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Who would the 49ers pick if the draft was based purely on college production?

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The draft is regularly about potential over production. But what if only production mattered?

The NFL Draft features the most talented football players available, and yet often times potential can trump on-field production. A player with limited experience might go higher than a four-year starter because scouts see the former as having an untapped ceiling and the latter having shown what people can expect from him. That’s not always the case, but it happens every year.

Mock drafts factor in the potential consideration, and it results in a host of different results. College production is not entirely objective, but you have some basic metrics for comparison. There are basic metrics for considering potential, but we are talking about something that is inherently intangible.

We’ve seen countless mock drafts the past three months, but SB Nation decided to have a little fun with it on Friday. Four writers took a look at purely college production in mocking out the first round. We see a lot of the same names going in the top ten, but they are not in the usual order, and we do have some surprises.

The draft features three quarterbacks to start things off, but the trio are Baker Mayfield, Lamar Jackson, and Mason Rudolph. Josh Rosen drops to the Buffalo Bills at No. 12, while Josh Allen drops out of the first round entirely. The other notable changes at the QB position see Ohio State’s J.T. Barrett going No. 11 to the Miami Dolphins, and Memphis’ Riley Ferguson going No. 29 to the Jacksonville Jaguars.

The San Francisco 49ers end up with Iowa cornerback Joshua Jackson, who is the second corner off the board, right behind Ohio State’s Denzel Ward. Here’s what SB Nation had to say about the pick.

The 49ers don’t just need a cornerback — they need someone who can make a quarterback instantly regret throwing a pass the second it leaves his hand. Last season, San Francisco finished in the bottom third of the NFL in both interceptions and total takeaways. Enter first-team All-American Josh Jackson. He only started for one year at Iowa, but that’s all he needed to prove he could make quarterbacks pay. In his final season, he led FBS in interceptions (eight) — including two pick-sixes in the same game — and passes defended (26). Besides, who doesn’t love Pacey?

Jackson has been mocked to the 49ers in some mock drafts, but usually he has been dropping a bit further behind. That being said, a draft that sees Minkah Fitzpatrick then Denzel Ward then Josh Jackson would not be entirely surprising.