The 2015 NN community mock draft rolls along, and we have once again reached the next San Francisco 49ers pick. Karl Cuba selected LSU offensive guard La'el Collins. Cuba is back with his second round pick, and he has the 49ers continuing to develop the team in the trenches.
Here is where we stand through the 13th pick of the second round.
1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon
2. Tennessee Titans - Leonard Williams, DT, USC
3. Jacksonville Jaguars - Dante Fowler, Jr., OLB/DE, Florida
4. Oakland Raiders - Kevin White, WR, West Virginia
5. Washington - Vic Beasley, OLB, Clemson
6. New York Jets - Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State
7. Chicago Bears - Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama
8. Atlanta Falcons - Shane Ray, DE/OLB, Missouri
9. New York Giants - Randy Gregory, DE/OLB, Nebraska
10. St. Louis Rams - Brandon Scherff, OT, Iowa
11. Minnesota Vikings - Landon Collins, S, Alabama
12. Cleveland Browns - Danny Shelton, DT, Washington
13. New Orleans Saints - Alvin Dupree, OLB, Kentucky
14. Miami Dolphins - DeVante Parker, WR, Louisville
15. San Francisco 49ers - La'el Collins, OG, LSU
16. Houston Texans - Arik Armstead, DT, Oregon
17. San Diego Chargers - Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia
18. Kansas City Chiefs - Trae Waynes, CB, Michigan State
19. Cleveland Browns - Shaq Thompson, LB, Washington
20. Philadelphia Eagles - Jalen Collins, CB, LSU
21. Cincinnati Bengals - Malcom Brown, DT, Texas
22. Pittsburgh Steelers - Marcus Peters, CB, Washington
23. Detroit Lions - Ereck Flowers, OT, Miami
24. Arizona Cardinals - Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin
25. Carolina Panthers - Andrus Peat, OT, Stanford
26. Baltimore Ravens - Eddie Goldman, DT, Florida State
27. Dallas Cowboys - Michael Bennett, DT, Ohio State
28. Denver Broncos - D.J. Humphries, OT, Florida
29. Indianapolis Colts - Cameron Erving, C, Florida State
30. Green Bay Packers - Eric Kendricks, ILB, UCLA
31. New Orleans Saints - T.J. Clemmings, OT, Pittsburgh
32. New England Patriots - Byron Jones, CB, Connecticut
1. Tennessee Titans - Breshad Perriman, WR, UCF
2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Benardrick McKinney, ILB, Mississippi State
3. Oakland Raiders - Owamagbe Odighizuwa, DE, UCLA
4. Jacksonville Jaguars - Dorial Green-Beckham, WR, Missouri
5. New York Jets - Cedric Ogbuehi, OT, Texas A&M
6. Washington - Jake Fisher, OT, Oregon
7. Chicago Bears - Eli Harold, OLB, Virginia
8. New York Giants - Derron Smith, FS, Fresno State
9. St. Louis Rams - Jaelen Strong, WR, Arizona State
10. Atlanta Falcons - Maxx Williams, TE, Minnesota
11. Cleveland Browns - Devin Funchess, WR/TE, Michigan
12. New Orleans Saints - Denzel Perryman, ILB, Miami (FL)
13. Minnesota Vikings - Stephone Anthony, ILB, Clemson
With the 46th pick of the NN community mock draft, Karl Cuba and the San Francisco 49ers select...Carl Davis, DT, Iowa
Others considered: Preston Smith DE Mississippi State , Nelson Agholor WR USC, Sammie Coates WR Auburn.
In the first round I whittled the Niners' needs down to three positions; wide receiver, plus the offensive and defensive lines. The combination of needs and the available talent led to me picking La'el Collins, who should ensure the offensive line is a team strength over the next few years.
I had expected to be writing about adding a third position group for consideration with this pick, I had said that I didn't consider an ILB with my first rounder because there really weren't any worth the fifteenth overall selection. However, as the Niners' turn in this mock approached the inside linebackers that I might have considered at this spot were all plucked off the board. As a result of this I am keeping the position out of consideration for this round too.
So we're back to looking at the receivers and the defensive line, let's have another look at those groups as they stand on the roster right now.
The quality at the top of the receiver group is offset by the major question marks behind them and the presumed retirement of Anquan Boldin. Boldin and Torrey Smith are the clear starters with Bruce Elllington and Quinton Patton as young, developing backups. The forgotten man in the picture that I'd like to mention is Jerome Simpson. He's a classic Baalke signing, his legal history has caused his value on the NFL market to plunge to the veteran minimum. However, before his arrest he was considered a legitimate number three option with the ability to stretch the field deep. His 750 yard seasons do come with a low catch rate but that is mitigated by having a high proportion of deep routes and playing with some really bad quarterbacks. When the best quarterback you've ever caught passes from is a rookie Andy Dalton then you've seen some bad quarterbacks. There is some uncertainty as to what we have in him after a year away from football but in other ways he is more proven than the other backup receivers. The need for some depth and a future starter is accentuated because third and fourth receivers can expect to see significant playing time even if the starters remain healthy.
I had to take a look at Sammie Coates as he is being taken in the lower first round in some mocks, suggesting that he could be a steal in the middle of the second. When I watched him I saw a very good athlete but not a great receiver. His hands and routes are both inconsistent, as is his blocking and he seems to rely far too much on his physical gifts. The problem is that in the NFL the guys covering him will have those same gifts and I worry that he will struggle to separate under those conditions.
Nelson Agholor is a different story. He arrives at the draft as one of the more polished receivers in this class. While you might wonder about whether some receivers in this class know how to set the defender up in their route or where to find the soft spot against zone coverage, you don't have that worry with Agholor. He has many skills that will help him in the pros, he is an accomplished route runner who tends to reach out for the ball and not cradle it into his body and at times he has shown ability as a returner and creating after the catch.
There are knocks on his game. USC receivers have not lived up to their college hype in recent years, he didn't play against the best level of competition and will he be able to win on the perimeter against pro cornerbacks? Ideally your flanker or split end has either the size or the speed to create mismatches against isolation matchups and while Agholor isn't small or slow he also isn't very big or very fast. Overall though, I think he should have a productive career, I'm just not entirely certain if it will be as a starter in most schemes.
I also considered Phillip Dorsett and Devin Smith. I like both players, Dorsett is more physical than you'd expect from a smaller player, is explosive through his cuts downfield and a genuine big play threat with the ball in his hands. You would likely need to find a role for him in your offense though as while he could be very dangerous in featured in the slot he is unlikely to be as effective as a starting receiver. I don't think the niners have been open to such an approach in the past and at this stage I have no clue if there has been a significant change in approach under the new-ish coaching staff. I should also mention his blocking. It's not that he doesn't give it his all, bless him, but you have never seen a football player get trundled backwards that fast that often. He sticks at it and can sometimes get in the way a bit but you'd struggle to give him a D even with the A for effort.
Devin Smith is another good receiver who excels in the deep game, he would instantly require attention from opposing defenses even if he never develops a more rounded route tree. However, he represents a small reach at this spot, he doubles up some of the skill-set we just acquired in Torrey Smith and I prefer Agholor's greater versatility as a receiver.
The other priority position is defensive line, which is also a bit of a mess. I have to make two assumptions, though I hope that neither come to pass. Firstly, I have to plan as if Justin Smith is not coming back for one last season. I know that would break all our hearts but that's the situation I have to deal with. Secondly, without any inside access to see how Lawrence Okoye has developed I must assume that his ceiling for this year is the practice squad.
This means that the guys on the roster right now are Ian Williams and Glenn Dorsey as nose tackles with Tank Carradine, Darnell Dockett and Tony Jerod-Eddie as ends along with Quinton Dial who I still think fits best on the nose, has only played the nose, but has also been referred to by the coaches as an end. There is a nice mixture of talent, youth and experience in that group but what is also endemic is the spectre of injuries.
Carradine has only played a handful of games in his first two years as he experienced a problematic recovery from his torn ACL, Dial has also struggled to see the field with a bad toe and Williams, Dorsey and Dockett all saw their last season finished by injuries. To put it another way, the only one hundred percent healthy defensive lineman we have right now is Jerrod-Eddie, who is a nice reserve but hasn't shown much more than that. When you look at this group over the next three or four years the only long term starters appear to be Carradine or Dial. This group needs help.
The first DL I considered was Preston Smith. There's a lot to like when you read his scouting reports, his triangle numbers (6'5", 275 lbs, 4.75 40 time) are those of a top prospect and he has the frame to add the 15 lbs he would need to play five technique. However, when I watched the tape I came away disappointed. He sometimes gets too high and his hand use is not very good, a bit of a rip and a bull rush without great leverage. What really turned me off him is his lack of intensity. On NFL defenses coached by Lovie Smith every play is graded for effort and any jogging in pursuit is labelled a ‘loaf', if Preston Smith played for him he'd have enough loafs to start his own bread delivery service. You might have to wait for the bread though, he likes to take his time getting there.
His pursuit is bad enough that despite carrying another 50 pounds you will see better hustle to the ball from Carl Davis, the behemoth from the University of Iowa. Davis plays like mongrel of Vince Wilfork and Ray McDonald, he gains leverage by sinking his hips, uses his long arms to press blockers away when disengaging and shows the resilience to stuff the run in a two gap scheme while having the rush techniques to create inside pressure on passing downs. He played all over the line at Iowa and would fit as either an end or nose tackle for the Niners. I prefer him to some defensive linemen that are often mocked in the first round, he doesn't have very much bad tape.
So the final choice came down to Agholor or Davis. This was really close, both groups need reinforcing and I really like both players. Initially I wrote Agholor's name on the card (actually an email to Fooch) before deleting it. There were two thoughts that guided my final decision; for one I couldn't be sure that Agholor would be able to thrive as a starting receiver as opposed to playing the slot, which I view as a lesser position and easier to fill. Finally, with the choice being so close it came down to who I thought would be the better player and I think that will be Davis. I can fully understand those that would have taken Algohor though, it was so close. Davis is a system versatile lineman who could dominate at the next level. Along with Collins in the first, the Niners would be able to rely on quality production from both of their lines for a number of years.