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Welcome to 'First and Goal'. This week we'll dive into part two of our draft special and look at some defensive studs that could help our team. We're getting close and rumors are flying. It seems like everyone has an opinion on the draft. I hate you NFL. I hate how much I love you. This will be a long 6 days. As always, be sure to check out our Hero of the Week.
Let's get to it!
2015 Draft: Defense Edition
Cruise control, you say?
I do say. That's because Trent Baalke is a master of drafting defensive players. It's almost impossible to predict exactly how he's going to do it, but he's sure to add an impact defensive player with at least 1 of his 9 picks. The man is like wine… and judging by the recent additions of a few grey hairs for Baalke, we're in for a great draft.
I think we should maintain our commitment to building team speed. We kind of have it on defense and everyone else in the NFC West definitely has it. The only problem is, it seems that many Niner fans are in disagreement about what positions to draft, and when. Ahh, the joys of draft season. Everyone's an expert.
I think a little perspective helps. I know a lot of people are clamoring for an ILB. So am I. We're not quite happy with Bowman and Wilhoite, all things considered. Do people understand that 70% of teams out there only have a Wilhoite? We have 2 starters. What we need is depth. How badly we need it, only Baalke really knows.
It's hard to predict who will be BPA at #15. It could be WR Parker, though I think he'll be gone. If he's gone, I think we'll trade down. But just in case we stay put at #15, let's go through our options. BPA for our OL? The starters are set, the backups are set and we're sure to add more. Doesn't smell like first round material to me. (B Thomas is an easy starter in my eyes)
ILB or RB? Too rich for #15. Pass rusher? Maybe, but we have 3 really good players there. So pass. That leaves us with DL and CB, which historically for the NFL gets you good value in the first round. I think the value of those two spots at #15 could be really high. Since Baalke has been known to find CB's late, we're going to start with DL.
Where's the Beef?
Fangio preferred smaller NT's for his one-gap scheme. Mangini has been known to run a 2-gap scheme, which might fit with some of the talent that will be available around the 15th pick. I like both Williams and Dorsey, but the value picking this high just might be some 330lb monster. If it's BPA, I'm trusting Baalke to make it all work out. I'm leaving Shelton off this list because I think he'll be gone by our first pick. If he's not, he's the pick.
Eddie Goldman, FSU: (6'4" 335) One thing you should know about the NFL is, not all size is created equally. This is a mountain of a man and he carries it well. That's good genetics. He's not speedy I know, but he's immovable and that's something we've lacked since, forever. I think he'll continue to get better and he'll also have the frame to do something our other NT's haven't done. Stay healthy.
Malcolm Brown, Texas: (6'2" 320) Some people see him as a better 4-3 DT but I think he could do just fine as a 3-4 NT while also playing DT in our nickel packages. Like Goldman, he's a mountain of a man that carries it well. He's not as stout as Goldman but he's got a little wiggle to help him penetrate the line. Durable, mature, great genes… this is the kind of value you aim for in the first round.
Jordan Phillips is an interesting option but back issues force him off my board.
Carl Davis, Iowa: (6'5" 320) Large, immovable when double-teamed and disruptive when singled up. He has good movement skills and he knows how to close in on a tackle. He played very well at the Senior Bowl so he's a player on the rise who can also play DE. Some might say he's a reach at #15. If he starts, I don't think it's a reach, I call that value.
I'm putting Arik Armstead here because he is the yearly draft enigma. Great measurables and short on the production. Baalke puts an emphasis on production, so he's not the pick at #15 but man, lots of draft prognosticators seem to think we're getting him.
These are the men I think are in play for us in the first round, at least for DL. Next we're covering first round CB's. There's one I really like. I know Baalke can find value at CB later and I'm betting he will. If we go CB early, it will probably be one of these guys. I think Trae Waynes will be gone so he doesn't get covered here.
Marcus Peters, Washington: (6' 200)(4.47) Big and tough enough to play press and play it all day. Plays with attitude. We could use some of that. Off-field concerns weren't too much for me. Great length, ball skills and agility. Knows how to pick it off and go the other way. A natural athlete.
Kevin Johnson, Wake Forest: (6' 190)(4.43) What makes Revis so special? Balance and agility. Johnson has it in spades with elite change of direction speed and explosiveness (41.5" vert!) He's a natural cover man with fluid hips who can stick to you like glue. He doesn't have ideal bulk but never missed a game in college. Displays good balls skills. Starter potential, even with our good DB's.
Jalen Collins, LSU: (6'1" 205)(4.44) Collins is built like Baalke likes his CB's: long, tall, fluid, tough, 200lbs+ with elite long speed and the athleticism to make plays on the ball. He comes in a little raw, but he's more inconsistent than anything. With a little polish, he could turn into a great player.
Byron Jones, Connecticut: This is what the first round is supposed to be about, eye-popping measureables. His combine numbers are ridiculous. To be that fast, balanced and fluid for a man his size is impressive (6'1"-200)(4.43). He's a smart player that understands angles and route concepts; no wonder the Patriots are looking at him. Long arms, team captain, I think Baalke likes.
What about after Round 1??
I covered ILB's in another article so I won't do it here. But what I will do is highlight some names to keep an eye on over draft weekend. We'll probably be adding at least one DL and at least one DB so that's where we'll focus our attention.
Henry Anderson, Stanford: (6'5" 300) He's easily the darling of the webzone, who love him so much they're unwilling to bump him up from his 3rd round grade. But he does posses prototypical size and length for a 3-4 DE. He's disruptive, combining speed, power and a variety of moves to get into the backfield. Justin Smith went #4 to the Bengals. His replacement? Third Round! And not any higher!
Preston Smith, Miss St: (6'5" 270) I know he's listed as a 4-3 DE, but if he added 20 pounds with his wingspan and speed, he would be a demon as a 3-4 DE, as well as doubling as our nickel DE. We're thinking outside the box here, and Baalke's not afraid to do that.
Corey Crawford, Clemson: (6'5" 300) Like Anderson, he possesses prototypical size, weight and length to play DE in a 3-4. Athletic enough to play out of a 2-point stance at Clemson, Crawford has a good blend of speed and power with the ability to add weight to his 300lb frame. A sleeper.
Marcus Hardison, Arizona State: (6'3" 305) Played mostly DT in college but he also played DE; he has the size and wingspan to play on the edge as a 3-4 DE. He is raw, but a quick first step enables him to make a lot of plays behind the line of scrimmage. Another sleeper.
Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, Oregon: I know Baalke won't draft a 5'9" (192lbs) CB but I like him. Best suited for nickel with those quick twitch moves and diagnosing skills. Good in press and zone. Will be a good find for someone. A recent injury does hurt his value. Hmmmm.
Eric Rowe, Utah: (6'1" 205)(4.37)Played both safety and corner in college, so versatility is a plus. Great size. He's faster than he is quick; a hardnosed player in run support who also competes on special teams. Intriguing option.
PJ Williams, FSU: (6' 195)(4.48) Great size and physicality to play on the outside in the NFL. Aggressive and a ball-hawk. A willing tackler. Played on return teams in college and offers value there. Plays big in the biggest games.
Hero of the Week
We here at 'First and Goal' believe in mankind. We believe in coming together under extreme circumstances. It's never easy dealing with death. Sometimes it's cruel and it happens quickly, robbing you of time. Other times it's cruel and it happens slowly, robbing us of our vitality and a sense of self. It pretty much sucks all the way around.
That's why I was happy to see that the Webzone got together and raised the 15K necessary to pay for the funeral costs of one Oscar Garcia. I know he's fighting the good fight, but the strength it takes to present your story to a nation of strangers is inspiring. If I was dying, none of you guys would hear a word about it. But the Webzone came together. We helped to make this difficult time a little easier for those that will live on. Karma is real, and you guys just earned a whole lot of it. Our Hero of the Week, the Niner faithful and proud members of the 'Webzone!!!'