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On Tuesday, April 5th, 49erswebzone.com and 49ersparadise.com held a chat session with draft guru Scott Wright of NFL Draft Countdown. Attendees were able to ask Scott questions regarding the NFL Draft from a 49ers fan's perspective. Below are some key points that Scott hit during the chat session. They may have been slightly edited to better fit outside of a chat room environment. These questions were asked by 49ers fans from the two fan sites.
Scott, would you like to tell us a bit about yourself and NFL Draft Countdown?
Scott: Sure. I guess what the site is best known for is the mock drafts, which are the most in-depth out there by far with almost 10,000 words of analysis and they have also been some of the most historically accurate as well. Last year I finished with the top grade in all the mock draft contests, beating Kiper, PFW, etc with 14 of the first 15 picks to the correct teams. I also have the highest 3-year average. Then we have over 400 players ranked with scouting reports and all that as well. Look for an update next week though. Then the final mock draft will be posted late Friday the night before the Draft or very early Saturday morning.
Since quarterback seems to be too risky this year, what to you think about selecting Rolle at #1?
Scott: I don't think Rolle is an option at #1, but I do know the Niners scouted him heavily throughout the season and really like him. If they trade down he will be an option there, but I don't see him at #1 overall in any shape or form.
Who will be the better pro? Smith or Rodgers?
Scott: In the long-term Alex Smith could be the better pro quarterback, but he also has a high bust potential and is a much riskier pick. Personally, I have had Rodgers rated #1 since day one and obviously really like him, although I have Rodgers as the #3 player overall in the draft so there isn't a lot separating them. If you are the gambling type, you take Smith. If you are more conservative, you take Aaron Rodgers.
Why is Rodgers worth the pick? What makes him special?
Scott: What impresses me most about Aaron Rodgers is his accuracy. It is as good as I have ever seen for a prospect. He also has a great arm and his mechanics and delivery is textbook. Plus, he has played in a pro style offense and is used to working from under center. Also, I have heard Mike Nolan wants the guy he drafts to start right away and Alex Smith will probably need a year or two while Rodgers is ready to go.
What are your thoughts on Matt Jones and his quick rise? Do the Niners have a shot at getting him at #33?
Scott: Jones looks like a solid late-1st to early-2nd rounder right now. His rise has been as dramatic as any I have ever seen, even more so than when Mike Mamula shot up in 1995. Personally, I wouldn't touch him before round three because he is so raw and will need a ton of development. Any team that drafts him can expect little or no contribution from him as a rookie.
What can you read from Nolan's comments (or lack thereof) regarding Smith's workout today?
Scott: I think it speaks volumes that they felt the need to see him again under proper circumstances. They saw Rodgers workout in the style they wanted. They obviously hadn't seen what they needed to see from Smith yet and it makes you wonder if his people were trying to hide shortcomings the first time around.
Which highly touted player can drop to the Niners at #33? Spears? Pool?
Scott: I think the most likely guy to drop to #33 will be a cornerback or defensive end because of the depth there, so I would say Marlin Jackson, Justin Miller, Dan Cody, or Justin Tuck. Guys like that. Add Shaun Cody in there as well.
Do you think it is in the 49ers' best interest to take their franchise quarterback at #1 or trade down to pick another player up?
Scott: If they can move down a little and still land Rodgers, I would do it. But if I were them, there is no doubt in my mind that I would stick at #1 overall and nab Aaron Rodgers. I think they have to come away with a franchise quarterback in round one.
What makes Rodgers different from other Tedford products?
Scott: I don't know that you can lump him in the same barrel as others. If you do that, you could say Peyton Manning would be a bust because Heath Shuler was. You have to look at each player as an individual. As I said though, Rodgers has an elite arm, amazing accuracy and textbook mechanics.
What are your thoughts on Adrian McPherson? If they pass on Rodgers and Smith, could he be someone the Niners might look at in the 3rd round?
Scott: I don't think a developmental quarterback is what the Niners need. They need a player who can come in and contribute now, not three years from now. He certainly has all the physical tools you look for and is an intriguing prospect. I currently have him going to Arizona at the end of round three since Denny Green is known for taking risks on talented but troubled players.
How is Chris Canty's rehab going? Could be around at the top of the third? What was your opinion of him before he got hurt?
Scott: Canty was well on his way to being a 1st round pick in the mold of Marcus Spears before he got hurt. His rehab is coming along and he would be an ideal fit as a 3-4 defensive end. I think Canty is a solid day one pick and he could go as high as round two. What will work in his favor is all those teams now switching to a 3-4 scheme and needing big defensive ends.
Don't you think the whole Braylon Edwards thing is a smoke screen? If they wanted a receiver, wouldn't the Niners have traded for Moss?
Scott: No doubt in my mind the Niners interest in Braylon Edwards is only to try and drum up trade interest. I don't think Edwards is a legitimate option for San Francisco.
Scott: BTW, if the Niners can sign Marques Douglas that would be a GREAT move.
Of the players that should be first round picks, who do you see dropping to the second?
Scott: I think Justin Miller and Brodney Pool will be steals if they fall to round 2. As far as the top 10 goes, I could see Alex Barron and Pac-Man Jones falling a little from where I currently have them. As far as guys outside of my top ten who could move in, watch for Shawne Merriman and David Pollack. Merriman is a physical freak in the Jevon Kearse and John Abraham mold. He is going to go very high because he can be either an impact defensive end in a 4-3 or a top outside linebacker in a 3-4. I wouldn't be at all surprised if he went a lot higher than most expect on draft day, even the top 5 overall.
The Niners still have a big need at free safety. Any way Brodney Pool falls to #33? And if so, would he be a good pick for the 49ers?
Scott: Pool would be a GREAT pick for the Niners if he fell to #33.
Many people don't realize Marion Barber is bigger than Cedric Benson, while still having a great 40. Where do you think he goes and how do you think he will do as a pro?
Scott: I was kind of surprised he ran as well as he did. I think he is a solid day one pick now and could even go as high as round 2.
Do you see any defensive lineman in the middle rounds that could fit the 49ers 3-4 scheme?
Scott: Sure. In the 3-4, I think Chris Canty, Jimmy Verdon, Jay Ratliff, Derreck Robinson and Mike Montgomery would all be solid fit.
Where do you see cornerback Ronald Bartell going and why?
Scott: Bartell has nice measurables, but I wasn't all that impressed with him when I watched him at the Senior Bowl practices down in Mobile. I think he could ultimately be a better safety prospect than cornerback. I just didn't see the burst, make-up speed and ball skills from him in Mobile.
Do you see the 49ers possibly taking Darren Sproles in the 4th or 5th and using him as a supplement to Barlow and particularly on 3rd down?
Scott: I think Sproles would be a solid pick in round five and could be a very good pro as long as teams don't expect him to be much more than a 3rd down and change of pace runner.
What do you think of J.J. Arrington and where do you think he will end up?
Scott: A lot of teams love J.J. Arrington and I think he is a lock for round 2 and could be the 4th running back drafted. I hear Dennis Green really likes him and could take him in round 2 if they go elsewhere in round one.
Are Braylon Edwards' hands a major concern or is it something that is blown out of proportion? Is there any chance that we could land David Boston on the free agent market?
Scott: It's not so much Edwards' hands as it is his concentration. It is a minor concern. As for Boston, it wouldn't surprise me if they brought him in, although I don't know how good that would be to have him around all [the 49ers'] young wideouts.
What was up with Elton Brown's disappearing act at the Senior Bowl and Combine? Is he still considered a low first round pick?
Scott: I don't see Brown going in round 1 and the reason he doesn't have a shot is his own doing because, as you mentioned, the Senior Bowl and then leaving the Combine early based on his agents advice. He also had a poor workout where he was injured again.
If David Bass were drafted to play guard, could he hold the right guard spot?
Scott: Yes, I really like Baas as well and have him projected as a guard but he could play any of the inside spots. He is going to be a steal for someone in round 2 I believe.
Dan Cody was rated very highly a month ago. Why has he fallen to a late 1st pick?
Scott: A couple of reasons. First, he is a 'tweener without a true pro position. Plus there are the concerns with his battle with depression that led to him quitting the team and walking away from football a few years back. He could even fall out of round 1 from what I am told.
What 'cream of the crop' quarterbacks will be available next year?
Scott: Next year will be an even weaker crop of quarterbacks with Matt Leinart being the only elite player among the 06 senior and junior classes.
Would Sione Pouha, Albert Means, or Jason Jefferson be good NT picks in the middle rounds? Where do you see Luis Castillo going and could he play NT?
Scott: Pouha and Means are NT prospects. Look for Pouha on early to mid day two while Means is a late rounder at best. Castillo can be a NT as well and is a solid 2nd rounder with an outside shot at round 1.
You have us taking running back Vernand Morency in the 3rd. What do you like about him?
Scott: He is a lot faster than he ran in workouts and he is also a great athlete. He is also a big play threat who can take it the distance at any time so he would be a nice change of pace to Barlow.
Who do you see winning offensive and defensive Rookie of the Year?
Scott: I think that's too hard to say right now. So much depends on the situation players are in. Based on talent alone I will say Cedric Benson and Shawne Merriman.
Why is Ronnie Brown now the top running back prospect? Williams and Benson produced better in college. If Brown was so much better, why did he not start over Williams?
Scott: That's a great question and teams do wonder why he didn't start. At the same time he was also a great college player and was a legit top 10 pick before workouts so it isn't like he moved up much. Plus, that year Cadillac missed with an injury, Brown did go over 1,000 yards with something like 15 touchdowns.
Is wide receiver Chris Henry worth drafting by the Niners with their 3rd pick?
Scott: In terms of talent, Henry would be a great pick in round 3. In terms of character he is probably an undrafted player. Character-wise, I don't think he is a good fit for the 49ers.
Any thoughts on why Antrel Rolle declined to work out for the Jets?
Scott: Yep. Rolle knows he is going to be LONG gone by the time the Jets pick so it would be a waste of his time and an unnecesary injury risk. Rolle could even be the first defensive player chosen.
What will the 49ers' record be if their draft goes the way you say it will?
Scott: They are still rebuilding. If they can stay healthy and considering they are in a weak division, I think 6-10 is possible.
What are your thoughts on linebackers Matt McCoy and Nick Speegle? The Niners brought them both in for workouts.
Scott: I really like McCoy. He was very productive with San Diego State and has had some great workouts. I think he has a shot at round 3 now.
Does Aaron Rodgers' sub-par performance in the Holiday Bowl change the 49ers' decision to draft him #1?
Scott: Ignore that bowl game. Rodgers was playing with young, inexperienced receivers who just killed him. It will have no effect because everyone I have spoken to about it knows what he was up against. As for his upside, I think he can be a Top 10 NFL QB.
How did you rate Arnaz Battle coming out of college? Does he have the tools to be a #1 wide receiver in this league?
Scott: I don't think Battle is an elite guy but he can be a nice #2 or #3. Remember, he was a QB for the majority of his college career and is still learning the position.
Where do you see Courtney Roby going in the draft? Is he a good fit for a west coast offense?
Scott: I think Roby is a 3rd-4th rounder. If a team is looking for someone with speed to stretch the field he is a great option there.
How do you feel about Woods being #1 in an offense?
Scott: I really liked Woods last year in the draft and I have no idea why they insisted on playing guys with no long-term future with the team like Wilson and Conway. That was a major, major error on their part and set back the development of Woods, Hamilton, Battle and Lloyd.
Is Maurice Clarrett worth being drafted?
Scott: Absolutely. I think Clarett is actually underrated and will be a steal if he falls past round 5. With all the hoopla the past two years people forget how good of a player he was at Ohio State as a freshman. Don't get me wrong, he has a major downside but in round 5 the risk is minimal.
Who is the best free safety in the draft?
Scott: Brodney Pool, followed by Josh Bullocks.
How do you grade our last draft?
Scott: I was real high on what they did after the draft so I am going to attribute [the team's low performance] to poor coaching, especially in the cases of Rashaun Woods and Derrick Hamilton. There was just no excuse for not playing those guys more.
Is Mike Williams being underestimated because of his 40 time? Jerry Rice ran a 4.7 at his combine.
Scott: I think he was, but not anymore. Williams is now a lock for the Top 7 and the teams choosing #4, #5, #6 and #7 are all seriously considering him.
Would Bryant McFadden be a good pick at #33?
Scott: He would be a solid pick there, but I am not as high on him as most. I think there will be a better cornerback there than McFadden.
What is your feeling on the 49ers picking quarterback Cody Picket last season? Does he have what it takes to be a starter in the NFL?
Scott: I really like Pickett and think he can one day be a nice backup, but not a starter. In my opinion the 49ers do not have a quarterback that is of starting caliber on their roster right now.
Do you think the team could trade Julian Peterson?
Scott: I don't. He is a leader on that defense and a great fit in their new scheme. They need him in my opinion.
Is the 40-yard dash time an overrated scouting tool? In the instance of a guy like Clarrett, does 40-yard dash speed really matter that much?
Scott: I think you need the 40 time, but it can be taken too seriously at some positions. It is most important for receivers and cornerbacks. It isn't worthless but you have to look at the all-around package and not just speed.
Dominique Foxworth looked to be one of the better corners. Where do you see him going overall?
Scott: I think Foxworth could be a mid-round pick. He needs to continue bulking up but he is a good cover corner.
Special thanks goes to Scott Wright of NFL Draft Countdown for taking the time out of his busy schedule to attend this chat session. Thanks to Bryan Hersh of 49ersparadise.com for keeping the chat session organized.