We’re not past the Senior Bowl and about a month away from free agency. The NFL Combine isn’t happening this year. Instead, there will be regional Pro Days to gather information. We’ll continue to do weekly mock draft roundups until there is more info on the players who have declared for the NFL Draft.
Here’s a look at the most recent mock drafts. It’s more of the usual, with a surprise thrown in here and there.
San Francisco has five cornerbacks headed for unrestricted free agency (including Richard Sherman and Jason Verrett) and two more as exclusive rights free agents. Surtain was Alabama’s best CB the last two seasons and is coming off a strong junior campaign.
12. San Francisco 49ers: Rashawn Slater, OT, Northwestern
With all the quarterbacks off the board, the 49ers get one of the best offensive linemen in this draft. Tackle is not this massive need for the 49ers, but the value here is undeniable.
San Francisco is a weird place where Slater may actually work inside-out. It would be no surprise to slot Slater in at guard or center, given the needs along this offensive line. Slater’s athleticism and balance are a perfect fit in Kyle Shanahan’s zone-heavy scheme.
Round Two, Picks 43-52
43. San Francisco 49ers: Asante Samuel Jr., CB, Florida State
102. San Francisco 49ers: Talanoa Hufanga, S, USC
117. San Francisco 49ers: Dayo Odeyingbo, EDGE, Vanderbilt
While the 49ers would be smart to send a package of picks and players to a team drafting inside the top-three to land an upgrade at quarterback, pulling off such a blockbuster trade and finding a proper suitor for Jimmy Garoppolo’s services is easier said than done. If Kyle Shanahan & Co. do stay put at No. 12 and continue to work for a deep postseason run with Jimmy G. under center, they’ll need to do everything they can to build an elite offense around him. Smith finished the year with the highest single-season receiving grade (94.9) in the PFF College era (2014-20) and currently ranks 8th overall on PFF’s 2021 NFL Draft Board.
Pick 12 San Francisco 49ers
Jaycee Horn · CB
School: South Carolina | Year: Junior
Horn possesses the size, athleticism, and bloodlines (son of former Pro Bowl WR Joe Horn) to be a tenacious cover corner and enticing option for a team in desperate need of a long-term answer at the position.
Reaction to each pick
Surtain figures to be one of the first two cornerbacks in the draft. He’s as sound as it gets and is a willing tackler. Speed remains a question mark, as does value. Sure, Surtain is a “safe” pick, but when you’re taking a cornerback in the top-15, he better be a lockdown cover guy. I’ve seen enough routes where Surtain was beaten in coverage when he was 1-on-1.
Surtain is a good player who will likely play in the NFL for a long time, but I don’t know if he’s a guy I’d want at No. 12.
Slater will be the Niners' potential fallback option if Trent Williams signs elsewhere. Slater isn’t in Williams’s stratosphere as a player and feels more like a guy you take at the end of the first round and not closer to the top. I'm afraid I have to disagree that Slater is a player who will slide inside. He’s plenty athletic enough to play on the outside, as he showed against Chase Young a couple of years ago. Still, there is a significant difference between Slater and Penei Sewell from Oregon. I’d pass on Slater for a few reasons.
Samuel Jr. feels more like a slot cornerback as I’m not sure he can run. If Surtain runs a 4.5 40, Samuel Jr. isn’t cracking a 4.55. The instincts are there, but when you struggle to cover speed, that makes it easy to pass.
Let’s say DeVonta Smith is on the board. We know Kyle Shanahan is enamored with speed and getting the ball out quickly. At Alabama, Smith made a living on taking a short route and outrunning everyone else. That won’t be as easy to do at the NFL level but in the 49ers' offense? Smith would be a welcomed addition. There’s a strong chance he runs a sub 4.35 40-yard dash.
I love Horn’s aggressiveness, and while it can get him in trouble at times, Horn finds ways to make plays. With that said, Horn also feels like a player you take later in the first round and not at No. 12. Horn reminds me of Janoris Jenkins, and I believe he’ll be in the NFL for a long time. It wouldn’t surprise me if Horn had the better career between him and Surtain.