With the NFL Combine in the rearview mirror, it’s back to the mock draft grind until free agency hits, at which point all of this can swing wildly. Todd McShay of ESPN jumped into the fray for the third time with his 2018 mock draft 3.0.
There hasn’t been a ton of deviation in who folks think the San Francisco 49ers will pick. That will, of course, be informed by free agency, but there are a few positions that should probably be addressed regardless of what happens in free agency, including linebacker. Especially a fast linebacker who can rush the passer if needed.
Enter McShay’s pick, not an uncommon one: Virginia Tech linebacker/defensive end Tremaine Edmunds:
The 49ers need another cornerback, but in this scenario Ward is gone at No. 8. The 49ers have invested heavily on the defensive line high in previous drafts, but I think they look to the second level of the defense here. And Edmunds is a gift at No. 9. At 6-foot-4, 254 pounds, he has elite speed (4.47 40) and athleticism -- and he’s only 19. Edmunds has the ability to play off the ball on first and second downs and rush the QB on obvious passing downs.
It’s not an unpopular pick — in mock drafts or by 49ers fans. Yesterday, we talked about the latest mock draft from SB Nation’s Dan Kadar, in which the 49ers took cornerback Denzel Ward of Ohio State. In McShay’s mock, the Chicago Bears take Ward, despite tagging Kyle Fuller. McShay says the Bears still need a “lockdown cornerback,” and that Ward is that guy.
And of course, McShay mentions Ward in the 49ers’ pick as well. I think Ward is a good fit for the 49ers, unlike a lot of people around here, but I’m fine with Edmunds as well, for the most part. If the 49ers don’t bring in ANY pass-rushing help in free agency, then Edmunds is definitely the pick over, say, Roquan Smith. But if they do get some, somehow, I’d prefer Smith.
Still, the needs evolve and could change quite a bit in the very near future.