We are a week and a day away from the NFL Draft, and it cannot get here soon enough. The draft has become far more fascinating now that the San Francisco 49ers have two first-round picks. Let’s take a look at what mock drafts think the Niners will do:
ESPN (Mel Kiper Jr.) - WR Ceedee Lamb, CB Noah Igbinoghene
I love this pick for the 49ers, who lost Emmanuel Sanders in free agency. Lamb is a big-play threat and a technician as a route runner, and he’d be a great complement to the versatility of Deebo Samuel. San Francisco has two first-round picks — it got this one after trading DeForest Buckner to the Colts — but doesn’t have picks in the second, third or fourth rounds, so watch out for a potential trade down to accumulate more assets.
Since I gave the 49ers a wide receiver with their first pick, consider this two needs filled. The defense had issues on the other side of Richard Sherman all last season, and Sherman is 32 and only signed through 2020. San Francisco has to get younger here. Igbinoghene is raw, but he has tremendous upside. He’s also a dynamite kick returner — check out this 96-yard TD return. As I mentioned earlier, the 49ers could trade down from this pick with teams wanting to get back into the first round to draft someone and attain his fifth-year option.
The Athletic, Dane Brugler - WR Henry Ruggs, IOL Cesar Ruiz
The 49ers will be hunting for another offensive playmaker in this draft and Ruggs could be that guy. He is a ridiculous athlete who could be a lot of fun in Kyle Shanahan’s offense, forcing defenses to account for him, Deebo Samuel and George Kittle.
With the 49ers not picking again until the fifth round, good bet they look to trade back (maybe for a team looking to trade up for Jordan Love?). But if they stay put, upgrading the interior offensive line is on the priority list and Ruiz has big upside as a center-guard.
Ryan Wilson, CBS - WR Henry Ruggs, CB Trevon Diggs
The 49ers could choose to trade out of this pick but if they stay put they’ll almost certainly have their choice of Lamb, Jeudy or Ruggs. Ruggs’ 4.27 speed alongside Deebo Samuel makes San Francisco’s offense even more dangerous with Kyle Shanahan dialing up plays.
Stefon Diggs’ brother is a big cornerback with — not surprisingly — great ball skills. He’ll be insurance for Richard Sherman, who has one more year left on his deal.
Bucky Brooks, NFL.Com - DT Javon Kinlaw, CB Trevon Diggs
The 49ers could replace DeForest Buckner with another long, athletic defender with disruptive potential.
It’s the perfect time for San Francisco to add Richard Sherman’s successor. Diggs is a natural fit for the 49ers’ Cover 3 scheme as a converted wide receiver with length and outstanding ball skills.
Daniel Jeremiah, NFL.Com - WR Henry Ruggs, DT Ross Blacklock
Let’s take a minute and just imagine Ruggs in the hands of a creative play-caller like Kyle Shanahan.
The 49ers will likely trade down to stockpile selections, as they currently don’t hold a pick in Rounds 2-4.
PFF, Sam Monson - WR Henry Ruggs, CB Trevon Diggs
The 49ers were one of the fastest teams in the NFL last season and they add the fastest player in the draft in Ruggs. Head coach Kyle Shanahan knows how to get his playmakers in space, and he’ll use Ruggs’ 4.2 speed down the field, on deep crossers and in the jet-sweep/end-around game. Ruggs has more polish to his game than most speed receivers, but he’s still a tick behind some of the others as far as well-roundedness goes Still, his speed is a game-changer for opposing defenses, and the pairing with Shanahan is one of the best in the draft.
The 49ers add cornerback depth with Diggs, who fits their system that covets long corners on the outside. He had some ups and downs at Alabama, but he finished with the second-best coverage grade among cornerbacks when targeted in single coverage last season — an important grade when looking to project corners to the NFL. Diggs doesn’t have to play right away, but he provides immediate competition for incumbents Emmanuel Moseley and Ahkello Witherspoon.
Dan Kadar, SB Nation - WR Jerry Jeudy, CB Kristian Fulton
TERRIBLE SPORTS WRITING ALERT: Things went pretty well for the 49ers the last time they took a Jerry in the draft. The year was 1985, and the player was Jerry Rice. I think you know the rest of this story, nyuk nyuk nyuk
The 49ers will need help in the secondary sooner rather than later, and Fulton could be their next lead cornerback. Fulton may not create a lot of interceptions (he had just two at LSU), but he knows how to break up passes thanks to his instincts and timing.
Luke Easterling, USA TODAY - WR Henry Ruggs, DT Ross Blacklock
Zach Buckley, Bleacher Report - WR Jerry Jeudy, OT Ezra Cleveland
Jenny Ventras, Sports Illustrated - WR CeeDee Lamb, CB Kristian Fulton
Like the Raiders, the Niners have needs at both receiver and corner. They’re in good position to nab one of the top two receivers here to replace half-season rental Emmanuel Sanders. Lamb can line up all over the field and has a knack for YAC.
After this pick, the 49ers aren’t scheduled to go on the clock again until the fifth round, so they are another prime trade-down candidate. Regardless of when they pick, it will make sense for them to add some young talent to the secondary.
Adding it all up
Ruggs - 5
Lamb - 2
Jeudy - 2
Kinlaw - 1
Diggs - 3
Fulton - 2
Blacklock - 2
Cleveland - 1
Igbinoghene - 1
Ruiz - 1
The first mock draft roundup we saw Jeudy mocked the most to the 49ers. Last week it was Lamb, so it’s only fitting that it’s Ruggs this week. As for pick No. 31, I’ve asked what makes Diggs worthy of a first-round pick, and nobody can give me a concrete answer. Most mocks believe the 49ers will go cornerback with their second selection of the round, but I’d bet the Niners trade back and won’t select a cornerback until the third round when they add that selection. I doubt Ruiz is available. My money is on him going to the Cowboys.