It’s beyond exhausting talking about the No. 3 overall pick at this point. Most reports and the media have locked Mac Jones in at third overall and believe he’s the selection for the San Francisco 49ers. A small few think it’s Trey Lance.
Justin Fields, who Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Urban Meyer said is in the running at No. 1 overall and just put Fields through a zoom meeting this week, is supposedly not in the running for the 49ers.
Nothing makes sense. To me, it’s Fields, and it always has been Fields for the Niners. We’ll find out soon enough.
Today, let’s talk about a few potential players the 49ers could trade up for at the end of the first round or early in the second round.
On Tuesday afternoon, the 49ers waived defensive tackle Josiah Coatney, who was signed to a reserve/futures deal. That gives San Francisco 83 players on the roster. Knowing that the team has eight draft picks as well as an undrafted free agent class, a trade during the draft feels inevitable.
Edge rusher, wide receiver, cornerback, interior offensive line, and running back are all needs for the Niners. One thing that has been true throughout the Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch regime is that they have no issue with being aggressive and trading up to get him in the draft if they want a player. These trades haven’t been limited to the draft, either.
Here is one player at each position listed that the 49ers could move up for, whether on Thursday night toward the end of the first round or if those players slide into the early part of the second round.
Edge - Joe Tryon, Washington
There haven’t been many if any, mock drafts with Tryon going early. With so little information that we can trust, this draft will be more unpredictable than ever. This year could be the most inaccurate year for mock drafts in a long, long time.
Something tells me the NFL is higher on Tryon, who has been out of sight and out of mind since he opted out of the 2020 NFL season. Tryon tested like an elite athlete:
#Washington EDGE Joe Tryon doesn't get a lot of buzz, but he may be one of the sleepers of the #NFLDraft before all is said and done. Posted an Elite #RAS at his pro day— Chris Spooner (@SpoonfulofSport) March 30, 2021
(Splits projected on historical averages. 40 times averaged. Numbers from @JimNagy_SB. RAS from @MathBomb) pic.twitter.com/bfDHZ5BfzS
He plays the way the 49ers love their defensive lineman to: with their hair on fire. Tryon is constantly chasing down runners and hustling from sideline to sideline.
He’s far from just being a player who relies on intangibles to get by; Tryon flashed dominant play for long stretches at Washington:
Joe Tryon vs. Utah=dominant. EDGE2.— KP (@KP_Show) April 20, 2021
- wins with an inside counter/arm over from a wide-9
- next play: sack
- gladiator technique to take on pulling OL
- inside arm over for a sack
- forcing the QB off his spot
- setting the edge. good pad level/flat back
- beats RT with a hesi pic.twitter.com/gp8mOmWXcq
There will be a mini-run on edge rushers in the 20s. If the 49ers covet Tryon, don’t be surprised if they move up for a player who fits their mold as an edge rusher.
Tryon wouldn’t have to be “the guy” right away with the Niners. He’d also take pressure off Samson Ebukam. He’s the kind of athlete you want your defensive line coach Kris Kocurek working with every day.
Wide receiver - Elijah Moore, Ole Miss
It doesn’t seem like great value to trade up for a receiver this year since the group has so much talent at the top of the class, but Moore is the type of receiver Shanahan likes:
Elijah Moore is one of the most skilled WRs I’ve seen. He’s as good as it gets as far as tracking/catching, and Moore isn’t bothered by contact. He “steps on the DBs toes/chases his blindspot,” wins inside & out, creates YAC, and is sneaky# fast.— KP (@KP_Show) March 1, 2021
Comp: Shades of Doug Baldwin pic.twitter.com/aZC1lkRb2k
You name it; Moore can do it. He’s challenging to tackle when the ball is in his hands, can line up in the backfield, runs jet sweeps, is one of the better route runners in the class, and is tough as nails over the middle. Plus, Moore competes his butt off.
If Moore slides into the second round, then San Francisco could be tempted to form a strong trio at receiver for years to come by selecting Moore — who would be a prime candidate to outperform some of the wideouts who will go before him no matter where he ends up.
CB Greg Newsome, Northwestern
The 49ers re-signed Jason Verrett and K’Wuan Williams while inking Emmanuel Moseley to a two-year deal this offseason. Neither of those moves should prevent the team from adding a cornerback or two during this draft because the future of the position still looks bleak.
Enter Greg Newsome, who I believe is a better player than Alabama’s Patrick Surtain. When you watch Newsome, you can’t help but see why the 49ers would covet a player like him. Newsome had a QB rating of 15.8 on 35 targets in 2020 and forced an EPA of -0.69 per target.
His ball production is precisely what the 49ers have been lacking. Newsome broke up ten passes this past season. Newsome is a feisty cornerback that’s aware of his surroundings with great route recognition:
Athletically, he’s superb:
Greg Newsome is a CB prospect in the 2021 draft class. He scored a 9.66 RAS out of a possible 10.00. This ranked 62 out of 1784 CB from 1987 to 2021. https://t.co/gF4V3cI49f #RAS via @Mathbomb pic.twitter.com/HqwQ7h9E9v— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) April 15, 2021
Newsome turns 21 next month. These are the type of players you trade up for in the first round from top to bottom.
I’m not sure Newsome will slide, though. If anything, he’ll go earlier than projected. If Newsome doesn’t go in the teens and is available in the 20s, the Niners should pounce on his potential.
OT - Teven Jenkins, Oklahoma State
For the life of me, I cannot figure out why Jenkins isn’t being talked about as a top-15 pick in this draft. He has the demeanor you look for in an offensive lineman as he’s trying to bury defenders on each rep.
He played right tackle in college but has also started at left tackle and right guard. The redshirt senior has starting experience dating back to when he was a freshman. I know the 49ers just picked up Mike McGlinchey’s fifth-year option, but the team could give themselves an out after 2022 by drafting Jenkins, who could slide back over to right tackle after starting at right guard.
Jenkins reminds me of Saints’ start right tackle, Ryan Ramczyk, the way he plays and finishes. That is a compliment. Jenkins is going to be a high-quality player, and he should be a guy the Niners consider early in the draft.
RB - Najee Harris, Alabama
The backlash any organization would get for trading up to select a running back in 2021 would be comical as the move goes against everything analytics stands for.
The Shanahan’s are known for taking undrafted free agents and making them into 1,000 yard rushers.
Guys like Najee Harris don’t grow on trees. Former 49er Larry Grant is on board with moving up to select the former Crimson Tide runner:
Buckeye at 3 and Trade into 1st at either pick 23 or earlier or definitely before pick 32. If we dont Najee may be gone at 24 and 32.— Larry Grant (@LarryGrant95) April 27, 2021
The only knocks on Harris are that he’s not a burner; therefore, you won’t get the home run play with him. I could not disagree more with that statement, as Harris proved time and time again that he could get chunk plays for you on offense at Alabama.
As a receiver, that’s where Harris is special. The 49ers haven’t had anything like Harris in a long time as far as a running back who is equally as dangerous as a wideout as he is on the ground. Don’t be fooled by Harris’s size; he’ll make you miss in a phone booth.
Raheem Mostert and Jeff Wilson Jr. are only signed through the 2021 season. By moving up for Harris, San Francisco’s backfield would be set for the next four years. This move would be unpopular, but I wouldn’t mind it one bit. Harris’s elusiveness, vision, and versatility make him an ideal selection for the 49ers’ offense.
A part of me believes San Francisco attended the first Alabama pro day to see Harris up close and get a better feel for his pass-catching ability than they were to watch the quarterback.