For the past several months, we all have been inundated with mock drafts from all over the media realm, and if you are like me, you have done more than your fair share of mock draft simulations online - my go to “mobile game” by the way. Well, today is the day when mock drafts die as the hours count down on draft day zero. Therefore, while we all anxiously await the official start of the words “The Cleveland Browns Are On The Clock”, I am here to add one final mock draft of wishful thinking, or what Peter King likens to, “a monument to futility”.
I have no doubt the 49ers will be heavily active in trades during the draft process. Ideally, my desire is for the team to trade back in the first round with the hopes of gathering several more Day 2 picks. Staying at nine gives the team the opportunity to select in an area where impactful starting players could definitely help the 49ers, and although we have several needs that additional draft capital could alleviate, drafting high quality starter talent is imperative to build the foundation. Moreover, John Lynch mentioned during his pre-draft update presser that the 49ers have about 12 prospects projected to be Pro Bowlers, so it is safe to assume if the 49ers stay put at nine, we walk away with a Pro Bowl talent, which sounds good to me.
There are no trades in my seven round 49ers mock, it is simply a down the line straight up picking of all nine picks with a bonus eight undrafted free agent rookie signings to fill out the 90-man roster. I am standing by the Matt Maiocco philosophy of never projecting trades in mocks: “I’d rather be wrong than be wrong twice”. Also, my selection of picks are not necessarily picks I personally would make, but selections I feel John Lynch & Co. would make and are picks that are likely to have some grumbling within the fan base.
Round 1 (9)
Minkah Fitzpatrick - CB/S - Alabama
I was tempted to go with my long-time draft crush in LB Roquan Smith with the pick - especially after the Reuben Foster ordeal - but I think the 49ers stick to their board and select a player I believe Lynch has coveted for a very long time. Fitzpatrick is top-tier talent with tremendous instincts, ball skills, and the versatility to make Robert Saleh salivate with so many opportunities to put Fitzpatrick in winning situations (effectively skilled at corner, nickel corner, nickel linebacker, and safety). The 49ers get an extremely hard working high character leader with a passion for football and the conviction to succeed.
Round 2 (59)
Arden Key – EDGE - LSU
The pick here is simply a boom or bust opportunity I believe the 49ers are wiling to make in the second round. The team is all about players with the desired passion for football, so drafting Key would be a bit of a head-scratcher; nevertheless, I think the team has done their research and conducted enough interviews to come away gambling on the selection. It helps there is strong veteran leadership in Richard Sherman to aid in lighting the fire, as well as newfound leadership with the first pick in Minkah Fitzpatrick. Regardless, there is no question that when Arden Key is on his a-game, he is a dynamic playmaker. Key wins with pure athleticism easily changing directions beating opponents with elite agility and speed, but when he flashes technique in concert with his athleticism, he becomes a dominant force wreaking havoc all over the field. The question remains, does he have the motivation and passion to want it.
Round 3 (70)
Brian O’Neil - OT - Pitt
Protection for Jimmy Garoppolo is going to be key to the 49ers future success, and with an aging Joe Staley, as well as Trent Brown playing on the final year of his contract, the future of the position is in need. Plus, it is a great opportunity for the 49ers to find players who fit the mold to run Kyle Shanahan’s scheme. A converted tight end and former high school basketball star, Brian O’Neil offers the desired athletic ability (excellent speed and agility) to be a future tackle in Shanahan’s zone blocking scheme. He has the versatility to play both tackle positions and although he is a bit raw to the position, coming from a pro style offense and being a quick learner, O’Neill is an ideal prospect still cooking in the oven that will develop into a future starter. Physical development is definitely on his horizon.
Round 3 (74)
Fred Warner - LB - BYU
Fred Warner is a hybrid linebacker with the skill set to play both in and out of the box. He is an extremely explosive linebacker that plays with solid athleticism and speed, as well as being a dependable tackler hitting with power behind his pads making plays in space. However, it is Warner’s impressive coverage and range skills that makes him extremely dangerous, but he also possesses decent bulk-ability (albeit will need to add more weight to his frame in order to improve play strength) to take on the run too. He will jolt larger blockers separating with his active hands, quickness, and athleticism bursting to make the tackle hitting with explosion. He is one of the better coverage linebackers with tremendous ball skills and has an innate ability to make a lot of plays with his eyes. Warner is an ideal WILL linebacker with the growth potential to become more versatile.
Round 4 (128)
Quenton Meeks - CB - Stanford
Adding more depth to the corner position, Quenton Meeks is a long athletic corner with good size and length for the position. The former high school football, baseball, and track and field athlete boasts the size, physicalness, and athleticism to fit well in a scheme allowing corners to press, jam, stack, and overwhelm receivers. Meeks plays with a physical presence and the toughness and instincts to solidify the boundary displaying good fluidity in his hips to open up (good shuffle) and the quick feet and enough speed to trail sticking to the hip pocket recovering with his length and impressive instincts. He has good range and speed and takes full advantage of his size and length to win contested match-ups. Meeks is a sound cover corner and is solid in run support (good open-filled tackler) with a physical demeanor hitting with explosion.
Round 5 (143)
Colby Gossett - OG - Appalachian State
Colby Gossett is an athletic quick footed guard prospect showcasing impressive fluid lateral movement and explosion to reach the second level promptly. Adept in a zone blocking scheme, Gossett displays the ideal frame, length, and movement speed using angles well (shows great hip flexibility) finishing blocks all the way to the whistle. He shows impressive lateral agility adjusting to movement and using his hands to stifle and steer defenders. He flashes a good anchor, but has a tendency to lose on leverage with high pad level and will need to improve technique as well as functional strength at the next level. A very smooth athlete with the versatility to play the tackle position. Video below RG No. 70.
Round 6 (184)
Justin Watson - WR - Pennsylvania
Justin Watson is an underrated prospect who has dominated the competition in the Ivy League. An extremely productive and athletic prospect, Watson is a natural pass catcher with excellent hands - can consistently one-hand grab like the best of them. He is a fluid route runner with a smoothness to his game displaying good bend on breaks coming out quickly with great athleticism, nice footwork, quickness, and burst. He is solid in intermediate routes and shows the burst and speed to take the top off coverages displaying impressive skills tracking the ball over his shoulder and the savviness to separate in a crowd. Shows inside and outside versatility with tremendous toughness in his game. A high character strong work ethic (quick learner) prospect that brings size (6025), speed (4.42 40), and the ability to separate at the next level.
Round 7 (223)
Jullian Taylor - DT - Temple
After missing the majority of the 2015 (meniscus) and 2016 (ACL) college football season with leg injuries on the same leg, Jullian Taylor showed impressive promise throughout his senior campaign. The 6-foot-5-inch 294 pound prospect is a well built defensive tackle that is very athletic and nimble (nice balance) for a man his size with decent speed and great foot quickness. He shows quick burst off the line, uses hands very well and is a penetrating disruptive force in the backfield. Taylor has a nose for the football displaying a good ability to play front-side blocks at the point of attack with solid functional strength and the quickness and fluidity to disengage (takes advantage of his length). He shows an excellent ability to defend against back-side blocks maneuvering through the trash with impressive quickness and closing speed. A sleeper prospect that adds depth to the defensive line.
Round 7 (240)
Olasunkanmi Adeniyi “Ola” - EDGE - Toledo
Ola is an explosive edge defender that wreaks havoc in the backfield (19.5 tackles for loss and 8.5 sacks). Although undersized and shows scheme limitations at the next level, Ola is an ideal situational pass rusher in the 49ers’ defensive scheme utilizing his burst, penetrating speed, fluid change of direction skills, and the ideal bend (nice dip of the shoulder) you love to see from your edge defenders. A true disruptive force, Ola displays enough size - a thick and stout frame - and is very athletic and strong with a relentless pursuit to the ball carrier. Showcases a tremendous quick first-step and a consistent high-motor always running hot. Displays solid strength at the point of attack and the ability to stand up and play in space (although not his strong point).
Priority undrafted free agent rookie signings:
1. Chad Kanoff - QB - Princeton
2. Trenton Cannon - RB - Virginia State
3. Quadree Henderson - WR - Pittsburgh
4. Austin Proehl - WR - North Carolina
5. Sean Welsh - OG/C - Iowa
6. John Franklin - DE - Stephen F. Austin
7. Frank Ginda - LB - San Jose State
8. Charvarius Ward - CB - Middle Tennessee