [ Derek Carrier ]

Resulting 2014 Final-53: Vernon Davis, Vance McDonald, Chris Harper

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN

Present Final-53 Roster: Joe Staley, Anthony Davis,

Mike Iupati, Alex Boone, Joe Looney, Adam Snyder,

Jonathan Goodwin, Daniel Kilgore

Current Practice Squad: Carter Bykowski, Patrick Omameh

Current PUP/IR/NFI: Luke Marquardt

2014 Draftees: Travis Swanson (Arkansas) Round 3A

Traded, PS or Released: [ Adam Snyder ] [ Jonathan Goodwin ] [ Patrick Omameh ]

[ Luke Marquardt OR Carter Bykowski ]

Resulting 2014 Final-53: Joe Staley, Anthony Davis, Luke Marquardt OR Carter Bykowski,

Mike Iupati, Alex Boone, Joe Looney,

Travis Swanson, Daniel Kilgore

DEFENSE

NOSE TACKLES

Present Final-53 Roster: Glenn Dorsey

Current Practice Squad: Mike Purcell

Current PUP/IR/NFI: Ian Williams

2014 Draftees: None

Traded, PS or Released: [ Mike Purcell ]

Resulting 2014 Final-53: Ian Williams, Glenn Dorsey

DEFENSIVE LINEMEN (Ends and/or Tackles)

Present Final-53 Roster: Justin Smith, Ray McDonald, Demarcus Dobbs, Tony Jerod-Eddie

Current Practice Squad: None

Current PUP/IR/NFI: Tank Carradine, Quinton Dial, Lawrence Okoye

2014 Draftees: Ben Gardner (Stanford) Round 3B

Traded, PS or Released: [ Demarcus Dobbs ] [ Tony Jerod-Eddie ] [ Lawrence Okoye ]

Resulting 2014 Final-53: Justin Smith, Ray McDonald, Tank Carradine, Quinton Dial, Ben Gardner

OUTSIDE LINEBACKERS

Present Final-53 Roster: Aldon Smith, Ahmad Brooks, Corey Lemonier, Dan Skuta

Current Practice Squad: None

Current PUP/IR/NFI: Darius Fleming

2014 Draftees: None

Traded, PS or Released: [ Darius Fleming ]

Resulting 2014 Final-53: Aldon Smith, Ahmad Brooks, Corey Lemonier, Dan Skuta

INSIDE LINEBACKERS

Present Final-53 Roster: Patrick Willis, NaVorro Bowman, Michael Wilhoite, Nate Stupar

Current Practice Squad: None

Current PUP/IR/NFI: Nick Moody

2014 Draftees: Shayne Skov (Stanford) Round 3B (IF DE GARDNER NOT AVAIL)

Re-signed: Michael Wilhoite

Traded, PS or Released: [ Nate Stupar ]

Resulting 2014 Final-53: Patrick Willis, NaVorro Bowman, Michael Willhoite, Nick Moody,

Shayne Skov (If DE Gardner not avail in draft)

SAFETIES

Present Final-53 Roster: Donte Whitner, Eric Reid, Craig Dahl, CJ Spillman, Bubba Ventrone

Current Practice Squad: Michael Thomas

Current PUP/IR/NFI: Darcel McBath

2014 Draftees: Craig Loston (Louisiana State) Round 2A

Re-signed: Donte Whitner

Traded, PS or Released: [ Craig Dahl ] [ Bubba Ventrone ] [Michael Thomas ] [ Darcel McBath ]

Resulting 2014 Final-53: Donte Whitner, Eric Reid, Craig Loston, CJ Spillman

CORNERBACKS

Present Final-53 Roster: Carlos Rogers, Tarell Brown, Nnamdi Asomugha, Tramaine Brock, Perrish Cox, Darryl Morris

Current Practice Squad: None

Current PUP/IR/NFI: Chris Culliver, Eric Wright

2014 Draftees: Marcus Roberson (Florida) Round 2B

Pierre Desir (Washburn/Lindenwood) Round 4

Re-signed: Eric Wright, Tramaine Brock, Tarell Brown or Perrish Cox

Traded or Released: [ Carlos Rogers ] [ Nnamdi Asomugha ] [ Tarell Brown or Perrish Cox ]

2014 Practice Squad: Darryl Morris

Resulting 2014 Final-53: Tarell Brown or Perrish Cox, Chris Culliver, Eric Wright, Tramaine Brock, Marcus Roberson, Pierre Desir

SPECIAL TEAMS

Present Final-53 Roster: Phil Dawson, Andy Lee, Kevin McDermott

Current Practice Squad: None

Current PUP/IR/NFI: None

2014 Draftees: None

Re-signed: Phil Dawson

Traded, PS or Released: None

Resulting 2014 Final-53: Phil Dawson, Andy Lee, Kevin McDermott

PROJECTED 2014 FINAL-53 ROSTER

Here is a summary of my projected 2014 Final-53 roster -

Note: 2014 Draftees shown in italics and bold.

OFFENSE (25)

Quarterbacks (3): Colin Kaepernick, BJ Daniels, Jeff Mathews

Running Backs (4): Frank Gore, Kendall Hunter, LaMichael James, Marcus Lattimore

Fullbacks (1): Bruce Miller

Wide Receivers (6): Anquan Boldin, Quinton Patton, Jon Baldwin,

Mike Evans or Brandon Coleman or Jordan Matthews

Devin Street or Cody Hoffman

Dri Archer

Tight Ends (3): Vernon Davis, Vance McDonald, Chris Harper

Offensive Linemen (8): Joe Staley, Anthony Davis, Luke Marquardt OR Carter Bykowski,

Mike Iupati, Alex Boone, Joe Looney,

Travis Swanson, Daniel Kilgore

DEFENSE (25)

Nose Tackles (2): Ian Williams, Glenn Dorsey

Defensive Linemen (5): Justin Smith, Ray McDonald, Tank Carradine, Quinton Dial, Ben Gardner

Outside Linebackers (4): Aldon Smith, Ahmad Brooks, Cory Lemonier, Dan Skuta

Inside Linebackers (4): Patrick Willis, NaVorro Bowman, Michael Wilhoite, Nick Moody,

Shayne Skov (IF DE GARDNER IS NOT AVAILABLE IN DRAFT)

Safeties (4): Donte Whitner, Eric Reid, Craig Loston, CJ Spillman

Cornerbacks (6): Tarell Brown or Perrish Cox, Chris Culliver, Eric Wright, Tramaine Brock, Marcus Roberson, Pierre Desir

SPECIAL TEAMS (3)

Kicker (1): Phil Dawson

Punter (1): Andy Lee

Long Snapper (1): Kevin McDermott

IF my projections were to come to pass, how would the roster turnover and average ages compare year to year? Let's take a look:

FINAL-53 ROSTER TURNOVER

Actual 2012 to 2013 turnover: 34% (INCLUDING trades and free agent signings) ... 6 draftees

Projected 2013 to 2014 turnover: 17% (EXCLUDING any trades or free agent signings) ... 9 draftees

FINAL-53 AVERAGE AGE

Actual 2013 --

Offense: 26.3

Defense: 26.6

53-man Team: 26.7 ... only 7 teams have an older average-aged roster

Projected 2014 --

Offense: 25.0

Defense: 25.9

53-Man Team: 25.7 ... this would move the Niners to the 9th youngest average-aged NFL roster

So, there you have it ... POTENTIALLY the strongest roster that the Niners have ever had ... there's just one gigantic problem with it ... while it projects trades and free agent LOSSES, it says nothing about potential free agent roster ADDITIONS. Why not? If you can prognosticate what Baalke might do in that regard, you're a hell of a lot smarter than I am. What would I guess he might do with free agent signings? I think that there are only four real possibilities:

1. An NFL-experienced #2 QB who he thinks superior to McCoy ... could actually happen.

2. Less likely, an NFL-experienced WR, in addition to Boldin, to give the young guys a chance to mature.

3. Even less likely, an NFL-experienced CB, in addition to Wright ... but only if Culliver doesn't completely recover. Candidates? Maybe 2014 free agents Antoine Cason or Nolan Carroll?

4. A SS free agent perceived as superior to Whitner; just don't see this one happening; think that he will keep Whitner for another year to mentor a SS draftee and Reid. It's conceivable that Whitner would sign a more lucrative multi-year deal with another team, but I think he likes his Niners situation and would like to stay unless the competing offer was significantly higher and/or longer. Would love to replace Whitner with Jarius Byrd ... but there are far too many obstacles for that to ever happen, even with the Ninja doing the negotiating.

So there you have it. Obviously it's very early to be doing this, but IMO it's NEVER too early to start formulating ideas and evaluating draft prospects. What say you?

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of Niners Nation's writers or editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of Niners Nation's writers or editors.

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