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Focusing on defense in our second set of NN mock drafts

We’re back with our second round of Niners Nation mock drafts.

The Super Bowl is officially in our rear view mirror, and that means all 32 teams are firmly into the pre-draft process. The NFL Combine is the next major event of the 2018 offseason, and we are three weeks away from that.

In the meantime, it’s time for the next round of 2018 NFL mock drafts from the Niners Nation staff. Greg, Alex, Josh, and Richard have each put together a one-round mock draft. I’ve embedded that down below, but first, here is an explanation from each on their first round pick. Three of the four ended up with the same pick.

Greg Valerio: Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia

Linebacker is not necessarily a high team need for the 49ers, needs change. And yet, there is some uncertainty heading into 2018 for the linebacker depth chart. Most notably, Malcolm Smith is returning from a torn pectoral muscle and Reuben Foster dealt with nagging injuries, and was arrested for marijuana possession shortly into the offseason. Drafting Roquan Smith will help bolster the positional group, potentially making it one of fiercest in the league.

At 6-foot-1-inch weighing 225 pounds, Roquan Smith is a bit undersized, but is a prospect who easily makes plays all over the field (superb range flying sideline-to-sideline), bringing physicality to the game hitting with explosion. Roquan boasts elite instinctual and awareness skills that perfectly marries with his outstanding athleticism making him a dynamic disruptive playmaker. He is fluid in space with sound coverage skills, showing no wasted movement, erupting in chase mode with terrific closing speed finishing off with violence, as well as being an outstanding blitzer attacking inside gaps with speed and aggression. Pairing Roquan (WILL) and Reuben (MIKE) would create a threatening duo of destruction eliminating opponents with tremendous speed and violence wreaking havoc all over the field for the 49ers for years to come.

Josh Eccles: Josh Jackson, CB, Iowa

If it weren’t for the Chicago Bears hiring the now-former Notre Dame offensive line coach Harry Hielstand then I’d say that the Niners would stand a good chance of landing Quenton Nelson with this pick. Chicago needs to protect Mitchell Trubisky, though, so that fits sort of makes too much sense. With the number one offensive lineman off the board by the time San Francisco is on the clock I think Lynch & Co. will turn their attention to the secondary by snagging Josh Jackson out of Iowa. He has all the making of a future number one corner in the NFL - he has length, speed, physicality, and a defensive acumen that has been sorely missed as of late in the 49er’s secondary. I think San Francisco will make the necessary moves at the corner position (both via the draft and free agency) that will help strengthen an already up-and-coming defense.

Alex Eisen: Josh Jackson, CB, Iowa

The 49ers have a pressing need in their secondary, particularly at cornerback. For the longest time the team has lacked a true number one shutdown cornerback. While this pick can go a number of different ways, I believe Jackson can be a vital and elite piece to add to Robert Saleh’s improving defense.

This is my second mock selecting Josh Jackson, and for good reason. The 49ers need a true number one cornerback (which I believe is the team’s number one need), and while we are still early in the process I believe that Jackson is not only the best cornerback in this draft class but a great fit in the 49ers defense. Jackson has great size and length for the position, and his athleticism and physical nature will transition well at the next level. His arm length and wingspan give Jackson the ability to get his hands on the football to break up plays and even create turnovers. Jackson has impressive versatility all over the field, and has demonstrated the ability to defend the short, intermediate, and deep routes.

Watching his tape, Jackson demonstrated time and time again his ability to knock a receiver of his route, and make a play on the ball. His play against Ohio State truly put his name on the map with three interceptions. He makes his presence known against the run as well, and will fight through blocks. On tape, Jackson was utilized on multiple occasions in blitz packages, and has the speed and instincts to put pressure on the passer. Some concerns I see with Jackson include his inconsistent ability to run fluidly through his hips. While he can cover deep routes, he had some difficulties at time going pace-for-pace with the more speedy receivers. As he transitions to the next level, Jackson needs to continue to work on his balance, and run more fluidly through his hips. His 40 time at the combine will be worthwhile. However, his body of work this season make him perhaps the best cornerback option this draft class has to offer. On numerous occasions this season Jackson provided positive momentum shifts for his team, whether it was breaking up a crucial pass, turnover, or pick-six. Be sure to take some time to watch his tape — Jackson should get you really excited as a potential number one corner.

Richard Verderber: Josh Jackson, CB, Iowa

Josh Jackson just makes too much sense the way the board has fallen for the 49ers. He fills a position of great need and has the size and ball skills we desperately need from our corners in Robert Saleh’s defense. Quenton Nelson was an attractive option after the run on quarterbacks, but I had to pass because I like our chances to upgrade the guard position in free agency a lot more than the odds to improve at corner. Jackson may not blow away the world at the combine with numbers like Denzel Ward may put up, but what he would bring to the fold is a great contrast to what we already have in Ahkello Witherspoon. Having two young corners on our defense could serve as a pillar for years to come as we march on toward Lombardi No.6.

NN mock draft 2.0 - post Super Bowl

Pick Team Greg Alex Josh Richard
Pick Team Greg Alex Josh Richard
1 Browns Baker Mayfield, QB - Oklahoma Sam Darnold, QB - USC Sam Darnold, QB - USC Josh Rosen, QB - UCLA
2 Giants Sam Darnold, QB - USC Josh Rosen, QB - UCLA Saquon Barkley, RB - Penn State Saquon Barkley, RB - Penn State
3 Colts Bradley Chubb, DE - NC State Bradley Chubb, DE - N.C. State Bradley Chubb, DE - NCSU Bradley Chubb, DE - NC State
4 Browns Saquon Barkley, RB - Penn State Saquon Barkley, RB - Penn State Minkah Fitzpatrick, CB - Alabama Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB - Alabama
5 Broncos Josh Allen, QB - Wyoming Josh Allen, QB - Wyoming Josh Rosen, QB - UCLA Josh Allen, QB - Wyoming
6 Jets Josh Rosen, QB - UCLA Baker Mayfield, QB - Oklahoma Baker Mayfield, QB - Oklahoma Sam Darnold, QB - USC
7 Buccaneers Quenton Nelson, OG - Notre Dame Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB - Alabama Roquan Smith, LB - Georgia Derwin James, S - FSU
8 Bears Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB - Alabama Calvin Ridley, WR - Alabama Queton Nelson, OG - Notre Dame Denzel Ward, CB - Ohio State
9 49ers Roquan Smith, LB - Georgia Josh Jackson, CB - Iowa Josh Jackson, CB - Iowa Josh Jackson, CB - Iowa
10 Raiders Marcus Davenport, DE - UTSA Roquan Smith, LB - Georgia Tremaine Edmunds, LB - Virginia Tech Roquan Smith, LB - Georgia
11 Dolphins Tremaine Edmunds, LB - Virginia Tech Quenton Nelson, G - Notre Dame Courtland Sutton, WR - SMU Baker Mayfield, QB - Oklahoma
12 Bengals Mike McGlinchey, OT - Notre Dame Tremaine Edmunds, LB - Virgina Tech Denzel Ward, CB - Ohio State Quenton Nelson, OG - Notre Dame
13 Washington Da’Ron Payne, DT - Alabama Derwin James, S - Florida State Josh Allen, QB - Wyoming Da'Ron Payne, DT - Alabama
14 Packers Denzel Ward, CB - Ohio State Denzel Ward, CB - Ohio State Calvin Ridley, WR - Alabama Vita Vea, DT - Washington
15 Cardinals Lamar Jackson, QB - Louisville Lamar Jackson, QB - Lousiville Marcus Davenport, DE - UTSA Mason Rudolph, QB - Oklahoma State
16 Ravens Calvin Ridley, WR - Alabama Courtland Sutton, WR - SMU Derwin James, S - Florida State Tremaine Edmunds, LB - Virginia Tech
17 Chargers Vita Vea, DT - Washington Maurice Hurst, DT - Michigan Vita Vea, DT - Washington Maurice Hurst, DT - Michigan
18 Seahawks Derwin James, S - Florida State Mike McGlinchey, OT - Notre Dame Mike McGlinchey, OT - Notre Dame Mike McGlinchey, OT - Notre Dame
19 Cowboys Courtland Sutton, WR - SMU Mark Andrews, TE - Oklahoma Da’Ron Payne, DT - Alabama Rashaan Evans, LB - Alabama
20 Lions Maurice Hurst, DT - Michigan Da'Ron Payne, DT - Alabama Arden Key, DE - LSU Arden Key, DE - LSU
21 Bills Rashaan Evans, LB - Alabama Vita Vea, DT - Washington Lamar Jackson, QB - Louisville Calvin Ridley, WR - Alabama
22 Bills Billy Price, OG/C - Ohio State Mason Rudolph, QB - Oklahoma State Derrius Guice, RB - LSU Billy Price, C - Ohio State
23 Rams Josh Jackson, CB - Iowa Ronnie Harrison, S - Alabama Maurice Hurst, DT - Michigan Orlando Brown, OT - Oklahoma
24 Panthers Arden Key, DE - LSU Harold Landry, DE - Boston College Billy Price, OG/C - Ohio State Christian Kirk, WR - Texas A&M
25 Titans Harold Landry, DE - Boston College Isaiah Oliver, CB - Colorado Justin Reid, S - Stanford Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, DE/LB - Oklahoma
26 Falcons Isaiah Wynn, OG - Georgia Billy Price, OG/C - Ohio STate Ogbannia Okoronkwo, DE - Okalhoma Taven Bryan, DT - Florida
27 Saints Mark Andrews, TE - Oklahoma Rashaan Evans, LB - ALabama Isaiah Wynn, OG - Georgia Marcus Davenport, DE - UTSA
28 Steelers Derrius Guice, RB - LSU Malik Jefferson, LB - Texas Rashaan Evans, LB - Alabama Brian O'Neill, OT - Pittsburgh
29 Jaguars Dallas Goedert, TE, South Dakota State Orlando Brown, OT - Oklahoma Mark Andrews, TE - Oklahoma Ronnie Harrison, S - Alabama
30 Vikings Connor Williams, OT - Texas Connor Williams, OT - Texas Orlando Brown, OT - Okalhoma Connor Williams, OT - Texas
31 Patriots Jaire Alexander, CB - New England Arden Key, DE - LSU Ronnie Harrison, S - Alabama Harold Landry, DE - Boston College
32 Eagles Martinas Rankin, OT - Mississippi State Isaiah Wynn, OG - Georgia Conor Williams, OT - Texas Chukwuma Okorafor, OT - Western Michigan