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Mike Mayock's initial position rankings are up in advance of the NFL Combine

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NFL Network's Mike Mayock posted his initial top five players at each position heading into the NFL Combine.

Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

The 2015 NFL Scouting Combine is just around the corner, which means we're about to hear an awful lot from "an anonymous NFL scout" and, more importantly, we can start to properly get into the discussion about what prospects would best help the San Francisco 49ers. It's also one of the first opportunities to develop draft crushes, one of my favorite offseason phenomena.

There will also be a ton of rankings this offseason. We do our own rankings here at Niners Nation, I've ran my own personal rankings in seasons past and, of course, we like to highlight other credible rankings around the Internet. I personally do not watch college football, but I typically spend my offseason devouring video and whatever else I can to form my opinions in advance of the draft.

This year, I'm working on a 49ers-related project and haven't had the time to properly get all of that started. But I'm still excited to see one particular list -- Mike Mayock's initial position-by-position rankings. His pre-combine list was published on today and while it's just a top five with no explanations given, it's a good starting off point to do some research if you haven't yet. I know I'm going to start with these guys when I get to it.

There are a couple things that jump out at me. The biggest is Washington's Shaq Thompson, who shows up on Mayock's list as the No. 2 safety available. That's interesting, considering Thompson has been a running back and a linebacker, and recently said that he is the latter. But Mayock, it should be noted, has done this before and he's generally right.

Then there's Mayock's top linebacker, Texas Christian senior Paul Dawson. His production is massive, in line with what you expect out of a top linebacker, but he's overshadowing guys like Denzel Perryman of Miami and Benardrick McKinny of Mississippi State. But that's about as deep as I go on the list. Be sure to head on over and check it out.

The 49ers do have some significant needs heading into next season, though it really all does depend on which receivers and cornerbacks return in free agency. Still, some of the more pertinent positions, as far as the 49ers go, are below:

1. Trae Waynes, Michigan State 
2. Marcus Peters, Washington 
3. Jalen Collins, LSU 
4. P.J. Williams, Florida State 
5. Kevin Johnson, Wake Forest

We don't know who is coming back as far as the 49ers are concerned. Jimmie Ward may or may not be a starting-caliber cornerback, Perrish Cox and Chris Culliver are both free agents and Tramaine Brock was hurt for much of last season. A cornerback could he high on San Francisco's list.

Interior defensive linemen
1. Leonard Williams, USC 
2. Danny Shelton, Washington 
3. Malcom Brown, Texas 
4. Arik Armstead, Oregon 
5t. Jordan Phillips, Oklahoma 
5t. Eddie Goldman, Florida State

I honestly don't know much about the defensive linemen and who project where at this point, but San Francisco will need another guy or two with Justin Smith potentially leaving and injuries playing such a big part of things this past season.

Wide receiver
1. Kevin White, West Virginia 
2. Amari Cooper, Alabama 
3. DeVante Parker, Louisville 
4. Dorial Green-Beckham, Oklahoma 
5. Devin Funchess, Michigan

Anquan Boldin is not long for the league, Michael Crabtree seems prepped to leave for greener pastures and Stevie Johnson has probably reached his ceiling. As far as young guys, there's some talent there in Bruce Ellington and Quinton Patton, but if the 49ers are in a position to get a playmaker, they should take it.