ESPN has a new overlord for the NFL Draft. A friend of mine, Jordan Reid, will soon be “the next Mel Kiper Jr.” That’s cool to read, having read Jordan’s work during the past couple of years.
Cam Jurgens, C, Nebraska
Write this one in pen for one of my favorite team-player fits. Jurgens’ gap-to-gap style is a perfect fit in Kyle Shanahan’s scheme. For a team searching for interior help and a young center, he could turn into a contributor quickly here.
Based on how this draft has gone up to this point, there isn’t an edge rusher or safety that makes sense at this spot. So instead of reaching for a specific position of need, the Niners draft Jurgens, who could wind up beating out Daniel Brunskill at right guard and serve as Alex Mack’s replacement after the 2022 regular season.
Jurgens has rare power and movement skills that allow him to reach second-level defenders most interior offensive linemen can’t.
Sports Info Solutions has a “bounce percentage,” meaning the running back was forced to bounce a run when running behind the specific offensive lineman. Jurgens was the seventh-best among all interior linemen.
Nick Cross, S, Maryland
The 49ers are in need of help on the back end, and Cross is an underrated prospect in a loaded safety class. As a traditional single-high, high-post safety, he provides a unique presence on the third level.
Cross has been one of the more popular players mocked to the Niners this cycle. Cross is a consistent tackler who can flat-out fly while excelling in man-coverage. Another positive trait that stands out when you watch Cross is not only his range, but you can see him directing traffic before the ball is snapped.
Communication is critical for any successful defense, especially for the 49ers, who interchange their safety responsibilities from play to play.
105. San Francisco 49ers*
Marcus Jones, CB, Houston
Primarily a nickel corner on the next level, Jones was a touchdown waiting to happen in college. Whether it was as a return specialist or creating turnovers, good things seemed to always occur when he was around the football. The 49ers should create some competition at the nickel spot, and Jones is a serviceable option with the potential to make an impact defensively and on special teams.
Jones is another player the Niners have visited with during this draft cycle.
I worry about how Jones will match up against bigger wideouts on obvious passing downs. Your initial reaction would be to put him in the slot, but more and more play-callers are moving wide receivers around the formation.
Jones didn’t test during Houston’s pro day as he was still recovering from shoulder surgeries, but he runs like the wind. Ironically, despite his on-ball production, you’ll notice Jones give up more big plays down the field than you’d expect.
This would be a home run pick if Jones never played a snap on defense as a rookie due to being one of the most electric return men in college football history. I’d place a confident wager in Jones returning a punt or kick to the house as a rookie.
134. San Francisco 49ers: Thomas Booker, DT, Stanford
172. San Francisco 49ers: Tyler Badie, RB, Missouri
187. San Francisco 49ers (via DEN): Bo Melton, WR, Rutgers
220. San Francisco 49ers*: David Anenih, EDGE, Houston
221. San Francisco 49ers*: Ryan Van Demark, OT, UConn
262. San Francisco 49ers*: Brock Purdy, QB, Iowa State
You’ll see plenty of “A” grades for the Niners if their draft ends up anything like the one above. The secondary is addressed while you also fill a hole along the interior offensive line.
Booker adds athleticism along the interior. The 309-pound defensive lineman ran a 4.94 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine. Booker doesn’t have a deep bag of pass-rushing moves, but that’s what you pay Kris Kocurek for — to develop players.
Melton is another wideout that’s visited the 49ers. Melton needs to become more consistent, but he’s a playmaker with the ball in his hands and a threat in the open field. Kyle Shanahan gets another playmaker.
I’ve never seen Anenih or Demark play. Still, you can’t go wrong with addressing the trenches in the draft — especially with Mike McGlinchey coming off a severe injury and not having a backup, assuming Jaylon Moore works with the guards.
I wondered whether the team would add a potential long-term backup in the draft, and that’s Purdy.