I AM NOT AN NFL SCOUT!
However, I did play college football and my positions coach, Dialleo Burks, made a profession of traveling all over to play professional football. I would like to think that I still am able to expand on my knowledge of the game and especially at the Wide Receiver position. That being said, and as blogs naturally do, I would like to offer my take on the draft and focus primarily on the 49ers need at WR.
I have always heard and thought it to be a great philosophy to draft a team based on what you think you need to beat you division rivals. When I look at the 49ers vs the 3 other teams in the division I see two areas that have room for dramatic improvement just by adding one or two players. Two of our rivals have more than capable quarterbacks, all three have very well rounded receiving corps, all three have at least one top flight cornerback and all three can bring pressure. Im not sure you can add or improve much to the O-Line and it make drastic improvements. Cornerback is definitely a need not only for depth but we need a Cortland Finnegan, Patrick Peterson or Richard Sherman presence in the secondary (not in the media). But I feel all those needs pale in comparison to if we were to draft HARDER or Smarter this year at Receiver.
After so long hearing that we have the same need year after year gets very frustrating. I know not every thing in this world can be this way, but I would figure that if you see a problem, simply fix it. If the 49ers were to fix the WR need it would either be done trading up to nab that one guy or working really hard to find that diamond in the rough.
By adding a good strong receiver you do a few things. You add a strong playmaker the D has to account for. This may take one more out of the box from time to time allowing for a few more successful 3rd down draws or read option plays. You give a QB who is not known for his patience in the pocket a solid WR who can get quick release and separation off the line. Depending on who the 49ers decide to go after it could either add a freak on the outside or yet another great overall WR along side and to spell Crab and Q. Either way, pressure is beginning to mount on the defense.
- Trading up
Let it be known I personally feel that there is not WR in this draft that is just leaps and bounds above the rest. However, for the sake of arguing I would be pleasantly and happily surprised to see the 49ers pull at Mike Smith and trade all the way up to secure Sammy Watkins. This takes care of the deep threat need, and gives the team a tested (Junior***) football player who is ready to go. Now this doesn't have to be Sammy. This could very well be a Receiver the 49ers like and latch onto. You could also throw Mike Evans name in this ring or any of the "expected" to produce big name guys.
- Laying low
I personally like this idea the best and I will tell you why. I believe Senior receivers overall are better in the long run because most are proven football players that have had that extra year to polish their product. I want to throw a few names out and know that I feel very confident in what I preach on this subject. I base my opinion on evidence provided by each player and not of my own personal fabrication or bias.
Jordan Matthews - Vanderbilt
At the moment Mr. Matthews' window opens at the bottom of the 1st round. To take one away from Coach Harbaugh, he is just a great football player. Players that can out muscle a defender are strong. Players that can get behind the defense are fast. A player who can box out a defender and position himself to be in the right spot at the end of his route just flat out knows the game. Being from the state of Tennessee it has been a pleasure to watch him work on Saturdays. The way he plays, he is always trying to be mentally 2 steps ahead on the defense.
Cody Hoffman - BYU
Cody Hoffman did not have as productive of a year as he did last. Chalk it up to the injuries, or the double and triple coverage or the emergence of Taysom Hill, point is he still was a major part of the opponents game plan. Standing in at 6-3, sometimes 6-4, Hoffman is a large target with range. Hoffman has the route running, and quickness to separate and make the tough 3rd down catch.
Both of these receivers were standouts on their teams. Both competed against stiff competition and both succeeded. You have Matthews who came from the SEC, and yet on a team that did not have great talent throwing the ball, was able to break record after record after record. Hoffman on the other hand, playing in a weaker conference, commanded red alert attention wherever he went on the field.
The big differences between these two and any other receiver on the board, is that these two are selfless mature team players who come from teams that emphasize physical wide receiver play and expect their receivers to block. Yes Kelvin Benjamin is 6-5 and could out jump most people, but there are just too many "what if"s. Sammy Watkins is a great piece of speed, but we see what can happen when you draft for speed. These are Football players who at 30 the window opens for Matthews and doesn't open for Hoffman till about the 4th.
All of this is my opinion and as always I would relish some feedback and even an insightful argument or two.
Ps, Running the ball is an abomination and should be banned from the game. Long live WRs!!!!
Me in HS draggin defenders!