The NFL draft season rolls along with Saturday's Shrine Game and NFLPA Collegiate Bowl, and mock drafts will likely see some adjustments in the coming week. In the meantime, NFL.com is starting to get into the mix. Daniel Jeremiah is the first of their analysts to put together a 2015 NFL mock draft.
Jeremiah got outside the box a little bit with his pick for the San Francisco 49ers. He had the 49ers pick Texas defensive tackle Malcom Brown. In describing Brown, he said, "Justin Smith might've played his last NFL game, and Brown is a plug-and-play prospect. He has excellent strength at the point of attack." You can read over his NFL.com's scouting report, but here is their basic overview:
Penetrating big man who took a huge step forward as an NFL prospect in 2014. Brown has hand quickness and uses hands like an NFL starter. His instincts and feel off the snap help him to get into the backfield quickly. Some personnel men believe Brown can play multiple spots along the line in a 4-3 or 3-4 defense, which could put him in play for a high number of teams.
I spoke briefly with Dan Kadar from Mocking the Draft, and he sees Brown as a better fit as a 4-3 defensive tackle. He does not believe the hype for him as a potential mid-round pick though, so take that for what it's worth.
The 49ers face numerous question marks heading into the 2015 season, and one major question is what their defense will look like. The team is expected to switch over to a 4-3, but obviously no defensive coordinator officially in place makes it easy to wonder how that will all shake out. Whatever defense the 49ers are playing, the defensive line could very well be an area of heavy investment this offseason.
Of course, it is also possible a new coaching staff will look strongly upon guys like Tank Carradine and Quinton Dial. Both got extensive playing time in the second half of the season due to injuries and the release of Ray McDonald and Demarcus Dobbs. With Justin Smith's status for 2015 up in the air, the defensive line has numerous questions. They are getting Ian Williams and Glenn Dorsey back, but even still, it is hard to tell what the team has in mind for the line. A first round pick seems unlikely, but you never know how this group will shake out.