NFL mock drafts are often projections based on what people think a team needs, or based on what people see reported around the Internet. However, some mock drafts can provide potential insight into what teams are really thinking. Draft Insider writer Tony Pauline has contacts all around the league, which we see in his numerous reports on prospect meetings with teams. Some of that info likely comes from agents, but I don't know if anybody has more rumors than Pauline.
On Tuesday, Pauline released an 8-team mock draft based on what he has heard from various teams.
1. Los Angeles Rams - Jared Goff
2. Philadelphia Eagles - Carson Wentz
3. San Diego Chargers - DeForest Buckner
4. Dallas Cowboys - Jalen Ramsey
5. Jacksonville Jaguars - Myles Jack
6. Baltimore Ravens - Laremy Tunsil
7. San Francisco 49ers - Ronnie Stanley
8. Cleveland Browns - Joey Bosa
Pauline also said that the Chargers "feel they desperately need a defensive lineman," and the San Francisco 49ers "desperately covet DeForest Buckner." We've heard the 49ers have interest in DeForest Buckner at No. 7, but Matt Miller has also said Ronnie Stanley is on the board if Buckner is gone. The 49ers have a lot of needs, but at No. 7, they are all but guaranteed to get a player who can contribute immediately as a starter in Stanley's case, or serious rotational player in Buckner's case.
The last two years, they drafted Arik Armstead and Jimmie Ward. Ward was a more immediate contributor, but neither was viewed as a traditional starter out of the gate. The 49ers do use a lot of nickel, so that meant plenty of work for Ward, but not a full allotment of cornerback or safety snaps. With Stanley, they'd likely be looking at their starting right tackle. With Buckner, he would more likely be a major rotational player. The 49ers could start Quinton Dial and Arik Armstead on the outsides of their 3-4 base defense, but with the extra snaps the defense will be playing due to the Chip Kelly offense, Buckner would still end up with a lot of snaps both in the 3-4 base and as a defensive tackle in the nickel.
No mock draft is going to be perfect, but Pauline's is intriguing given his connections around the league. And really, most of those eight picks make sense. Trades could shake it up, but that mock draft would not be a surprising result on Thursday.