I realize that I have been a staunch advocate of the Niner’s ‘not’ moving up in the draft for high impact players. The cost of moving up for those type players would be too great (most likely within the top 15). We could possibly have the ability to move in the low 20’s, but would still be a fairly costly maneuver in regards to draft picks. Because of this, don’t count Baalke out to use RB LMJ as added value to any move up. As with any mock, how the players rank out to be picked is the determining element. In reviewing the latest rankings from SB Nation – 5.0 BIG BOARD, I noticed an interesting possibility for the Niners moving up that could be done without selling the farm. This of course, assuming the ranking falls close to as given by SB Nation. This trade would actually leave them with their current pick at #30, and moves them up to also have – surprise – pick #29 in Rd 1. A trade with New England, giving them RB LMJ, along with Niner pick #61 (Rd2). NE, a la coach Belichik, would love the idea of having ‘LMJ’ since they never have enough RB’s to give coach ‘B" what he loves to do - playing merry-go-round with his backfield.
I call this mock a ‘GM’ model mock because of it being based on the following principles:
· LET’S TAKE A QUICK VIEW OF OUR TEAMS KEY POSITIONS AND THEIR DEPTH CHART:
NT’S(DT’s): William; Dial; Dorsey; Tupou.
Williams is coming off an injury from last year; Dial drafted w/injury but is suppose to be ready to play for this season; tupou is untested with no significant playing time. Dial remains an unknown until proven. ‘DE’ Tony Jerod-Eddy, on our roster as a ‘DE’ played last year in the ‘DT’ position along with Dorsey and did an admiral job. Still, he’s a ‘DE’ right? Thus we are weak in depth in this position.
DE’S: Jerod-Eddy; McDonald; Okoye.
McDonald is coming off injury from last year and getting older as ‘DL’s go. Will he still have the gas? Okoye is a project at best, and will probably remain so for awhile assuming he remains on the roster this next season. As you can see, we are also weak here in depth as well.
DT’S: Carradine; Dobbs; Purcell; and J. Smith.
Carradine is ready to return from injury, but until proven is untested. Dobbs has played little since he’s had injuries most of this time with Niners. ‘COWBOY’ is our strength, but getting older and needs to pace thru the season for him to be affective at the end of the season. Purcell is untested with no significant playing time as yet, so is unproven. We have some weakness here as well.
ILB’S: Bowman; Moody; Wilhoite; Willis.
Well all know Bowman is out for probably half of the 2014 season. Wilhoite is the only ILB that has had any significant playing time behind Bowman and Willis. Moody is untested in this position. Again, depth with production is a question. Remember also, Willis had a hand injury early on last season, so injuries are expected to occur in this high impact position.
OLB’S: Brooks; Fleming; Lemonier; Skuta, A. Smith.
We all know that A. Smith will be suspended for a significant amount of time for 2014, and the question is will he even be around this team or any team for 2015. Fleming has not show much, having been injured much, so there is much question in him. Our depth now is Lemonier and Skuta. Can we add a better combination of strength in this group? More strength is needed.
TE’S: Davis; McDonal; Celek; Carrier.
Davis is our man. McDonald, a rookie last year, is somewhat a question mark. Most likely his season last year was given him to bolster his blocking capabilities since he was not used much in the passing game. I think the Niners were grooming him as depth to fill behind Davis, which says they saw more in the rookie than Celek or Carrier who have been with the team much longer. We can make this group stronger also is my guess.
RB’S: Gore; Hunter; Lattimore; Jewel. (LMJ is assumed to be traded).
Gore is our man (at least for this season), but is getting older and needs to be paced similar to J. Smith to be sure there is something there at the end of the season for playoff action. Hunter has done a fine job filling in for Gore, but, I question that he has the upside production for a full season equal to what Gore has provided us. Jewel, has been mostly untested. Lattimore is intriquing and could be quite successful, but, he also has been untested for a full season, and coming off 2 major surgeries, just how long can he be effective? Remember, we lost A. Dixon to free agency, our Red Zone RB for the last 2 seasons.
Also, I though it would be of interest to reflect on the following: Special Teams…Punt&Kick Returning. Our primary returner last year was ‘LMJ’. Again, Assuming his wish to be traded occurs, then the begging question is who will be returning punts & kicks for the Niners in 2014? The Niners currently have 2 players on their roster who have P&K returning experience. WR David Reed, and WR Devon Wylie. Neither of these players have played for the Niners in this capacity, or even as WR’s for that matter. Please keep this in mind when viewing the mock draft below. Can we improve on this position over LMJ? Is Reed or Wylie an improvement over LMJ? We have a lingering question for this position for 2014.
So based on the above, here is our ‘GM’ mock draft, giving the Niners their cake, eating it, then letting them return for more.
NOTE: PICK’S #29 AND #30 CAN BE INVERSED SINCE THEY ARE IN SEQUENCE.
PICK #29: Best Available (BA): LB/R.Shazier; D. Ford, or J. Attaochu. Potentially all could be available at this pick slot. But also, it’s quite likely 1 or 2 of them might be gone as well. The best ‘GM’ pick if all are available is R. Shazier. Shazier can perform as a ‘Pass Rushing’ OLB, or he can line up inside for run ‘D’ and/or inside ‘blitz’ work. He has excellent pass coverage skills – basically he can play all schemes and plays outstanding in space. Ford and Attaochu have strong "Pass Rushing" skills so could provide the depth to fill our need behind A. Smith, as well as give us overall depth in the P/R OLB group. Potentially Ford and Attaochu may have more upside to strengthen this group over Skuta and Brooks. Shazier is so versatile, he can fill many holes and play whatever schemes the Niners decide to employ.
PICK #30: (BA) DT(NT): T. Jernigan, or DT(DE) R. Hageman. Jernigan would be a natural "NT" fill for us as a 5-Tech line defender, while Hageman is so versatile he could play both 5 or 3 Tech. ( a la J. Smith). For the ‘GM’ pick here, the question is, is ‘DE’ Jerod-Eddy a better ‘DE’ than Hageman, or a better ‘NT’ depth player. If he’s a better upside ‘DE’ than Hageman, then the pick would be Jernigan; if not, Hageman would be the play for the 3-Tech, with Jerod-Eddy sliding as depth to DT. The other consideration is seeing Jerod-Eddy has shown that he can play both DE and DT, that is exactly the versatile value to Hageman, so the Niners would have 2 players with that versatility and could use them accordingly as needed. The ‘GM’ lean is to pick Hageman.
PICK #56: (BA) SS/CB: J. Ward, or, FS/CB T. Brooks. Both of these tough boys have size and physicality we need for our division. Both have played CB with the skill sets to play press and be physical on WR’s. Exactly what we need. Both would probably play CB initially in 2014, and both could move to the SS or FS position in the future when Bethea slides. If Brooks is chosen, he would go to FS, then Reid would move to his natural position at SS. If Ward is chosen, he goes to SS, Reid stays as FS. ‘GM’ pick here is "toss up" – take who you like.
PICK #77: (BA) WR B. Ellington, or, WR C. Latimer. Both have speed to stretch the field. Both have good hands and can track the ball well. Both are physical in catching the ball and can run tough after the catch. Latimer has more highth and potential long term upside over time as a pure WR; while Ellington can also be a playmaker in P & R returns (taking over for LMJ). He is a playmaker that can score from anywhere once he has the ball. Since adding WR Lloyd , this allows the Niners to play with placing Boldin back to his natural position in the slot, with an Ellington in depth to help preserve Boldin for the entire season. Obviously both Ellington and Latimer have the speed to stretch the field, but with Lloyd on the roster, Ellington could very well see more WR time than Latimer in 2014. ‘GM’ pick here is to get our version of P. Harvin = Ellington is the pick due to his ability to handle the P&R returns.
PICK #94: (BA) CB’s – Take your pick: McGill; Watkins; E.J. Gaines; Jean-Baptiste. Any could compliment the Ward/Brooks pick.
PICK #100: TE: C.J. Fiedorowicz. This pick compliments Davis and McDonald as primarily pass receiving TE’s. ‘Fiedo’ becomes our Red Zone and 3rd down short yardage tight end for increased blocking and receiving in the Red Zone. A very tough physical blocker - nice to have when fighting in our division again.
PICK #125: (BA) RB S. Johnson, or, RB T. West. The ‘GM’ pick here is RB S. Johnson, with more upside that could handle full time duty, but will be excellent to utilize in the Red Zone, replacing A. Dixon.
PICK #170: (BA) OLB D. Kennard; or, QB T. Boyd. If our "P/R" OLB shouldn’t work out earlier, here is our fail safe pick to add strengthening our depth. He also would provide competition to the group and help determine the best OLB line to have. Boyd provides Coach Harbaugh with his favorite thing to do. But isn’t Gabbard going to be taking all his time?
PICK #224/225/245: (BA) Diamonds to look for: WR A. Franklin; WR L. Washington; WR Q. Enunwa; FB R. Hewitt; RB R. Neal. In thinking of our division, these players could be still picked up by the Niners. WR Franklin isn’t getting the love, but he’s as fast with as good hands as M. Lee; P. Richardson and Latimer. He may not be quite as tough, but he’s a player for sure. If you want physicality for the division, then look at WR Enunwa, who is a tough big physical guy a la James Jones prototype with excellent hands. WR Washington also has speed to stretch the field, but Franklin has more upside.
THERE YOU GO NINER FANS, DO YOU HAVE YOUR FILL OF CAKE YET?