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Top-10 prospect rankings at each position

Alex makes his return to discuss some prospects for us to watch during the upcoming bowl games

Big Ten Championship Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Greetings faithful! After some time away, I am proud to make my return to Niners Nation! What better time for me to return than now as the wheels of the draft season begin to turn. I am looking forward to once again providing you with all the draft content you can handle. From prospect, rankings to mock drafts, scouting reports, and coverages of the combine, pro days, and draft day weekend, I will try my very best to paint as clear of a picture as we prepare to welcome the future to our San Francisco 49ers.

To start, today’s article will focus on prospect rankings at each position, as well as a preview of San Francisco 49ers team needs, and a sneak peek at some prospects to keep an early eye on. As a bonus, I will throw in my Heisman thoughts and prediction and provide a list of Bowl Games I will be writing and covering in the upcoming days. Once again, it is great to be back, and let’s now jump in and breakdown prospect rankings per position. As always, I greatly appreciate your feedback and comments. Please share your thoughts below!

Important Note: My prospect rankings are based on NFL potential and transition to the pro level. It isn’t based on who has the highest stats, publicity, national spotlight, popularity, or momentum, whether on the field or social media.

Quarterbacks

There seems to be growing momentum that a change at the most important position might happen in Santa Clara. Is Jimmy Garoppolo the answer? I think we have seen more than enough from Nick Mullens, and C.J. Beathard riding the bench this long should tell you all you need to know about Shanahan’s trust in him. Josh Rosen? I’ve seen stranger things, but it’s a LONG shot at best. Anyhow, there will be plenty of debates and discussions about who will be playing quarterback for the 49ers. For now, here are my rankings for the prospected 2021 Draft Class.

  1. Trevor Lawrence - Clemson
  2. Justin Fields – Ohio State
  3. Zach Wilson – BYU
  4. Trey Lance – North Dakota State
  5. Mac Jones – Alabama
  6. Kyle Trask – Florida
  7. Jamie Newman – Georgia
  8. Brock Purdy – Iowa State
  9. Kenny Pickett – Pittsburgh
  10. Kellen Mond – Texas A&M

Offensive Line

The San Francisco 49ers will have some decisions to make along the offensive line. Will Trent Williams be back in 2021 and beyond? Who is playing center? Can Mike McGlinchey rebound and become the right tackle we all hoped he would be when the Niners drafted him in 2018? A lot of questions…and I don’t know about you, but this is one of the last areas of the field I want a lot of questions and concerns about.

  1. Penei Sewell – Oregon
  2. Wyatt Davis – Ohio State
  3. Rashawn Slater – Northwestern
  4. Alijah Vera-Tucker – USC
  5. Samuel Cosmi - Texas
  6. Christian Darrisaw – Virginia Tech
  7. Jalen Mayfield – Michigan
  8. Trey Smith – Tennessee
  9. Jackson Carman – Clemson
  10. Alex Leatherwood – Alabama

Running Back

  1. Najee Harris – Alabama
  2. Travis Etienne – Clemson
  3. Kenneth Gainwell – Memphis
  4. Jaret Patterson – Buffalo
  5. Rhamondre Stevenson – Oklahoma
  6. Michael Carter – North Carolina
  7. Chuba Hubbard – Oklahoma State
  8. Trey Sermon – Ohio State
  9. Javonte Williams – North Carolina
  10. Kylin Hill – Mississippi State

Wide Receiver:

  1. Ja’Marr Chase – LSU
  2. De’Vonta Smith – Alabama
  3. Jaylen Waddle – Alabama
  4. Rashod Bateman - Minnesota
  5. Rondale Moore – Purdue
  6. Amon-Ra St. Brown – USC
  7. Terrance Marshall – LSU
  8. Dazz Newsome – North Carolina
  9. Tylan Wallace – Oklahoma State
  10. Chris Olave – Ohio State

Special Note: Justyn Ross (Clemson) has been excluded from my rankings as I expect him to return to school for his senior season after he had season-ending neck surgery in 2020.

Tight End:

  1. Kyle Pitts – Florida
  2. Brevin Jordan – Miami
  3. Pat Freiermuth – Penn State
  4. Jake Ferguson – Wisconsin
  5. Charlie Kolar – Iowa State
  6. Matt Bushman – BYU
  7. Jeremy Ruckert – Ohio State
  8. Trae Barry – Jacksonville State
  9. Quintin Morris – Bowling Green
  10. Trey McBride – Colorado State

Defense:

***Defensive Line and EDGE players can be shifted before the Combine. As a result, these rankings are and will continue to be fluid.

Defensive Line

  1. Kwity Paye – Michigan
  2. Christian Barmore – Alabama
  3. Levi Onwuzurike – Washington
  4. Daviyon Nixon – Iowa
  5. Jay Tufele – USC
  6. Marvin Wilson – Florida State
  7. Jared Goldwire – Louisville
  8. Jerome Johnson – Indiana
  9. Jordan Davis – Georgia
  10. LaBryan Ray – Alabama

EDGE:

  1. Gregory Rousseau – Miami
  2. Jayson Oweh – Penn State
  3. Aidan Hutchinson - Michigan
  4. Quincy Roche – Miami
  5. Chris Rumph II – Duke
  6. Carlos Bashman Jr. – Wake Forest
  7. Hamilcar Rashed Jr. – Oregon State
  8. Joe Tryon – Washington
  9. Patrick Jones II – Pittsburgh
  10. Payton Turner – Houston

Linebacker:

  1. Micha Parsons – Penn State
  2. Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah – Notre Dame
  3. Joseph Ossai – Texas
  4. Azeez Ojulari – Georgia
  5. Zaven Collins – Tulsa
  6. Nick Bolton – Missouri
  7. Dylan Moses – Alabama
  8. Baron Browning – Ohio State
  9. Jabril Cox – LSU
  10. Chazz Surratt – North Carolina

Cornerback:

  1. Patrick Surtain II – Alabama
  2. Jaycee Horn – South Carolina
  3. Shaun Wade – Ohio State
  4. Caleb Farley – Virginia Tech
  5. Derion Kendrick – Clemson
  6. Asante Samuel Jr. – Florida State
  7. Tyson Campbell – Georgia
  8. Paulson Adebo – Stanford
  9. Eric Stokes – Georgia
  10. Josh Jobe – Alabama

Safety:

  1. Paris Ford – Pittsburgh
  2. Jevon Holland- Oregon
  3. Andre Cisco – Syracuse
  4. Trevon Moehrig – TCU
  5. Bubba Bolden – Miami
  6. Caden Sterns – Texas
  7. Ar’Darius Washington – TCU
  8. Richard LeCounte – Georgia
  9. Kolby Harvell-Peel – Oklahoma State
  10. Reed Blankenship -Middle Tennessee

San Francisco 49ers Team Needs:

Cornerback, Offensive Line, Quarterback, Safety, Defensive Line.

By far, the biggest offseason project will be in the secondary and particularly at cornerback. Here are the following corners who are due to hit free agency after this season: Richard Sherman, Jason Verrett, Ahkello Witherspoon, Dontae Johnson, K’Waun Williams, Jamar Taylor, and Emmanuel Moseley (RFA) are all scheduled to hit free agency this offseason. That should have everyone’s undivided attention. I know many are screaming for a quarterback in the first round, and maybe that’s the pathway the front office goes. However, currently at the 12th pick, game-changing physical ballhawks such as Patrick Surtain II and Jaycee Horn can be too tempting to pass up. No matter what direction the front office goes at the quarterback position, if the 49ers hope to return to the playoffs in 2021, the cornerback and offensive line MUST be addressed.

Heisman Watch:

The four finalists for the Heisman Trophy have been announced: Mac Jones (QB), Alabama, De’Vonta Smith (WR), Alabama, Trevor Lawrence (QB) Clemson, and Kyle Trask (QB) Florida. This might be the most open Heisman Race in quite some time. You can make a strong argument for any of the four mentioned above. Quite frankly, it would be refreshing to see Smith take home the award. Smith would be the first wide receiver to win the award since 1991 when Desmond Howard out of Michigan took home the honors.

Prediction:

I learned my lesson a long time ago with the Heisman Trophy. I’ve learned that it is not necessarily the best player in college football but the most productive, and there is a difference between the two. If it were the best player in college football, the award would have gone to Andrew Luck in 2012 and Deshaun Watson in 2016. If we are talking about the best player in 2020, the Heisman will go to Trevor Lawrence. However, the most productive player in college football this season is Mac Jones, who will take home the honors on January 5th. Like it or not…agree or disagree…, and I respectfully disagree somewhat…that is how the Heisman is awarded. Let’s see how it unfolds on January 5th…however, my pick is Mac Jones.

Upcoming:

I will be covering the following bowl games as well as prospects for 49ers fan to keep a close eye on:

Rose Bowl – Alabama vs. Notre Dame – January 1st, 2021

Sugar Bowl – Clemson vs. Ohio State – January 1st, 2021

CFP National Championship Game – Teams TBD – January 11th, 2021

Orange Bowl – Texas A&M vs. North Carolina – January 2nd, 2021

Fiesta Bowl – Iowa State vs. Oregon – January 2nd, 2021

Cotton Bowl – Oklahoma vs. Florida – December 30th, 2020

Alamo Bowl – Texas vs. Colorado – December 29th, 2020

Cheez-It Bowl - Miami vs. Oklahoma State – December 29th, 2020

Feedback

What prospects are you interested in learning more about? Please provide names in the comments, and I will be happy to do a scouting report and breakdown on them during our lead-up to the draft!

Closing

I want to take this opportunity to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a happy & healthy holiday season!