Hello! I’m very excited about hopping on board to help with all things draft-related. I was born and raised in the Bay Area, moved to Los Angeles for college (oft-referred as ‘The Exodus’ by those in my family), and recently moved my way back to Northern California back in April. My first legitimate memory of the San Francisco 49ers is at 8 years old watching the 1998 NFC Wild Card game against the Green Bay Packers; the teams I grew up watching were led by the likes of Steve Young, Jeff Garcia, Tim Rattay (!), — you get the idea.
I know I am not alone in saying “Garoppolo Mania” is real and I am incredibly excited to see how the rest of this will be built. All that being said, the opportunity to cover the 49ers and their draft needs this offseason is a dream, so here are some prospects I am most excited about heading into the combine and the draft.
Tarvarus McFadden, CB, Florida State
It will be very interesting to see how McFadden’s stock unfolds as the offseason progresses. He has everything he needs to be an elite corner down the line; size, speed, ball skills, a cool name, etc. It’s just a matter of getting him a good amount of reps in the right system. I’m not sure if San Francisco would pull the trigger early in the draft on a player who needs a lot of development, but if he starts falling then I would absolutely jump at the chance to pick him up as he would grow into the position and, ultimately, become a highly-regarded defensive back in the NFL.
Allen Lazard, WR, Iowa State
This guy is extremely underrated and I don’t think that that will last for very long - but. if it does, and some team is able to swoop him up in the later rounds then consider it a steal. Lazard stands at 6’5” so he provides quite a sizable target for any quarterback finding himself in the redzone. It’s been said before that Kyle Shanahan doesn’t necessarily need an elite WR1 (I mean, just look at the work he did in Cleveland) so if Lazard starts falling into rounds 3 or 4, I would not mind seeing him rocking the red and gold come training camp.
Ronald Jones II, RB, USC
This one is a little biased on my end since, after all, I have been a contributor over at Conquest Chronicles for the last year or so. I need to be honest and frank with you guys, though: Ronald Jones II can run the ball and he can run the ball well. He didn’t have a lot of receptions coming out the backfield for Sam Darnold but the work that he put in with the help of his running backs coach Deland McCullough (who recently accepted the same position with the Kansas City Chiefs) was impressive as he ended the season with 1.550 yards rushing and 19 touchdowns. It’s hard to see there being a fit for him in San Francisco but whoever picks him up will not be disappointed.
Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, DE/LB, Oklahoma
Okoronkwo was named Big 12 Co-Defensive Player of the year as he was the top play-maker on the defensive side of the ball for the Sooners as he finished 2017 with 8 sacks. He would be a little undersized to be considered as a defensive end (he’s listed at 6’1” and 240 lbs) but he made it work when OU made the switch to a 4-3 midway through the season. Okoronkwo will find a home somewhere (probably as a linebacker) but I can absolutely envision him interchangeably playing defense at several positions in Robert Saleh’s defense.