The San Francisco 49ers will have some decisions to make in April when they are likely drafting in the top five, and potentially as high as No. 2. No, I do not think the Cleveland Browns are going to win.
A recurring feature of 2018 NFL mock drafts has been the 49ers picking Penn State running back Saquon Barkley. He is extremely talented, and it is entirely possible John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan could decide he is so much of an impact player that he is worth their first round pick.
While running back could be an area of need, there is a chance there will be some significantly better options on the defensive side of the ball to provide an upgrade. To wit, in his latest 2018 NFL mock draft for Draftwire, Luke Easterling went with Boston College edge rusher Harold Landry. Here’s what Easterling said about the pick.
Saquon Barkley is the popular pick here, but I’m not sure the 49ers would spent this pick on a running back. Pass-rushers tend to be more valuable in this range, and Landry would give them another explosive weapon on the edge to pair with last year’s top pick, Solomon Thomas.
This would be the fourth straight year the 49ers have drafted a defensive lineman, but Niners Wire writer Rob Lowder made a couple good points about the 49ers recent picks.
I can understand the frustration, but all “defensive ends” coming out of college aren’t created equal.— Rob Lowder (@Rob_Lowder) December 1, 2017
Landry: LEO (mock)
There’s zero question the #49ers need a pure pass rusher. https://t.co/DfB8xwX9uM
It’s also worth noting that Armstread and Buckner were chosen by the previous regime. Lynch and Shanahan are going to take the players they covet, even if it means forcing a former RND1 pick into an awkward spot (Armstead.)— Rob Lowder (@Rob_Lowder) December 1, 2017
DeForest Buckner is turning into a potential cornerstone player. Arik Armstead has dealt with injury woes, and the team will have to decide this offseason whether or not to pick up his fifth year option. He should be healthy by then, but given the injury guarantee on fifth year options, it is no sure thing the 49ers exercise it.
Regardless, they need a serious impact player in their pass rush. You can stumble across them later, but if they see Landry as the kind of guy who will make an impact right away, this pick makes a lot of sense. The defense has taken some positive steps this season, but adding someone who can consistently get to the quarterback would be a huge addition that could help improve the secondary as well. The less time the quarterback has to pass, the less time cornerbacks have to keep cover on receivers.
The 49ers rank No. 30 in adjusted sack rate. DeForest Buckner has done good work getting pressure, but he has not been able to consistently close the deal and get the sack. Adding help in the pass rush would boost the unit overall, including Buckner.
Here’s the full list of 49ers picks in the Draft Wire mock draft.
1 (2). Harold Landry, Edge, Boston College
2 (58). Christian Kirk, WR, Texas A&M
3 (66). Mason Cole, OL, Michigan
3 (70). Anthony Averett, CB, Alabama
4 (127). Akrum Wadley, RB, Iowa