The past week has been a busy one for ESPN draft analysts Mel Kiper and Todd McShay. Last week, they put together dueling mock drafts, where they predicted what each team would do over the course of two rounds. This week, they’re putting on their GM hat and mocking out what each team should do with three rounds worth of picks.
1 (9): Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia
2 (59): Isaiah Oliver, CB, Colorado
3 (70): Dante Pettis, WR, Washington
3 (74): Kerryon Johnson, RB, Auburn
The uncertainty around Reuben Foster’s future has me rethinking the 49ers’ first pick. They have a glaring need at cornerback, but Smith is the type of talent that is tough to pass up. And if Foster gets his off-field issues straightened up, Smith could move outside to weakside linebacker, and San Francisco would have one of the most talented front sevens in the league.
Oliver fills the hole at cornerback, as he can compete with Ahkello Witherspoon for the spot opposite Richard Sherman (if the longtime Seahawks corner is healthy). Pettis is a dynamite punt returner -- he set an FBS record for career punt return touchdowns with nine -- and can be a deep threat. Johnson might be a steal here. He was one of the best backs in college football in 2017.
I’m not entirely sold on Roquan Smith at No. 9, but I do like this draft more than what McShay rolled out on Tuesday. I’m leaning more towards Tremaine Edmunds than Smith, but I know opinions vary on the two linebackers. In Kiper’s mock, Edmunds, Denzel Ward, Derwin James, and Marcus Davenport are among the handful of players who drop behind the 49ers.
Oliver is an intriguing option for the 49ers. He’s got the size and speed to be a strong addition to the secondary. The 49ers worked him out, and seem to have some level of interest in Ahkello Witherspoon’s former Colorado teammate. He could add significant competition and provide an answer when the 49ers are ready to move on from Richard Sherman.
I find myself particularly intrigued by Dante Pettis. He’s one of the best punt returners in college football history, and would add another deep threat to the passing game. The 49ers are bringing him in for an official visit.
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