As we get closer to the NFL Draft, I’m seeing more and more San Francisco 49ers say, “we have to draft player X at No. 13.” Instead of marrying yourself to a player and setting yourself up for inevitable disappointment, I’d look at the draft in different scenarios instead. Jerry Jeudy would be a fantastic fit, that’s not even a question. What we should be asking is if Jeudy and another player at No. 31 is the best possible outcome for the 49ers. Let’s talk through a few different scenarios.
Scenario 1— Jeudy and LT Ezra Cleveland
As far as team fits, good luck finding a better combination than these two. You’ve heard plenty about Jeudy, and Alex will have a video on him later this afternoon. As for Cleveland, the left tackle out of Boise State is tailor-made for the 49ers offense. The Niners have met with Cleveland, who projects perfectly into an outside zone scheme. Cleveland also has one of the higher ceilings at left tackle.
Scenario 2—C.J. Henderson and Justin Jefferson
There is a plausible scenario where Jeudy, CeeDee Lamb, and Henry Ruggs are all gone before the 49ers pick. In this case, there isn’t a lineman worth taking at No. 13, so C.J. Henderson is the pick. He’s paired with LSU’s Jefferson who primarily played in the slot during 2019, but played on the outside in 2018. Jefferson struggled against press-man coverage in limited reps but has the athleticism and experience in zone coverage to get open. Henderson is closer to Jeff Okduah as the top cornerback than many believe. Still, No. 13 feels like a touch high for him.
Scenario 3—Tristan Wirfs and Tee Higgins
I caught some flack—deservedly so—when I said I wouldn’t draft a lineman high in the draft and would prefer someone that can score or stop the offense from scoring. From a value standpoint, the likelihood of a lineman reaching “first-round potential” is slim. This guy by the name of Bill Walsh is where that take evolved from, where he spoke about building around skill players and getting the ball out quickly at coaching clinics. Walsh took one offensive lineman in his first four drafts in his first stint as GM with the Niners.
There are outliers. There always are. Football isn’t black and white, which is why this year, Wirfs and Mehki Becton are worthy of this pick. Wirfs can be an All-Pro guard. His floor at guard is sky-high. I’d love for the 49ers to take him. Both he and Becton move so well that they’re going to be good pros at tackle as well. Higgins fell off the radar as he didn’t test particularly well, but he’s a good football player. Higgins is also a perfect complement to Deebo Samuel.
Onto some links:
5 sleeper targets for 49ers on day three of 2020 NFL Draft (Niners Noise)