The 2018 NFL Combine gets going in a little over a week, and that has most draft analysts getting content together. Mock drafts are naturally all the rage, and various sports networks are getting their teams together to put out whatever mock drafts they can.
CBS Sports had their five draft writers update their 2018 NFL mock drafts this past week. Four of the five are not surprising, with three taking Florida State safety Derwin James, and one taking Virginia Tech linebacker Tremaine Edmunds. James is a utility guy who can play a host of positions, while Edmunds fills a potentially growing need at linebacker.
However, Chris Trapasso might have the most interesting of the five mock drafts. He has Penn State running back Saquon Barkley slipping down to the San Francisco 49ers at No. 9/10. Here is what his top eight look like before the 49ers pick.
1. Cleveland Browns — QB Baker Mayfield
2. New York Giants — QB Sam Darnold
3. Indianapolis Colts — Edge Bradley Chubb
4. Cleveland Browns — CB Joshua Jackson
5. Arizona Cardinals — QB Josh Rosen (trade up with Denver Broncos who he sees signing Kirk Cousins)
6. New York Jets — QB Josh Allen
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers — DB Minkah Fitzpatrick
8. Chicago Bears —WR Calvin Ridley
Fitzpatrick is viewed as the most likely top defensive back off the board, so that would be a bit of an upset at this point. Plenty could change, but Jackson is in his own fight with Denzel Ward to be the first pure corner off the board. Ridley has been in the teens in a lot of mock drafts. The Bears have a lot of needs, and getting Mitchell Trubisky more skill position players is probably pretty high on the list.
All of this is to say, it is certainly possibly enough upsets happen that Saquon Barkley slips out of the top eight. I would be surprised if it happened, but not shocked. And that would certainly put the 49ers in position to make a big decision.
Here are the five CBS Sports mock drafts.
The 49ers focused on defense last year, then landed Jimmy Garoppolo via trade with New England. So more defense here, especially with a super versatile player like James who can move all over the field.
San Francisco’s pass defense was an outright disaster in 2017, ranking 28th in the league per Football Outsiders’ DVOA. James can help clean up the back end of a defense that needs a whole lot of help.
He could play the “Leo” pass-rushing spot in their scheme. They could also opt to take a corner.
At this point, I think the best (and only?) possibility Barkley goes in the top five is if he’s picked by Cleveland at No. 4. The next four teams aren’t picking a running back. That would leave Barkley to be scooped up by the Jimmy G-led 49ers.
John Lynch showed in his first draft as 49ers GM that building a quality defense is a top priority, as the 49ers drafted Solomon Thomas and Reuben Foster in the first round and followed that up by taking Ahkello Witherspoon in the second round. James can be a Swiss Army knife for the 49ers’ defense while giving the team yet another building block on that side of the ball.