In Part 2 of this 4-part post I proposed the disposition (re-signing or releasing) of all of the Niners' 2014 free agents, of other players to be released, 2014 contracts to be restructured, players to be traded for draft choices, and free agent acquisitions to replace the departed players. Finally, I provided a wish-list for the 2014 Draft in May, to wit:
2014 Draft Wish List:
2 Wide Receivers
Running Back ... to replace the combination of the released Dixon and the traded James
Kick Returner / Punt Returner ... to replace LaMichael James
Defensive Lineman ... either DE or DT (for the Practice Squad)
Developmental small (Delanie Walker type) Tight End (for the Practice Squad)
Since publishing Part 2, I saw a comment by ChesapeakeBay9er suggesting that perhaps Derek Carrier (now on the roster) might fill the need of the developmental TE; after doing some research, I have concluded that he's absolutely right ... good fit, just needs time to develop. Thus, my Niners mock draft WON'T address the TE position.
After evaluating the Niners' 2013 season-end roster, I've concluded that there is room on the 2014 Final-53 for seven or eight draft prospects to replace current players (including those proposed to be released and/or traded). In addition, if Baalke doesn't use all available draft picks (including multiple picks to trade up) to acquire these prospects, he may trade the remaining picks for draft choices in the 2015 Draft. Beyond that, it is possible that he will still have some basically untradeable 7th-round picks still available ... which he can use to draft prospects for the Practice Squad and/or the NFI roster at the conclusion of Training Camp.
Once again, if I'm in Baalke's chair, here's what I do before and during the May 8-10 NFL Draft:
1. Trade RB/KR/PR LaMichael James to the Philadelphia Eagles in exchange for their 2014 fourth-round draft pick ... #118.
2. Trade OG Mike Iupati to one of the following eight teams (or others expressing interest), all of whom have listed the need for an OG as one of their three biggest needs, in exchange for their second-round draft pick in the 2014 Draft (second round pick number is shown in parenthesis):
3. Make the following exchange of draft picks with the Cleveland Browns (trade value in parenthesis after each pick number):
San Francisco receives: Round 2 / Pick #35 (550) plus Round 7 / Pick #195 (16)
Cleveland receives: Round 2 / Pick #56 (340) from Kansas City, plus Round 3 / Pick #77 (205) from Tennessee plus Round 7 / Pick #189 (16)
4. During the Draft, trade Pick #125 (Round 4) in exchange for a third round pick in the 2015 Draft.
The Draft Selections
(The number in parenthesis after each prospects name is the current overall ranking for the prospect by NFLDraftScout as of today, February 4th.) We all recognize that these rankings will undoubted change ... significantly in some cases ... after the NFL Combine scheduled for February 19-25 and collegiate Pro Days thereafter. IF I was drafting TODAY, given these current prospect rankings, here are my selections:
Round 1 / Pick #30 (Own pick):
C Travis Swanson (32) Arkansas
6'5" / 315# / 5.26 speed / Redshirt Senior
Two-time team captain; started all 50 games of his Razorback career; Honor Role student majoring in Sociology; AP All-SEC first team. Highest-ranked center in 2014 NFL Draft ... the only center prospect considered ready to start immediately in the NFL. Good athleticism ... pulls well in the run game; very strong pass protector; good explosiveness and awareness in making line calls. Strength Coach Ben Herbert (Wisconsin, now Arkansas): "(Swanson's) movement ability is second only to Joe Thomas (Cleveland Browns All-Pro left tackle) out of the linemen that I have worked with in the last 12 years."
Round 2 / Pick #35 (Acquired from Cleveland):
WR Allen Robinson (35) Penn State
6'3" / 210# / 4.54 speed ** (see footnote) / Junior
Started 29 of 36 career games at Penn State; majoring in Telecommunications; also starred in HS basketball as team captain; 37" vertical jump; actively involved in community service. SN and CBS All-American first teams; All-Big Ten first team. 6th-ranked WR in 2014 NFL Draft. Extremely productive ... led Big Ten in catches, receptions / game, receiving yards and TD catches; averaged 14.0 yards / reception; 10% of all career receptions went for TDs; good speed and strong hands; deceiving acceleration and extremely sharp cuts.
Round 2 / Pick #34-#51 (Acquired from one of ten possible teams in exchange for OG Mike Iupati):
CB Kyle Fuller (59) Virginia Tech
6'0" / 194# / 4.45 / speed Senior
Four-year starter at CB; permanent team captain; two brothers played in the NFL; majoring in Finance; All-American second team; All-ACC first team. 7th-ranked CB in 2014 Draft. Reads QBs and WRs very well (probably learning from his brothers); very disciplined; good top-end speed; aggressive style; above-average tackler; footwork and balance is inconsistent (enter Ed Donatell).
Round 2 / Pick #56 (Acquired from Kansas City): TRADED TO CLEVELAND
Round 2 / Pick #61 (Own Pick):
SS Deone Bucannon (65) Washington State
6'1" / 216# / 4.57 speed / Senior
Started all 49 games of his 4-year career; 78" wingspan; Freshman All-American; then All-Pac12 second team; then AP and CBS All-American first team; named #16 of the top-25 Pac12 players in 2013. Highest-ranked strong safety in 2014 Draft. Led Pac12 in tackles ... two 100+ tackle seasons; a physical, imposing hitter. Rob Rang: "Well-built safety who delivers bone-rattling hits."
Round 3 / Pick #77 (Acquired from Tennessee): TRADED TO CLEVELAND
Round 3 / Pick #94 (Own Pick):
CB Keith McGill (95) Utah
6'3" / 214# / 4.49 speed / Redshirt Senior
NOT the typical CB prospect; unusual size / speed combination; very wide wingspan; 25-year-old two-year CB convert at Utah after 2 years as junior college All-American first team at safety. 13th-ranked CB in 2014 Draft. Consistent wrap-up tackler; experienced in both press man and off coverages, but still somewhat inconsistent/raw as a CB (due to lack of CB experience ... similar to Chris Culliver when he was drafted); has significant special teams experience; adept at blocking punts and field goals.
Round 3 / Pick ~ #98 (Compensatory Pick -- * (see footnote)):
Jim Harbaugh's choice --
QB Zach Mettenberger (104) Louisiana State
6'5" / 235# / 5.18 speed / Redshirt Senior
Two-year starter; one of permanent team captains; majored in General Studies; All-SEC honorable mention. 6th-ranked QB in 2014 Draft. Underwent surgery for torn ACL on 1/2/14 ... rehab proceeding on schedule ... will miss NFL Combine. Big arm and can make all the throws; tremendous vision and good decision-maker; showed steady improvement in learning to read defenses (coach Cam Cameron); strictly a pocket passer ... slow, heavy feet, doesn't move well. Bucky Brooks: "Zach Mettenberger could be the wild card of the 2014 QB class. Prototypical size, arm talent and experience in running a pro system."
QB A. J. McCarron (110) Alabama
6'3" / 214# / 4.84 speed / Redshirt Senior
Five years in the Alabama program, 36-3 record as a 3-year starter, 2 BCS national titles ... but the question is: How much of that was attributable to McCarron and how much to the outstanding team surrounding him? Camp All-American first team; All-SEC first team; Maxwell Award winner ... Collegiate Player of the Year. 7th-ranked QB in 2014 Draft. Strong arm but not cannon; accurate in short- and mid-range patterns, less so on deep balls; makes sound decisions ... 68/11 career TD to INT ratio.
Round 4 / Pick #118 (Acquired from Philadelphia for LaMichael James):
RB Terrance West (122) Towson
5'11" / 223# / 4.59 speed / Junior
Three-year starter; majoring in Sports Management; 9th-ranked RB in 2014 Draft. Incredible production ... 37 games, 802 carries, 4,854 rushing yards, 84 rushing TDs, 36 receptions, 385 receiving yards, 2 TDs; that's: 132.1 rushing yards / game; 6.1 yards / carry; a TD scored on more than 10% of all his carries; 10.7 yards / reception. Wow! 2-time FSC Division I Offensive Player of the Year; 2-time All-CAA first team; holds NCAA all-time FSC Division I single-season records for rushing yards (2,509) and rushing TDs (41); won inaugural Jerry Rice Award ... Outstanding FSC Division I Freshman. Pro-type body already ... tremendous one-cut-and-go inside runner with incredible explosiveness; excellent strength and balance; more quick than fast but makes excellent cuts ... quick to the hole and reads blocks well; this guy's running style reminds me a lot of Marshawn Lynch ... absolutely relentless / carries multipe tacklers an extra 2-3 yards after contact; wasn't asked to block much in college so will need to work on his blocking techniques at the pro level ... but has the stature to be a good blocker. I watched all three of this guy's FSC Division I Championship tourney games ... I was most impressed by his performance against the Jimmy Garappolo-led Eastern Illinois team in this year's FSC National Semi-Final game which Towson won easily ... 39 carries, 350 yards, 5 TDs, 8.97 yards / carry ... in a 28-degree Illinois snow storm! I like him as a potential Niner because he has a distinctly different running style than either Lattimore or Hunter.
Round 4 / Pick #125 (Own Pick): TRADED FOR 2015 THIRD-ROUND PICK
Round 5 / Pick #158 (Own Pick):
WR Jeff Janis (169) Saginaw Valley State
6'2" / 212# / 4.43 speed ** (see footnote) / Senior
Three-year starter; majoring in Exercise Science; AP Little (Division II) All-American first team; GLIAC Offensive Player of the Year; played both college football and basketball. 24th-ranked WR in 2014 Draft. Very productive receiver ... 246 receptions for 4,305 yards, and 46 TDs (scored a TD on nearly 20% of his career receptions) ... 17.5 yards / reception. Big, very fast, sharp cuts, makes nice adjustment to the ball in the air, usually has good hands; runs all patterns in route-tree; doesn't mind traffic over the middle; could do a better job of catching with his hands rather than his body. Here is the key question: He was a superior athlete at the Division II level (not recruited by an Division I schools because of high school hand injury), so he's not used to being challenged or competing against equal talent ... will he be able to make the adjustment to NFL-level competition?
Round 6 / Pick #189 (Own Pick): TRADED TO CLEVELAND
Round 7 / Pick #195 (Acquired from Cleveland):
DE Brent Urban (186) Virginia -- Drafted for placement on Practice Squad
6'6" / 298# / 4.98 speed / Senior
Four-year starter; a Canadian who played football, basketball and hockey in high school; All-ACC honorable mention; drafted #15 overall by the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in the 2013 CFL Draft; led the nation's defensive linemen in passes broken up despite playing only eight games this season; has the ability to play both inside and outside. Rob Rang (at Senior Bowl): "Urban has generated some buzz in recent weeks and it is clear that his length and strength project well as a traditional five technique end. He is very strong and uses the power in his upper body to stun and disengage from would-be blockers."
Round 7 / Pick #219 (Acquired from New Orleans):
CB Aaron Colvin (222) Oklahoma -- Drafted for placement on NFI Roster for entire 2014 season
6'0" / 186# / 4.48 speed / Senior
Started 36 of 50 career games at safety and CB; Communications major; Academic All-Big12 second team; 2-time All Big12 first team; Rob Rang (at Senior Bowl): "good speed and fluidity in coverage; excellent leaping ability." Dane Brugler: "Colvin has NFL talent, but needs to harness it and eliminate the mistakes that have plagued him in high profile matchups." At the 1/21/14 Senior Bowl practice, Colvin suffered a torn ACL; consequently his ranking in the CB class has dropped dramatically .. the perfect opportunity to get a third-round talent in the seventh round for immediate assignment to the NFI as a "red-shirt" selection.
Round 7 / Pick #220 (Acquired from Carolina):
WR / RB / KR / PR Dri Archer (259) Kent State -- Drafted to replace LaMichael James as KR / PR
5'8" / 175# / 4.37 speed ** (see footnote) / Redshirt Senior (3rd fastest of ALL prospects in the 2014 Draft)
Two-year starter; team captain; majored in Business Management; Camp All-American second team; All-MAC first team at two different positions -- RB and KR (senior year); All-MAC first team at three different positions -- RB, WR and KR (junior year); very versatile ... 4,980 career all-purpose yards; averaged 7.2 yards / carry as a rusher, 12.1 yards / reception as a receiver, 28.2 yards / return as a KO returner. Virtually the same size and speed as Tavon Austin (St. Louis). Excellent balance and patience as a runner but not a between-the-tackles RB. Fun to watch because he has a chance to go the distance every time he touches the ball. For the Niners, see him as primarily a kickoff and punt returner.
Round 7 / Pick #222 (Own Pick):
OG John Urschel (234) Penn State -- Drafted for placement on Practice Squad
6'3" / 317# / 5.27 speed / Graduate Student
Urschel is THE nation's premier scholar-athlete. During his 5 years in the Penn State program, as a student: BS in Mathematics in less than 3 years -- 4.0 GPA; MS in Mathematics -- 4.0 GPA; now working on a second master's degree in Mathematics Education, while also teaching math at PSU and playing football. As an athlete: AP Academic All-American; 3-time Academic All-Big Ten; Big Ten Metal of Honor recipient; won William V. Campbell Trophy -- "academic Heisman"; three-year starter at guard; 2-time All-Big Ten first team. 13th-ranked guard in the 2014 Draft. Extremely effective run blocker; led Big Ten guards with fewest sacks allowed.
So there you have it ... my proposed roster additions from the forthcoming Draft. In Part 4, to be published on Thursday, we'll cull it all down to a proposed 2014 Final-53 Roster and a Practice Squad Roster.
Thanks for reading ... and I welcome your comments.
* THIRD-ROUND COMPENSATION PICK:
I believe that there is little question that the Niners will receive a compensatory pick in the third-, rather than the fourth-round. Why? Using 2013 cap hit numbers, here are the compensation gains and losses:
Losses (5 players): Goldson ($8.7M), Jean-Francois ($4.6M), Walker ($2.5M), Ginn ($1.1M) and Sopoaga ($529K) = total of $17,939K.
Gains (4 players): Dawson ($2.3M), Dorsey ($2.2M), Dahl ($1.8M) and Skuta ($1.3M) = total of $7,690K.
** COMPARATIVE WIDE RECEIVER SPEEDS:
Dri Archer (Kent State) 4.37 (Round 7 / Pick #220)
Martavis Bryant (Alabama) 4.38
Robert Herron (Wyoming) 4.38
Jeff Janis (Saginaw Valley) 4.43 (Round 5 / Pick #158)
Sammy Watkins (Clemson) 4.47
Paul Richardson (Colorado) 4.48
Marquise Lee (USC) 4.49
Jarvis Landry (LSU) 4.49
Odell Beckham (LSU) 4.49
Brandin Cooks (Oregon State) 4.49
Jared Abbrederis (Wisconsin) 4.52
Allen Robinson (Penn State) 4.54 (Round 2 / Pick #35)
Kelvin Benjamin (Florida State) 4.54
Jordan Matthews (Vanderbilt) 4.55
Devante Adams (Fresno State) 4.56
Mike Evans (Texas A&M) 4.58