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On Wednesday, February 28, 49erswebzone.com and 49ersparadise.com held a chat session with draft guru Robert Davis of FootballsFuture.com. Attendees were able to ask Robert questions regarding the NFL Draft from a 49ers fan's perspective. Below are some key points that Robert hit during the chat session. These questions were asked by 49ers fans from the two fan sites.
If Antonio Bryant gets released, could you see the 49ers drafting WR Anthony Gonzalez of Ohio State in the 2nd round?
Robert: I know the team needs some help at receiver, so I could see that happening. Personally, I think that’s a little high for Gonzales. I know some aren't high on a receiver in the first but if Bryant is gone, then it may become an even bigger need.
Who do you think would be a better 3-4 DE for us, Jamaal Anderson of Arkansas or Adam Carriker of Nebraska?
Robert: Carriker. He is the ideal fit in that spot and he will still bring some playmaking ability. I think Anderson's pass rush ability is limited a bit and I do not think he holds up at the point well enough to do it in a 3-4 base. By limited, I mean in the 3-4. Obviously Anderson has major pass rush ability.
How much talent drop off is there between these two groups of safeties. The late 1st/early 2nd group being Michael Griffin of Texas, Reggie Nelson of Florida, and Brandon Meriweather of Miami. The late 2nd / 3rd group being Eric Weddle of Utah, John Wendling of Wyoming, Sabby Piscitelli of Oregon State, and Aaron Rouse of Virginia Tech. Who do you like the most from the 2nd group listed?
Robert: Personally I think that [LSU’s LaRon] Landry and Nelson are tier 1, Meriweather and Griffin are tier 2, and Weddle in tier 3 by himself. After those 5, I think there is a pretty sizeable drop. The guys below them have some talent but don't necessarily play up to their workout numbers and in my opinion, just are not as good as the top 5 guys.
Who do you feel is the most overrated player in the draft?
Robert: That’s a tough one. I think that people who rate Carriker as a top 15 guy make him overrated, but I realize as a DL, that comes with the territory. I still only would put him in the mid 20's as a prospect but have seen him a lot higher. I don't think any of the guys at the top are really overrated to be honest. Maybe [Georgia DE] Quentin Moses now that he had a down senior year and a poor combine, but I think he's going to fall on everyone’s boards and he won't be overrated in a little while. Since A. Gonzalez was brought up, I think he's a bit overrated as well. Mid/late 3rd round on my board, but some have him at the top of the second.
Do you see any weaknesses in Calvin Johson's game that may prevent him from becoming dominant in this league?
Robert: No. That kid is a freak, plain and simple. Stardom is coming for him. Best player in the draft hands down in my opinion and I don't see that changing as the draft approaches.
Who do you think are the best 5 players who could play NT in a 3-4? Do you think Paul Soliai of Utah and Louis Leonard of Fresno State will still be available in the 4th round?
I think both [Alan] Branch [of Michigan] and [Amobi] Okoye [of Louisville] can play the nose spot and they are obviously the top two guys no matter what you're looking for at DT. After that I think [DeMarcus] “Tank” Tyler could become a nose tackle in the league. Soliai would probably be 4th on my board, and I do think he would be available in the 4th. Stanley Doughty is #5 on my list, but he's in the middle of day two. I think the 4th is probably too high for Leonard.
What is your opinion on linebacker David Harris of Michigan and when does he get picked? Have any teams shown interest?
Robert: I really like Harris. I was impressed with the timing he had at Indy this weekend and think it only helped his stock. I think he's a solid pick in the early second round and I think he lands at some point in that range. I actually have not heard at this time any particular team that showed interest in him.
Do you think wide receiver Sydney Rice of South Carolina drops to the Niners in the second round? If he is there, do the Niners draft him?
Robert: I think it's a possibility. He needs some work, and it’s a strong draft for receivers. If he were there, I would have to think the 9ers seriously consider him because he brings great value and fills a need for a playmaker out wide.
In light of his slow 40 at the combine, what round do you see cornerback Daymeion Hughes of California dropping to?
Robert: I was really surprised at the time he posted. I had him possibly cracking the first before that. But now, I could see him falling to the 3rd round. He still has time to re-establish himself at Cal’s pro day, so I wouldn't write him off completely. He wasn’t a burner to begin with, so while it still hurts him, I don't think it absolutely kills him.
So you think Carriker is more overrated then Branch or wide receiver Ted Ginn, Jr. of Ohio State? How does Carriker and Branch Compare in addressing the 49ers’ needs on DL keeping in mind that it will probably be a 3-4. If Carriker is not picked at #11 where does he get drafted? You don't think Branch can play the nose in a 3-4?
Robert: I do think Branch is capable of playing NT. I think both Carriker and Branch would be great fits along the line, with Branch providing a little more versatility because of his ability to play on the nose. I don't think Carriker is worth the #11 pick, but somebody in the Top 25 has to take him. I could see Cincy taking him and possibly playing him at both tackle and end at times. I definitely think he is more overrated than Branch. Branch is the top DT in the draft, and a worthy top 10 pick. In comparison with Ginn ... well, I guess both could be said to be in a similar boat, but I think Ginn's playmaking ability obviously gives him a boost. He's very raw and needs work so if he lands in the top 12-15, he could be a major bust. But he could be a Devin Hester type at the very least and that’s still a game breaker so I still like him in the 15-25 range in the first round.
Is defensive end Anthony Spencer of Purdue a first round talent? Do you think he's suitable for the 3-4 alignment?
Robert: I think he's suitable in a 3-4 at OLB. He may not have ideal athleticism but he knows how to rush the passer. Purdue has had some success with their ends moving to linebacker in the pros with guys like Ayodele, Colvin, and Phillips so they do a good job preparing those guys for the next level. I don't consider him a first round talent though. I’d say more near the middle of the second round area is where he brings good value.
If Landry gets drafted in the 1st, who would the 49ers take in the 2nd and 3rd?
Robert: I’d think a WR and a DT would make sense. Maybe Tank Tyler in the second and a kid like [U.T.E.P wide receiver] Johnnie Lee Higgins or [Fresno State wide receiver] Paul Williams in the third. I think you lose a little value at the DT/NT spot after Tyler so if he’s there, grab him and get the WR later. It would be tougher to land that NT in the third than a quality WR in my opinion.
Which wide receivers do you see the 49ers attempting to take and in what spots do we try to take them? Who is the second best receiver in the draft?
Robert: I still have [USC’s] Dwayne Jarrett as the 2nd best WR in the draft. I do not buy this stuff about him running 4.7's and being scared to compete at the combine. If he somehow does turn in a real poor 40, I would probably bump [Tennessee’s] Robert Meachem up to #2. Right now, I don’t know if there is a WR that should go at #11 so I think it'd be tough to go with a guy that high that doesn't just blow you away. So I'd say in the second and third looking at some guys that can bring in playmaking ability. If Rice falls in the 2nd, maybe [Jason] Hill [of Washington State], Higgins, and Williams in the 3rd.
There is a rumor that Detroit is shopping its #2 pick. What other teams, if any, have you heard about being interested in a trade up/down.
Robert: I think the obvious choice is Arizona. There isn't a better fit for them than [Wisconsin OT] Joe Thomas. Landing a stud tackle is a must to keep Leinart healthy and making the offense go.
What do you think of tight end Jonny Harline of BYU in the later rounds? I have heard he could become a Cooley type H-Back.
Robert: I think he's an excellent option in the later rounds if you’re looking for an H-Back or receiver at TE. He knows how to get open and has great hands. He definitely has some ability that could make him a solid role player in the NFL.
Arkansas cornerback Chris Houston worked out great at the combine. Do you think he will still be available at #42?
Robert: I think it’s tough to see him falling there. With Hughes falling, it opens up another spot in the late first. At this point, I think he may have worked himself into that late first round area and I can't see him making it to 42. But I wouldn't put it out of the realm of possibility.
Who do you believe the Niners will draft at 11? Who will still be available at that pick?
Robert: If Okoye is there, I’d have to seriously consider him. I would consider [Ole Miss linebacker] Pat Willis if he's there, as well as LaRon Landry. I wouldn't put Carriker off the list, but clearly, I’d take the other 3 if I were them.
If Notre Dame quarterback Brady Quinn goes in the top 3, do the Buccaneers look at Joe Thomas at #4, making Calvin Johnson available for a trade-up? Or is that too much of a reach?
Robert: That would be a tough spot for Tampa Bay, but an enviable one. As good as Thomas is, I’d still have to go Calvin. That kid is amazing. If they did go Joe, moving up to #5 for CJ would still be too much. A lot of people would be on the phone because Johnson is the best player in the draft, so there would be a ton of interest, driving the price up.
Who will be the better pro five years down the road? LSU’s JaMarcus Russell or Brady Quinn?
Robert: JaMarcus Russell. Although, I do still like Brady. I don’t buy this stuff about him falling. He's still a prime pick in my opinion. Oh, just to add, I mean I could see Quinn sliding a little bit, but I just think he is still worthy of a top pick and won’t fall too far.
If you had to prioritize the 49ers’ need positions in the draft, how would you do it?
Robert: You know, I don't know if I can really put them in order of 1, 2, 3. I really think landing a big time WR is a must, but I don't think I’d address that in the first round. Landing a lineman to allow the entire D to fall in place is right up there with that one and I don’t know if I can distinguish between the two.
Hypothetically…okay…very hypothetically, if Dwayne Jarrett were to run a 40 time equal to Calvin Johnson's, are they equal talents at WR. Why or why not?
Robert: CJ is still better. He's got a bigger frame and is more physical. And even if they did have equal 40's, Calvin still plays at a faster speed than Jarrett.
With Michigan linebacker David Harris' combine 40 being much faster than expected, how high do you think he gets drafted? How well does he fit as an ILB in the 3-4? How does he stack up to the draft's other ILBs in your eyes?
Robert: I think he's a great pick in the early second round. He has a little better frame than the other guys. Davis and Blades are a little shorter than him, so they could run into trouble with lineman at the next level. He might have moved up to #2 right now behind Patrick Willis but he's nowhere near Pat.
Where do you think Patrick Willis will go?
Robert: I absolutely love Willis. I couldn't imagine him lasting past the Rams at #13. I would think that the 9ers will consider him, as well as Buffalo. But if he makes it to #13, I think he's a Ram.
Special thanks goes to Robert Davis of FootballsFuture.com for taking the time out of his busy schedule to attend this chat session. Thanks to Bryan Hersh of 49ersparadise.com for managing the chat and keeping it organized.