FanPost

A Prospective 2018 Roster ... Part II

In Part I of the post I projected a 2018 defensive roster ... reflecting another 20% turnover of the current defense with five new faces in place. Projected to be gone were Aaron Lynch, Eli Harold, Ray-Ray Armstrong, Brock Coyle, and Jimmie Ward. Of those players, Ward and Lynch are probably the most controversial. Lynch simply hasn't been serious enough about his football career to become a reliable and consistent player IMO. As for Ward, I see two difficulties: (1) he's a 'tweener ... not big enough to be a superior NFL safety and not fast or big enough to be a superior corner in Saleh's scheme, and (2) more importantly if you're not superior, at $8 million per year, he's just too expensive for the limited skill-set that he brings. Some would argue "but he was a first-round pick" ... to which I respond "I don't give a damn where he was drafted, I only care about results ... and Ward isn't performing well enough or consistently enough to play one of the most important defensive positions in this scheme if the real goal is to become a playoff team." (New England is the classic case of a team that pays for current performance. They win consistently because if a guy is not performing, he's gone ... via trade or release. Conversely, Baalke was an example of a guy who did not adopt the "pay for current performance" approach. That's how we ended up with the insane contracts that prevent the team from refreshing the roster with guys who perform now.) We need to do better than Lynch and Ward ... and we can.

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Now let's tackle the offensive side of the ball.

QUARTERBACK (3)

Present Roster: Brian Hoyer, CJ Beathard

Practice Squad / IR: Nick Mullens

Gone: Brian Hoyer, Nick Mullens

Projected Free Agent: QB Kirk Cousins (Washington)

Projected Draftee: Pick #16 in the 1st round ... QB Luke Falk (Washington State)

Yes, I would love to select Josh Rosen or Mason Rudolph early in the first round of the draft; but if you sign Kirk Cousins I don't think that it makes sense to also use a top-5 pick on another QB who will ride the bench for a while. A superior free safety or edge rusher in the top-5 adds far more to team strength and growth. As between Edge and FS, the forthcoming draft class is very deep in Edge rushers ... and many with similar talent levels. Conversely, there are only two FS prospects worthy of a high-round selection ... and if you want the best it must be in the very early first round; Derwin James will go in the first six picks. Since we need both an Edge and a FS, I conclude that FS early in the first is the right way to go. We can still select an outstanding Edge prospect at Pick #35 in the early second round.

But then what do you do about a QB prospect? Once again, my views may differ from what other people believe. I see CJ Beathard as potentially a very good backup QB (think Steve Bono back in the day), but I do not believe that he has the talent or skill-set to be a successful NFL starter over an extended period. (If he were he would not have still been available in the third round of this year's draft ... Brady-like luck to the contrary.) We still need to add a QBOTF IMO ... who, baring Brady-like luck, will only be available in the first round. Thus, after taking the premier safety in the early first round, we have to trade back into the first round to also get a good QB prospect.

Here is a statistical analysis of career-to-date performances (through last weekend) of the likely top 7 QB prospects in the 2018 NFL draft:

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Statistic

Mayfield

Falk

Rudolph

Jackson

Rosen

Allen

Darnold

Measurements

6-1/218

6-4/225

6-5/230

6-3/200

6-4/220

6-5/233

6-4/225

Games Started

39

36

34

31

24

21

19

Passing Yards

11,615

12,888

10,623

7,373

7,719

4,131

4,791

Completion %

68.4

69.2

63.1

57.3

61.1

56.0

66.3

Touchdowns

103

108

71

56

50

34

43

Interceptions

24

28

21

21

21

18

18

QB Rating

171.8

146.9

159.0

144.1

141.2

137.7

154.6

Pass Yds / Game

298

358

312

238

322

197

252

TDs / Game

2.64

3.00

2.09

1.81

2.08

1.62

2.26

INTs / Game

0.63

0.77

0.62

0.68

0.88

0.86

0.95

TD / INT Ratio

4.3

3.9

3.4

2.7

2.4

1.9

2.4

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(So, what do Falk's stats look like for just this his senior year? Just plain ridiculous. 6 games, 2,000 yards passing, 71.8% pass completion rate, 19 TDs, 2 INTs, 158.3 QBR, 3.17 TDs/game, .33 INTs/game, 9.50 TD/INT ratio.)

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Rosen, Rudolph and Darnold (IF he opts to come out) will be selected in the top 10 picks. The next most talented prospect for Shanahan's scheme in next spring's draft IMO is Luke Falk ... but he will likely be selected within the first 20 picks. Thus, if targeting Falk, you need to trade up into the mid-first-round to get him. By using two mid-second-round picks, which we will have, we can do just that. Thus, I propose such a trade.

Falk has all of the size, toughness, mental acuity, defense-reading, and throwing-accuracy strengths that Shanahan looks for in a QB ... possibly second only to Rosen in those areas. Watching Falk play QB (I've watched 15 of his games) is like watching an expert dart thrower in a tournament ... he has that kind of quick release and is that incredibly accurate. Alternatively, Falk's obvious weakness is that he has only played collegiately, outstandingly, in Mike Leach's Air Raid scheme ... but make no mistake, the guy can throw the football and is smarter and reads the field better than most QB prospects. With Cousins in place as the starter, Falk would have the time to learn a new offensive scheme and the necessary footwork needed to succeed, and he's certainly smart enough to do just that.

As for Hoyer, he did the short-term job that he was hired to do and was handsomely paid for it.

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2018 Projected Roster: 2018 free agent Kirk Cousins, CJ Beathard, 2018 1st-round draftee Luke Falk

Practice Squad: None ... 3 QBs on the Final-53

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RUNNING BACK (4)

Present Roster: Carlos Hyde (contract expires after season), Matt Breida, Raheem Mostert (contract expires after season)

Practice Squad / IR: Joe Williams, Jeremy McNichols

Gone: Raheem Mostert

The only real question here is whether Hyde's contract gets extended or not. The first hurdle is his performing well (as a runner, receiver, and blocker) this season in Shanahan's scheme. Assuming that he does that, the next hurdle is the dollar expectations that Hyde and his agent have for an extension. If it's reasonable, in addition to having played well, I think that he gets extended. But, if Carlos wants to test the market and try to attract big bucks, I really don't see the Niners getting into a bidding war. The Shanahans have NEVER opted to pursue and/or pay high-round RBs; they (via Bobby Turner as RB coach) have consistently succeeded using mid-round guys ... seemingly forever; if Carlos is reasonable, he stays; else, he goes. Let's assume, at least for now, that they work it out.

Mostert has some talent but he simply loses out in the numbers game.

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2018 Projected Roster: Carlos Hyde, Joe Williams, Matt Breida, Jeremy McNichols

2018 Practice Squad: Raheem Mostert ... if he doesn't sign somewhere else

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FULLBACK (1)

Nothing to discuss.

2018 Projected Roster: Kyle Juszczyk

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WIDE RECEIVER (6)

Present Roster: Pierre Garcon, Marquise Goodwin, Aldrick Robinson, Trent Taylor, Kendrick Bourne, Victor Bolden

Practice Squad / IR: DeAndre Smelter (contract expires after season), Aaron Burbridge, DeAndre Carter

This is a tough call, but I expect to see a lot of turnover at the WR position in the second season of the Lynch/Shanahan regime with a veteran QB in place as the starter. Here's how I project it sorting out:

Gone: Marquise Goodwin, Aldrick Robinson, DeAndre Smelter, Aaron Burbridge, DeAndre Carter

This is strictly the result of the numbers game. If you plan to add a veteran upgrade to go with Garcon and plan to draft a WR who can be developed to add to the good young talent already in place, there simply aren't enough spots to accommodate everyone ... pay your money and take your choice. As was true with cuts this year, all other things being equal, youth will prevail.

Projected Free Agent: Given Garcon being in place (and familiar to Cousins) and the youth of the overall roster, I believe that the preference is to try to develop young receivers rather than spend big money on free agents. Thus, I don't see the Niners chasing after expensive guys like Alshon Jeffrey or Sammy Watkins. Rather, there will be a number of mid-level free agent receivers available next spring. Adding a better, relatively young yet experienced veteran to the mix would be helpful IMO. I think that that is what they tried to do with Goodwin and Robinson but they proved to have too many flaws and/or inconsistencies. Possibilities this time around (in alphabetical order) could include: Dontrelle Inman (Chargers), Jarvis Landry (Miami), Jordan Mathews (Buffalo), Terrelle Pryor (Washington) or Allen Robinson (Jacksonville).

Projected Draftee: Possible mid-round selections could include Auden Tate (Florida State), Parris Campbell (Ohio State), Dante Pettis (Washington), Jaylen Smith (Louisville), Darren Carrington (Utah) and Cedric Wilson (Boise State).

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2018 Projected Roster: Pierre Garcon, Trent Taylor, Kendrick Bourne, Victor Bolden, 2018 free agent, 2018 draftee

2018 Practice Squad: Who knows?

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TIGHT END (3)

Present Roster: George Kittle, Logan Paulsen (contract expires after season), Garrett Celek

Practice Squad / IR: Cole Hikutini

With Cousins assumed to be on board, here is a position that could be substantially upgraded via free agency. Who the hell knows what the Bengals will do with respect to extending their forthcoming free agents ... last year they let 7 guys with expiring contracts walk ... including OG Kevin Zeitler, OT Andrew Whitworth and DT Domata Peko. If Cincinnati doesn't extend him, my free agent target here is Tyler Eifert, Cincinnati's 2013 first-round draft choice.

Gone: Logan Paulsen, Garrett Celek

Projected Free Agent: TE Tyler Eifert (Cincinnati)

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2018 Projected Roster: 2018 free agent Tyler Eifert, George Kittle, Cole Hikutini

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OFFENSIVE TACKLE (3)

Present Roster: Joe Staley, Trent Brown, Garry Gilliam (contract expires after season)

Practice Squad / IR: Darrell Williams, Pace Murphy

My views on the OL differ from some others. A number of people seem to want to draft an OT as early in the forthcoming draft as possible. I don't buy that for two reasons: (1) I think that the weakness of our current OL is inside, not with the OTs; (2) we can't address all roster needs at once and I believe that fixing other more critical positions with early draft picks is more important than OT in 2018. Accordingly, I would prefer to focus on fixing the interior OL and go after Staley's eventual replacement early in the 2019 draft.

Gone: Garry Gilliam ... I don't think that his contract gets extended because I think that Darrell Williams showed enough promise in the pre-season this year to warrant the back-up position in 2018, assuming that he continues to develop during this season.

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2018 Projected Roster: Joe Staley, Trent Brown, Darrell Williams

2018 Practice Squad: Pace Murphy

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OFFENSIVE GUARD (3)

Present Roster: Laken Tomlinson, Brandon Fusco (contract expires after season), Zane Beadles

Practice Squad / IR: Joshua Garnett, John Flynn

Obviously this position is in need of an upgrade. Both former first-rounders (Tomlinson and Garnett) are extremely intelligent and I believe can be effective when they learn Shanahan's scheme and have the opportunity to work together as a three-man unit next season. Beadles has been an absolute disaster.

Gone: Zane Beadles, Brandon Fusco ... I don't think that Fusco's contract gets extended; his roster spot will be assumed by a rookie draftee.

Projected Draftee: Possible third-round selections could include Damian Prince (Maryland), Billy Price (Ohio State) or Larry Allen (Harvard).

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2018 Projected Roster: Laken Tomlinson, Joshua Garnett, 2018 3rd-round draftee

2018 Practice Squad: John Flynn

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CENTER (2)

Present Roster: Daniel Kilgore, Erik Magnuson

We need a substantial upgrade a the center position ... Kilgore's play has been nothing more than mediocre when he isn't injured. In the past the Shanahans have shown a preference for an above-average veteran center to make the OL calls in their offensive scheme. I don't believe that Magnuson is close to being ready to step up and would prefer to sign a young but NFL-experienced veteran.

Gone: Daniel Kilgore

Projected Free Agent: C Weston Richburg (Giants) ... this is the guy that Baalke should have selected when he opted for Marcus Martin in 2014 ... better late than never.

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2018 Projected Roster: FA Weston Richburg, Erik Magnuson

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So, with Part I and the above, there you have all of the detail. To summarize, looking at the entire projected 53-man roster, here are the free agents I'd like to see signed, the first four round draftees that I'd like to see selected, and the resulting 2018 Final-53 roster that I'd like to see:

2018 Free Agent Signings:

QB Kirk Cousins (Washington)

Mid-range Wide Receiver ... Inman (Chargers), Landry (Miami), Mathews (Buffalo), Pryor (Washington), Robinson (Jacksonville)

TE Tyler Eifert (Cincinnati)

C Weston Richburg (Giants)

Mid-range Cornerback ... Bethel (Arizona), Butler (New England), Claiborne (Jets), Fuller (Chicago), House (Green Bay)

Possibly Edge Rusher ... Ansah (Detroit), Lawrence (Dallas)

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2018 Draftees:

Round 1: FS Derwin James (Florida State)

Round 1: QB Luke Falk (Washington State)

Round 2: Edge Rusher ... Sweat (Florida State), Ejiofor (Wake Forest), Hand (Alabama), Hubbard (Ohio State), Armstrong (Kansas), Ferrell (Clemson)

Round 3: Offensive Guard ... Prince (Maryland), Price (Ohio State), Allen (Harvard), O'Connell (Washington State)

Round 3: Wide Receiver ... Tate (Florida State), Campbell (Ohio State), Pettis (Washington), Smith (Louisville), Carrington (Utah), Wilson (Boise State)

Round 4: CB Quenton Meeks (Stanford)

Beyond: BPA

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SUMMARY OF PROJECTED ROSTER TURNOVER

Quarterback (3)

Gone: Brian Hoyer

Remaining: CJ Beathard

Added: FA Kirk Cousins, Draftee Luke Falk

Running Back (4)

Gone: Raheem Mostert

Remaining: Carlos Hyde, Matt Breida, Joe Williams, Jeremy McNichols

Fullback (1)

Remaining: Kyle Juszczyk

Wide Receiver (6)

Gone: Marquise Goodwin, Aldrick Robinson

Remaining: Pierre Garcon, Trent Taylor, Kendrick Bourne, Victor Bolden

Added: 2018 Free Agent, 2018 Draftee

Tight End (3)

Gone: Logan Paulsen, Garrett Celek

Remaining: George Kittle, Cole Hikutini

Added: FA Tyler Eifert

OFFENSIVE TACKLE (3)

Gone: Garry Gilliam

Remaining: Joe Staley, Trent Brown, Darrell Williams

OFFENSIVE GUARD (3)

Gone: Zane Beadles, Brandon Fusco

Remaining: Laken Tomlinson, Joshua Garnett

Added: 2018 Draftee

CENTER (2)

Gone: Daniel Kilgore

Remaining: Erik Magnuson

Added: FA Weston Richburg

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NOSE TACKLE (2)

Remaining: Earl Mitchell, DJ Jones

DEFENSIVE TACKLE (2)

Gone: Chris Jones

Remaining: DeForest Buckner, Xavier Cooper

STRONG-SIDE END (2)

Remaining: Arik Armstead, Tank Carradine

WEAK-SIDE END -- LEO (3)

Gone: Aaron Lynch

Remaining: Solomon Thomas, Elvis Dumervil

Added: 2018 Draftee

Possibly Added: FA Ziggy Ansah or FA DeMarcus Lawrence (in lieu of Dumervil)

STRONG-SIDE LINEBACKER (2)

Gone: Eli Harold, Donavin Newsome, Jimmie Gilbert

Remaining: Dakoda Watson, Pita Taumoepenu

WEAK-SIDE LINEBACKER (2)

Gone: Ray-Ray Armstrong

Remaining: Malcolm Smith, Elijah Lee

MIDDLE LINEBACKER (2)

Gone: Brock Coyle

Remaining: Reuben Foster, NaVorro Bowman

STRONG SAFETY (2)

Remaining: Eric Reid, Jacquiski Tartt

FREE SAFETY (2)

Gone: Jimmie Ward, Don Jones

Remaining: Lorenzo Jerome

Added: Draftee Derwin James

CORNERBACK (6)

Gone: Dontae Johnson, Asa Jackson, Prince Charles Iworah

Remaining: Rashard Robinson, K'Waun Williams, Ahkello Witherspoon, Will Redmond

Added: 2018 Free Agent, Draftee Quenton Meeks

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.SPECIAL TEAMS (3)

Remaining: K Robbie Gould, P Bradley Pinion, LS Kyle Nelson

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Were all of my projections to come to pass it would result in a 74% cumulative turnover of the Final-53 roster since the start of the Lynch/Peters/Shanahan regime. Only 14 players selected by Baalke would still remain:

On offense (4): OT Joe Staley, OT Trent Brown, RB Carlos Hyde and OG Joshua Garnett

On defense (8): DL Tank Carradine, DL Arik Armstead, DL DeForest Buckner, LB NaVorro Bowman, S Eric Reid, S Jacquiski Tartt, CB Rashard Robinson and CB Will Redmond

On special teams (2): P Bradley Pinion and LS Kyle Nelson

In my opinion this projected 53-man roster would be very competitive and would have a shot to be a wildcard playoff team in 2018, depending upon how fast the new faces can be assimilated and the young talent continue to develop. What do you think?

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of Niners Nation's writers or editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of Niners Nation's writers or editors.