The San Francisco 49ers have a host of needs to fill next week in the 2018 NFL Draft, and ESPN is here with a look at some good fits throughout the draft. We’re seeing every angle in mock drafts, and on Wednesday, Scouts Inc’s Steve Muench took a new look at it. He broke down three prospects each team should consider, but split it up to one prospect for each day of the draft.
Day one covers the first round, day two covers rounds two and three, and day three covers rounds four through seven. The 49ers pick No. 9 on day one. They don’t have their original second round pick due to the Jimmy Garoppolo trade, but then have three draft picks over the course of 16 between the second and third round.
Muench suggested Alabama defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick as the team’s day one pick. He looks at Fitzpatrick as someone to pair with Jaquiski Tartt. No mention of Adrian Colbert.
Free safety Jimmie Ward has sustained season-ending injuries in three of the past four seasons and could get another look at corner. Pairing Fitzpatrick with Jaquiski Tartt would give the 49ers a young, talented safety tandem. Fitzpatrick is at his best playing close to the line of scrimmage. He has the speed to cover deep and is an above-average run defender. He’s at his best at safety but has the tools to develop into an effective press corner. The 49ers could try him on the outside in an emergency.
For the day two pick, Muench suggested UCLA wide receiver Jordan Lasley. The 6’1, 210 pound pass catcher closed out his college career in a big way, finishing with 69 receptions for 1,264 yards and nine touchdowns. Lasley has dealt with a host of issues on and and off the field that makes him a serious roll of the dice.
San Francisco needs a receiver to push Pierre Garçon, who turns 32 in August and missed the final eight games of the 2017 season with a neck injury. UCLA suspended Lasley multiple times and he drops too many passes, but he has the potential to be a difference-making starter in the NFL -- especially as a vertical receiver. He could turn into a Day 2 steal.
Muench’s final pick was Arizona State outside linebacker Christian Sam. He suggested Sam as someone who could play in the middle or on the strong side, while Lance Zierlein sees him as middle or weak side linebacker.
Sam may never be more than a two-down linebacker based on the tape, but he tested better than expected and is a tough run defender with the versatility to play on the strong side and in the middle.
On this last pick, I’m curious to see how the 49ers address linebacker in the draft. I’m pretty sure they’ll add at least one linebacker, but I’m curious to see if they approach the position looking for a jack of all trades, or they focus on someone who is best suited for one of the more specific linebacker roles.