The NFL free agency tampering period is underway, and players will begin formally signing contracts at 1 p.m. PT today. We know a lot of the big name signings, as well as numerous trades that have been agreed to over the past three weeks. But most mock drafts do not yet reflect the change in needs for most teams.
With that in mind, I thought it would be fun to take a look at our updated mock draft database before free agency signings shake up most mock drafts. Additionally, a lot of people don’t even start doing mock drafts until after free agency gets going, so we’ll be able to update further with those in the coming days.
The 49ers are expected to add running back Jerick McKinnon and center/guard Weston Richburg to their roster after 1 p.m. today. Additionally, they signed cornerback Richard Sherman over the weekend. Those are three starters added to the mix. It decreases the priority to some degree for those positions, but it does not eliminate the need.
Notre Dame offensive guard Quenton Nelson currently leads our database with six appearances. He is followed by Ohio State cornerback Denzel Ward, Florida State safety Derwin James, and Virginia Tech linebacker Tremaine Edmunds with five appearances each.
The Richburg signing leaves some questions about where he will play. His best work has come at center, and Daniel Kilgore’s deal is likely cheap enough that the team is comfortable with Richburg claiming the starting center role. The question then becomes whether or not Kilgore takes a guard role, ends up as a utility interior lineman, or just gets cut like the 49ers did after extending Jeremy Kerley a year ago.
The Sherman signing does not preclude the 49ers from adding more cornerback talent, but it seems unlikely we see them spend the ninth overall pick on the position. Sherman and Ahkello Witherspoon would appear to be your two starters. K’Waun Williams is covering the slot, and the team will look to add one or two more corners for depth.
We’ll start to see some changes in mock drafts as soon as the next couple days. For the 49ers, safety could still remain in the mix, particularly a versatile safety like Derwin James. Linebacker also remains realistic with Eli Harold entering his last year, questions surrounding Reuben Foster, and Malcolm Smith not necessarily a long-term option.
I could see wide receiver getting some love in upcoming mock drafts. I don’t actually think the 49ers will invest a first round pick in the position, but there will be a perception given that the 49ers initially do not appear to be investing heavily in the position in free agency. Where the 49ers end up spending a pick on the wide receiver position (if at all) will tell us plenty about what they think of Kendrick Bourne and others.