The Cleveland Browns are expected to select Texas A&M pass rusher Myles Garrett with the No. 1 pick when the 2017 NFL Draft arrives later this spring. They could decide a quarterback is the pick, and in that case, the San Francisco 49ers would seem a strong bet to draft Garrett. However, with most mock drafts assuming Garrett going No. 1, 49ers mock drafts have focused on UNC quarterback Mitch Trubisky, Alabama defensive lineman Jonathan Allen, and Alabama inside linebacker Reuben Foster. There are some others mixed in, but those are the big three for the time being.
Rotoworld’s Josh Norris put together a 2017 NFL mock draft on Tuesday, and he went with an alternative at No. 2. He had the 49ers selecting Tennessee pass rusher Derek Barnett. Here is what he said about the pick:
This is a difficult one. The 49ers likely won’t draft Jonathan Allen after adding Arik Armstead and DeForest Buckner over the last two years. Maybe they like a quarterback. If not, Barnett could be viewed as the second-best edge rusher.
While Garrett is viewed as the top pass rusher, Barnett will have the next three months to show that he is worthy of being second off the board at that position. And the 49ers desperately need help in their pass rush.
At this point they would head into the 2017 season with Ahmad Brooks and Aaron Lynch as their starters. Brooks is fast approaching the end of his career, and while he remains productive, he is not a long term option. Lynch has a lot of tools, but he struggles with weight, and of course had the suspension to start this past season. The team drafted Tank Carradine and Eli Harold, but neither has proven to be a clear starting option.
Barnett has not been projected particularly high in the first round. There are always workout warriors who jump up the draft board on the heels of strong Combine and Pro Day performances. It will be interesting to see what the next few months bring with Barnett and his draft stock, at least among the media.