The 2016 NFL Draft starts two weeks from Thursday, and that means mock drafts are working to get a little more creative. In his latest 2016 NFL mock draft, Todd McShay is posting his "Grade: A" 3-round mock draft. The idea behind it is that rather than projecting how the draft will go, he looks at each team's best pick in each round. He describes this more as viewing value up and down the board, rather than which team might like a guy more than a team earlier in the draft.
In assessing the San Francisco 49ers top needs, he comes up with a very interesting trio of picks. He has the 49ers landing Florida State defensive back Jalen Ramsey in the first round, Memphis quarterback Paxton Lynch in the second round, and Rutgers wide receiver Leonte Carroo in the third round.
Here is how the first six picks go, thus setting up Ramsey at No. 7:
1. Tennessee Titans: Laremy Tunsil, OT, Ole Miss
2. Cleveland Browns: Carson Wentz, QB, North Dakota State
3. San Diego Chargers: DeForest Buckner, DT, Oregon
4. Dallas Cowboys: Jared Goff, QB, Cal
5. Jacksonville Jaguars: Myles Jack, ILB, UCLA
6. Baltimore Ravens: Joey Bosa, DE, Ohio State
For those wondering how Paxton Lynch slipped to the 49ers in the second round, he actually has Connor Cook going off the board first, to the Denver Broncos at No. 31. Here is the analysis McShay provided for his 49ers picks:
If Goff or Wentz had been on the board at No. 7, I wouldn't have hesitated to take one of them, but I didn't want to reach for Lynch or Connor Cook, neither of whom have a first-round grade in my book. So I went with Ramsey, the best player on my board. No, he doesn't have elite ball skills, but he has proven that he can play both corner and safety at a high level, and he's a truly rare athlete. Lynch has outstanding mobility for his size (6-foot-7) and it'd be fun to see how Chip Kelly would develop his raw skill set. With Quinton Patton (36 catches in three years) in the mix for the No. 2 WR role right now, the 49ers need to take a hard look at this wide receiver class. Carroo comes with terrific ball skills and polished route-running abilities.
If Ramsey slipped to the 49ers at No. 7, I would think the 49ers would sprint to the podium with their pick. Well, unless they got a true Godfather offer for the pick. But Ramsey is viewed by many as the best player on the board this year. That is up for debate, but there is no denying his talent. I don't think defensive back is the top need for this team, but given the re-building process, best player available at No. 7 is perfectly fine with me.
Paxton Lynch is a fairly divisive QB prospect. At one point he was viewed as a potential top ten pick, but while Goff and Wentz seemed to solidify their top ten status, analysts have moved him further down the list. Lynch and Cook seem like strong bets to be the next two quarterbacks off the board, but the order is getting harder to figure. All it takes is one team liking a quarterback for things to shake up. The Los Angeles Rams and Philadelphia Eagles are both teams that could potentially use a development option.
McShay's mock did not include trades, so plenty would change in that regard, and likely would impact Lynch and Cook. I think we see at least one trade for a quarterback. My guess is it involves the middle to end of the first round, as opposed to a trade up high in the first round.