What do you like better, Christmas or mock draft season? Yes, um, the answer is mock draft season! That’s right, the best time of the NFL offseason is upon us.
After spending a week at the scouting Combine in Indianapolis, I had the chance to speak with several prospects and watch their on field workouts in person. After pouring over my notes, I put together my first mock draft of the year, with many more to follow. Without further ado…
Round 3 – pick 99
TRADE : 49ers send the New York Jets pick 99 in exchange for picks 112 and 145
The 49ers have three picks in near succession, and it would be wise to move up or down rather than picking three times in such a small window. In this mock draft, I opted to move back and add another pick early in the fifth round as a result.
Round 3 – pick 101
Sam LaPorta - Tight end, Iowa
Iowa has deservedly earned the designation as “Tight End University” and LaPorta is next up in a long lineage of successful Hawkeye players at the position. One thing that really stood out with while watching his workouts in Indianapolis was just how fluid he was a receiver. Everything he did was smooth.
Running routes. Getting in and out of his breaks. Tracking the ball downfield. LaPorta put on a clinic and made it abundantly clear just how talented he is. LaPorta was asked which Iowa tight end his game most resembles, to which he replied:
“I love my run after the catch ability. [George] Kittle seems really good at that. Kittle seems really good at a lot of things.”
Adding a dynamic receiving threat to pair at the position with Kittle would be huge for the 49ers offense, and the Iowa connection could go a long way with Kittle mentoring LaPorta as he enters the league.
Here are LaPorta’s combine measurements
40-yard dash – 4.59 seconds
10 yard (ca. 9 m) split – 1.59 seconds
Vertical jump – 35 inches (0.89 m)
Broad Jump – 10’3”
Three cone - 6.91 seconds
20 yard shuttle - 4.25 seconds
Round 3 - pick 101
Jakorian Bennett – Cornerback, Maryland
Given the way the NFL has trended recently, a strong argument could be made for aggressively targeting defensive backs every single year in the draft. Bennett is an athletically gifted corner who has starred at Maryland after transferring from Hutchinson junior college.
Bennett has played snaps at outside corner, slot corner, as well as a handful as a deep safety. Bennett has exceptional burst, posting the second-highest 40-yard dash of the entire scouting combine this year at 4.30 seconds.
Between his frame and the way he was able to move during defensive back drills, I was reminded a bit of another 49ers defensive back who has been a major part of this team for the last decade. Check out how Bennett’s physical profile compares with Jimmie Ward.
Arm length 31 7/8
Hand size 9 1/8
Arm length 31
Hand size 9 3/8
Here are Bennett’s scores from the combine drills:
40-yard dash - 4.30 seconds
10 yard split - 1.48 seconds
Vertical jump - 40.5
Broad jump 11’1”
Round 4, pick 112
Isaiah McGuire - Edge, Missouri
This is one of the deeper edge classes in recent memory, and in this mock, the 49ers can grab a guy in the early fourth round who has the potential to be a true difference maker in the NFL.
McGuire has great size at 6’4, 272 pounds, and is already very familiar with 49ers defensive coordinator Steve Wilks after playing for him at Missouri in 2021. Here are McGuire's combine results:
40-yard dash - 4.76 seconds
10 yards split - 1.72 seconds
Vertical jump - 36.5 inches
Broad jump - 10’2”
Three cone - 7.39 seconds
Round 5, pick 145
Andrei Iosivas - Wide receiver, Princeton
Iosivas was near the top of my list of players who impressed me during the week I spent in Indianapolis. Don’t let the Ivy League background fool you, this guy is a gamer that looks like he has the potential to be a contributor on an NFL offense.
At 6’3 200 pounds, Sivas put up very impressive numbers during his testing at the combine, showing tremendous burst and overall long speed. Hands looked very fluid as well, and he was noticeably smooth cutting out of his breaks for someone his size. Here are Iosivas’ testing numbers from the combine:
40-yard dash - 4.43 seconds
10 yard split - 1.52 seconds
Vertical jump - 39 inches
Broad jump - 10’8”
Three cone - 6.85 seconds
20 yard shuttle - 4.12 seconds
Bench press - 19 reps
Round 5, Pick 157
Juice Scruggs - Center, Penn State
With Jake Brendel scheduled to hit free agency and Nick Zakelj still being a bit of an unknown, there is a decent chance the 49ers look to add a true center in this class. Scruggs is a very intriguing prospect who has two years of starting experience and the versatility to play all three interior positions.
Here are Scruggs’ testing scores from the combine:
40-yard dash - 5.22 seconds
10 yard split - 1.79 seconds
Vertical jump - 32 inches
Broad jump - 8’6”
Three cone - 7.75 seconds
20 yard shuttle - 4.82 seconds
Round 5, pick 166
Trey Dean III - Safety, Florida
Jimmie Ward and Tashaun Gipson are both scheduled to be free agents. Even if the 49ers can retain either one of the two, both guys are on the wrong side of 30, which would make it wise to think long term by investing in getting younger at the position.
Dean III is a two-year starter for Florida who put up some impressive numbers in the SEC during his time playing for the Gators. It’s hard to find an elite prospect this late in the draft, but Dean is a guy worth taking a flier on at this point. Here are Dean’s testing numbers from the combine:
40-yard dash - 4.75 seconds
10 yard split - 1.6 seconds
Vertical jump - 36.5 inches
Broad jump 10’4”
Bench press - 25 reps
Round 5, pick 173
Dee Winters - Linebacker , TCU
Winters is the kind of player that has the athleticism to warrant taking a flier on day three. The 49ers have struck gold by following a blueprint of targeting linebackers who have a particular level of burst to make plays in the open field, something that is arguably Winters’ best trait.
At 5’11 227 pounds, Winters is a similar height and weight as Dre Greenlaw. With a pick like this, you are banking on the athleticism and hoping you can figure out a way to maximize those physical gifts with a defined role on this extremely talented defense. Here are Winters’ testing numbers, which include a fantastic 40 time:
40-yard dash - 4.49 seconds
10 yard split - 1.56 seconds
Vertical jump - 30.5 inches
Broad jump - 9’9”
49ers send picks 216 and 224 to the Chargers for pick 199
The 49ers part with one of their three seventh round picks to move up 17 spots and guarantee they grab their guy.
Round 6, Pick 199
Nick Saldiveri - Offensive lineman, Old Dominion
The 49ers have made it pretty clear that Mike McGlinchey has likely priced himself out of their financial budget for the future, leaving the 49ers with the task of searching for a long-term replacement at the position. Look no further than Saldiveri, who’s biggest knock is probably just the fact he didn’t play for a big time college program.
Saldiveri is a natural at the position, and comes with plenty of experience after making 34 starts at right tackle during his time at Old Dominion. The thing that flashes the most with Saldiveri is just how technically sound he is already, which leaves plenty of room to believe he would be able to contribute sooner rather than later in the NFL.
Here are Saldiveri’s testing numbers from the combine:
40-yard dash - 5.21 seconds
10 yard split - 1.8 seconds
Vertical jump - 31 inches
20 yard shuttle - 4.69 seconds
49ers send picks 249 & 255 to the Bears in exchange for pick 220
The 49ers have more picks than guys they can fit on the roster, and Chicago needs as many picks as they can get their hands on. Win/win for both sides, and it allows the 49ers to move up to get a guy who might not have been there at 249.
Round 7, pick 220
Dante Stills - Defensive interior, West Virginia
Stills comes in at 6’4 286 pounds and possesses an extraordinary amount of agility for an interior defensive linemen. The sub 300 pound weight might lead to some concerns for some teams, but the upside you’d get with the explosiveness and lateral movement make Stills a player who is worth investing in.
The lack of taking a defensive interior guy earlier in this mock is predicated on my belief that the 49ers will address that need with a veteran guy. Which leaves Stills as more of a luxury pick, someone you can develop as a rotational pass rusher and create havoc for interior offensive linemen. Here are the combine testing numbers for Stills:
40-yard dash - 4.85 seconds
10 yard split - 1.72 seconds
Vertical jump - 28.5 inches
Broad jump - 9’5”
Three cone - 7.38 seconds
20 yard shuttle - 4.61 seconds
Bench press - 20 reps