If the San Francisco 49ers stay put at number two, they are likely going to draft Nick Bosa from Ohio State, or Quinnen Williams from Alabama. Both players are incredibly talented. It’s tough to have a wrong answer there. What happens if John Lynch gets an offer he can’t refuse? Then what? Well, he will be faced with a pool of players that we are not considering. In the event that this happens, here are two players that the Niners should avoid on each side of the ball if they trade back.
WR D.K. Metcalf-Ole Miss
Metcalf has the highest ceiling of any wide receiver to come out of the draft in recent memory. The problem is the former Rebel is far from a finished product. Let’s say the 49ers stay in the top 15. Metcalf is widely regarded as the number one receiver in the draft. That does not mean he warrants a top 15 selection. Here are his three biggest drawbacks to me.
- Linear athlete
- Route running
- Route tree
I want to make this clear: Metcalf is good. I also want to make this clear: He is not Julio, Calvin, or any of the other greats thats came out. Those guys were insane players early on in their college careers. There’s a production argument with Metcalf. That can go a couple of different ways. His shuttle times were concerning. Not just because they were awful, but because they show up when you watch him play. Metcalf ran a 7.38 3-cone and a 4.5 short shuttle. For reference, Solomon Thomas ran a 6.95 3-cone. Deforest Buckner ran a short shuttle of 4.47. They do not play wide receiver.
Metcalf is such an explosive athlete that he is able to create separation at the line of scrimmage. I’ve seen many point out the first play of Alabama, where he scored on a long touchdown. Context is key. The corner he beat was benched after that play. That same corner gave up 5 touchdowns all year, gave up 61% of passes his way, for a passer rating of 105 when targeted. He wasn’t very good. After that Metcalf disappeared. In 2017, Metcalf faced two quality corners from Bama and struggled. The same can be said this year against LSU’s Greedy Williams. Metcalf just couldn’t shake loose. You see that he is a linear athlete when he has to stop and start, or break down to change directions. He’s a big guy. That’s not too surprising. It is concerning, though.
The last thing on Metcalf is what he was asked to do. Metcalf had zero catches in the slot. He lined up about 80% on the left side of the formation, seemingly. That might not seem like an issue, but previous players have had difficulty overcoming this. Former first round pick and now Arizona Cardinals WR Kevin White was like that coming out of West Virginia. When you consistently practice releasing only one way, or routes from one side, there’s a learning curve. With Metcalf, it was a deep route or a slant, with a curl route mixed in here and there.
Against Williams and LSU, that was a perfect example of what the NFL will be like. You’re not going to be able to just run by everyone and score. Will there be opportunities to do so? Of course. They will be few and far between if Metcalf doesn’t add a little nuance to his route running. If you watch him run underneath routes, like a curl, there’s an extra hop in there. That’s where the shuttle drills show up. For this, and a double digit drop rate, I’d pass early in the first round. Good? Yes. I would only take a receiver in the first round if I felt like there were very few questions. This isn’t the case. Add in who is calling plays for the 49ers and no thanks.
LB Josh Allen-Kentucky
I am higher on Metcalf as a player than Allen, so, brace yourself. You never root against a kid, but this has bust written all over it. That’s not to say he doesn’t have value. Allen absolutely does. If you can get to the quarterback and get the offense off of the field, you can play in the NFL. Allen can do that. Here are my three biggest issues with Allen.
- Counter move
- Strength at the point of attack
Allen is fast, but he’s not explosive. Explosive players jar your helmet back when they get their hands on you. That’s not the case with Allen. With the 49ers, Allen would play on the strong side of the formation, opposite of Dee Ford. He is plenty quick enough to play on the line of scrimmage, as he will out athlete tackles and tight ends against the run. He can also win with speed around the edge. The issue is when that athleticism doesn’t work.
Allen’s lack of counter moves are concerning. That’s why he’s a notch below the Bosa, Williams, and Brian Burns of this class. Too often during games you’ll see Allen get stuck rushing the passer. That’s generally the case when you don’t have a plan. I like judging guys when they go against top competition. He made Florida’s right tackle Jawaan Taylor look like peak Joe Staley. There wasn’t an answer for Taylor, who is a pretty good athlete himself.
Because Allen will likely be playing on the line of scrimmage in this defense, you have to be concerned with his ability to set the edge or hold his ground at the point of attack. Again, athleticism will only get you so far if you are not refined in the NFL. You saw Taylor get give up the edge against the run, or get destroyed against double teams. These weren’t just a play here or there. It was consistent.
Speaking of consistent, Allen lacks that. There are too many inconsistencies in Allen’s game for me to say he’s worthy of a top pick. The “dog” in him is inconsistent. Perhaps that’s him being unsure of what he’s doing. Whether that be dropping into coverage, or looping around on a stunt. There were too many plays where I felt like Allen didn’t finish the play. Let’s say there are 10 plays. On three of those, it’ll be a short yardage play and he will blow it up and look like a sure fire top pick. On the other seven he comes off as lackadaisical. I can’t co-sign that.
Allen seems at his best when he can run and chase. He’s more linebacker than pure pass rusher. That’s not what you take in the top 15. Not unrefined pass rushers. There’s an argument to be made in his favor that on the Niners he’ll be the third rusher. That does have significance. With there likely to be better pass rushers available, or players in general, there’s no need to reach on Allen. Because of that, I’d be out on him.
Is there a player that you want to avoid in the first round if the 49ers trade down?