I did a full, 4-round mock, selecting fairly for every team. Every pick was who I felt was the best available player combined with the 49ers' needs. I did not simply make the picks the 49ers have based on who I thought would be available as others do, so I apologize if I didn't select your draft crushes. Any pick after the 4th round is more speculative in that I had to assume those players would be available.
If you have any players you think I might have overlooked (you think would be available), please throw them out there and I'd love to have the discussion.
#31- Jesse Williams, DT, Alabama
This isn't the 49ers biggest need, but Williams was too good to pass up at this point. Williams has the versatility to play at both NT and DE, and plays with an intensity that I think Harbaugh and Co. will love. There are no questions about his motor, and he uses his natural power/strength to just disrupt the offense and push the pocket. I imagine the 49ers would rather use Glenn Dorsey as a rotational 3-4 DE, especially against the run as that's where he thrived when the Chiefs finally realized he's not a 4-3 DT. Williams could start at NT from Day 1, and get some more snaps in relief of Smith/McDonald.
Brute nose tackle (though he plays some five-technique) with a very good motor. Solid two-gap playeNot an exceptional athlete, relies on hustle and strength to make plays. Lacks the quickness and agility to be a regular factor in pass rush or corral quicker ballcarriers in space. Thick in the middle and a bit thinner in the legs; plays top-heavy, ends up on the ground too oftenr who keeps his eyes in the backfield to find the ball. Plays with leverage, gets under the pads of his man to hold the line or push him into the backfield. Has enough quickness and power off the snap to pop off his blocker and grab backs heading outside or coming through the middle. Uses quick hands to swipe aside lunging blockers to penetrate into the backfield. Stays upright against cut blocks and gives second effort to get up when on the ground. Gets low with power in short-yardage situations. Also hustles to the sideline to chase scrambling quarterbacks and stretch plays when fresh
Not an exceptional athlete, relies on hustle and strength to make plays. Lacks the quickness and agility to be a regular factor in pass rush or corral quicker ball carriers in space. Thick in the middle and a bit thinner in the legs; plays top-heavy, ends up on the ground too often
#34- D.J. Swearinger, S, South Carolina
The 49ers address their biggest need with their 2nd pick, and get a guy that really intrigues me in Swearinger. Originally was my 6th ranked safety, but the more I watched, the more I liked him. Plays a lot like Goldson as a downhill defender that has a ton of strength and isn't afraid to launch himself for the big hit, but doesn't play out of control. He plays a lot like a strong safety, but looked good dropping back in coverage and has great ball skills. He gets a bit overaggressive at times, but is the type of physical player the 49ers want on defense. If he wears #38, we might forget Goldson ever left.
High-motor, downhill run and pass defender who throws his body around, but with some control. Big hitter over the middle on receivers and pounding running backs, especially in tight quarters and as a backside pursuit defender. Good lateral movement to flow with runs from the back half, yet fly into the hole to prevent big runs. Feisty in-the-box defender who out-quicks or swims over lead blocks and fights through the whistle. Has experience at a variety of positions, and lines up against receivers regularly, using his physicality, agility, and knowledge of routes to stay with them across or down the field. Has the range to split the field in half in two-deep coverage. Effective blitzer off the edge, brings force into fullback blocks and quarterback hits. Competes for the ball while the receiver is making the catch, as he does in every other part of his game.
Best in a two-deep look, might not have the range to make plays and length to take on deep routes in single-high, although South Carolina often asks him to fulfill this role. More of an enforcer against receivers than backs. Prone to leaving his feet and goes low on tackles (especially in space), pro backs might avoid them more easily in the open field. NFL quarterbacks might take advantage of his aggressive nature, as he will jump underneath routes. Gets overly physical with receivers, sometimes crossing the pass interference line because he lacks the pure speed to keep up.
#61- Gavin Escobar, TE, San Diego St.
The 49ers need a second TE, and Escobar was the best available player at this point. He's not replacing Walker, as he's a completely different player, and I don't see much of a blocker in him. Rather, he's another weapon for this offense. Harbaugh knows a thing or two about utilizing two tight ends that are better receivers than blockers (Fleener and Ertz). Great coaches adapt to their personnel, and I think Escobar simply too good to pass up at this point if he's available.
Excellent hands catcher, very natural. Locates ball over shoulder very easily, picks the target out of the air effortlessly. Runs the seam like a wideout, long strides and eats up ground. Frequently beat defensive backs vertically, especially when they anticipated the route to be broken off. Absorbs contact even when catching away from body. Can sustain a run block if he gets inside hand position and latch. Frequently used in motion before the snap. Occasionally slow plays first few steps to get defensive back flat footed. A straight-line mover after the catch, very little wiggle or straight-up tackle breaking. Not a blocker, either plays too close to his body or lunges from a distance. Soft and tentative on first contact
#74- Markus Wheaton, WR, Oregon St.
Same pick as last time. Fell a bit this time in my mock based on teams filling their WR need (Dolphins, Seahawks, Vikings). Not a big receiver (5"11, 189), but a receiver I really like. Outstanding quickness and speed, can be used in multiple ways (screens, end-arounds, etc) and would be the perfect complement to Crabtree. NFL.com comparison is Antonio Brown, and I see it. The 49ers have three good WR's in Boldin, Crabtree, and Manningham, but could use a deep threat and a guy that could eventually be the long-term #2 WR.
His quickness is blatant and dangerous. Whether taking off from the slot or outside, his feet are literally a step ahead of his defender on everything from speed outs, crossers, to jerk routes. Displays the flexibility to grab throws behind him or over his shoulder when running deep. He'll also extend away from his body to bring in high or wide throws, and will stutter on the sideline to ensure he makes the catch in-bounds.
Too often he will let the ball into his frame as opposed to attacking it. Will round off deeper pattern that consist of him coming back to the quarterback. Can be overwhelmed by physical corners in his route, and especially at the line of scrimmage. Inconsistent as a blocker. Willing, but too often will fall off his block, or allow his man to simply overpower him.
#93- Marcus Lattimore, RB, South Carolina
I don't know if Lattimore will fall this far, but he did in my mock based on team needs and value. There are several good RB's that I think teams would rather take and play right away before they pick Lattimore. If not for the devastating injury last year, Lattimore is a lock for a 1st round pick, and the best RB in this class. He'll likely have to sit out a year, and may never be the same player he was, but it's a risk the 49ers should be willing to take.
Runs hard but not out of control. Fights for yards at end of runs and falls forward at end of runs far more often than not. Not a churn-it-out style runner but he is competitive and physical nonetheless. Displays stamina and mental toughness late in games. Good overall ball security to date. Good vision in open field. Sets up defenders with double moves and shows ability to make defenders whiff in space. Also has good instincts; knows when to elude defenders and when to run them over.
Few backs his size are as light on their feet. He is sudden and can stop-and-start very quickly. Can stick foot in dirt and really accelerate off the cut. Reaches top-speed in a hurry but lacks an elite second-gear. Runs behind his pads when working north-south. Shows some power as a runner. Not a true pile pusher but runs hard and flashes ability to explode through initial contact when he has momentum. Can be a pinball ball at times; bouncing off of multiple defenders.
#128- Brandon Jenkins, OLB, Florida St.
Once again, same player as last time. He's a top 40 player in this draft if not for the season ending injury that hasn't seemed to fully heal yet. He looked like a 1st round pick when healthy, so this is the kind of risk I don't mind the 49ers taking. According to NFL.com, the draft advisory committee told him he wouldn't be any lower than 2nd round pick, but he falls a bit with the injury still not fully healed (I'm basing that on his pro day performance). Would likely be nothing more than a rotational pass rusher, but the Seahawks took one of those in the 1st round last year.
Possesses very good initial quickness, eats up grass with long strides, and has the flexibility to turn the corner as a pass rusher. Has length and upper-body strength to rip off blocks and throw quarterbacks and running backs to the ground. Also displays the power to get lesser linemen on their heels. Not contact-shy playing the run, will stick his shoulder to keep leverage against single blocker and double teams to hold the line.
Suffered a Lisfranc injury in his left foot in 2012 opener, could redshirt. Pops up out of his stance off the snap, losing his momentum as an edge rusher. Hustle to chase plays is inconsistent. Change of direction skills are only adequate, fails to prevent backs from getting the sideline on plays to his size and break down when one-on-one in space against NFL-caliber ball-carriers. Owns a spin move but relies on outside rush too often, allowing tackles to take him out of plays.
#131- David Amerson, CB, N.C. St.
A team may take a chance on him earlier, but he was the 14th (yes, 14th) best CB on my board, and I've seen him outside of the top 10 on most others' boards/rankings. Coming into the year, he was a potential 1st round pick, but had an abysmal 2012 season. Amerson has play making ability, ball skills, and has a great combination of size/physicality/athleticism (6'1, 205, 4.44 forty). Despite the 49ers having four CB's better than Amerson, this pick would intrigue me based on potential. I also think he could transition to safety if needed and potentially replace Whitner in a few years.
Possesses size, physicality and athleticism to be a starting NFL defensive back. Very confident, attacks aggressively down hill, both in jumping routes, and in defending the run. Receiver-like ball skills allow him to high-point passes on jump balls and make quarterbacks pay for trying to fit a ball between levels of zone coverage. Also adjusts well to low and wide throws despite his size. Flashes agility. Will pop receivers to dislodge the ball and running backs coming to his side of the field. Wrap-up tackler, closes quickly to the ball when attacking receivers in off-coverage and against east-west runs. Works through receiver blocks in the run game with strong hands and quickness.
Some teams will project him to safety unless he proves hip flexibility, agility, and speed in workouts. Backpedal will be tested by quicker receivers eating up his cushion at the next level. Takes time to transition forward from pedal, comes out of his breaks a bit slow. Can be deceived by double moves. Doesn't display run assignment integrity. Plays a lot of off-coverage and zone, needs experience in the man and press coverages in which he should excel given his physical ability.
#157- Joe Kruger, DE, Utah
Kruger is a high-upside defensive end prospect with great size, athleticism, and natural power. Likely will need to add some weight/bulk to play 3-4 DE, but has the tools you want. As a player, he's very raw and has a lot of work when it comes to his technique. With some work with Tomsula, I think Kruger could end up being a steal in 2-3 years, even if taken in the 3rd/4th round.
Very impressive size. Athletic. Long arms. Plays with power, capable of bull rushing offensive lineman back into the quarterback. Extends his arms and can keep offensive lineman off his frame. Good first step, comes off the ball well. Plays with a firm base. Flows to the football well, and is an effort player. Possesses the ability to redirect. Plays with a high pad level too often. Pops upright off the snap and will give up leverage. Needs to add more weight. Struggles to bend as a pass rusher. Lacks counter moves, will get stuck on his block. Inconsistent hand placement.
#173- John Boyett, S, Oregon
One of my favorite players to watch the last few years (and I'm a Stanford fan).. the guy isn't a great athlete and doesn't have the size, but similar to (not comparing overall talent) Eric Weddle, he's one of the most instinctive and smart safeties I've seen. Despite his size, he's very strong (27 reps @ 220), made a ton of big hits over the last few years, and is a sound tackler. This was what was said about Weddle back in 2007:
"Weddle's lack of ideal speed, athletic ability and size separated him from the top three safeties in the draft, but he is a football player who makes the most of his natural ability."
For Boyett's sake, I really hope those knees are recovering and he hasn't lost anything, because I think he can be a tremendous player in theNFL, someone who probably would have gone in the 2nd/3rd round if healthy. I'd be ecstatic if the 49ers took a shot on him in the 5th/6th round.
Adequate range on downfield throws, takes aggressive angles and really attacks the catch point. Not afraid in the least to lay out to cause a deflection or make the interception. Can change his angle to adjust to the pass or receiver. Very aware of the likely target on many passes, shuffles to that side. Plays with an attitude. Watches eyes of quarterback and can comprehend what is going on in the backfield. Stays in position and closes early on only route for reverse pass. When playing in the box, makes sure to stick nose in the action. Uses hands to fight cut blocks on screen passes. Even against quick moves in space he grabs a leg and holds onto it.
Closing speed when flipping hips, turning and running is only adequate, not going to gain a bunch of ground in the aspect. Does not have the speed to reach vertical route on the end receiver on trips side. Gives too much cushion on slot receiver when aligned in man coverage, makes sure not to give up big play but allows outside breaking route.