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On Saturday, March 31, 49erswebzone.com and 49ersparadise.com held a chat session with draft guru Chris Horwedel of NFL Draft Blitz. Attendees were able to ask Chris questions regarding the NFL Draft from a 49ers fan's perspective. Below are some key points that Chris hit during the chat session. These questions were asked by 49ers fans from the two fan sites.
What round is wide receiver Aundrae Allison from East Carolina likely to be drafted in and is he a possibility for the Niners?
Chris: We like Allison quite a bit. We've interviewed him a couple times and aside from being a quality receiver,he's a first class person. His stock has really gone up since the combine and he could now go as high and the middle to late second round. With the third round being a touch more likely. I do think he would fit in well in the SF offense.
Is Michigan DT Alan Branch likely to be there at #11? If Nebraska DE Adam Carriker and Ole Miss LB Patrick Willis are still there, who would the NIners draft?
Chris: We're lucky enough to have some ins with a number of NFL teams and everything that we've been hearing is that the 49ers are locking in on Patrick Willis at #11. I'm not as big a Carriker fan as some, I see him as a guy who shouldn't go before the late teens. Branch is interesting; he's in a real battle with Okoye right now. I have a feeling that he'll end up being a top ten pick though.
Do you think Willis can be sucessful in the 3-4 defense?
Chris: Not to put this to simply, but Patrick Willis is THE can't miss defensive player in this draft and he'll be successful in whatever system he's placed in.
Who'll be a better impact player long term? Carriker or Branch?
Chris: Good question. I'd have to go with Branch and the reason for that is weight. One thing that scares me about these freakish DE's like Carriker is that it's going to be extremely hard to keep that body type as he ages. I wouldn't have a hard time seeing him being forced to move inside on a full-time basis in 5 years or so. DT's, especially big DT's, with the ability to get into the backfield AND stop the run will always be useful.
I am still reading that we might take Ohio State wide receiver Ted Ginn, Jr. at #11. Is that realistic or should we move down to draft him?
Chris: Ginn, maybe more than any player in the draft is a guy who scouts seem to be torn on. Some see him as a sure-fire playmaker who's only going to get better as he prefects his route running and such. Others see him as a guy who'll be nothing more than a deep threat and a return man. Personally I'm a big fan of players who show exceptional improvement between their soph and junior seasons. Ginn is one of those guys for me.
If we do take a DE (Carikker, Branch) early, what MLB in the 3rd/4th round area would you see us going after? Are Zak DeOssie from Brown or Anthony Waters from Clemson possibilities?
Chris: I have a feeling that DeOssie is going to go higher than most people expect. Waters is a guy who'll probably be there and I believe he's going to be one of the steals of this draft. He was a first round talent before the injury and now some people have forgotten about him. Other guys to consider are Jon Abbate for Wake and Desmond Bishop from Cal.
Would you use the Niners 2nd pick on a WR like Rice or Hill? Or would you wait until the 3rd round for a WR?
Chris: Jason Hill is one of the best players that no one seems to care about. He had a down season this past year, but a lot of that can be put on the run game and the lack of consistency from the quarterback position. Rice, honestly I don't know how I feel about Rice. One day he looks like a stud, the next a disinterested crybaby. If you want a player to consider there, we should talk about Mike Walker from UCF. Scouts i've spoken to are likening him to Javon Walker.
What are our chances of cutting our losses with Kwame Harris and going with Levi Brown with our 11th pick?
Chris: I'm not sure that Brown makes it past Houston. But if you're looking for a replacement offensive tackle Joe Staley from Central Michigan could be a real option. He's sky-rocketed of late and is in a real fight with Brown to be the second OT picked.
How realistic is it to think Nolan would take a DE like Carriker over a LB like Willis? Will workouts really matter to the coaches more than the work on the field if the 49ers had to choose between the 2 players at 11?
Chris: Well as I said before, everything I'm hearing leads me to believe that if Pat Willis is on the board at #11, he won't be on the board at #12. I don't think it matters honestly. Willis has had the better workouts, but Willis also had a better college career. So the theme of this answer seems to be Willis all the way.
If Ted Ginn, Jr., Robert Meachem of Tennessee and Dwayne Boweof LSU are on the board at #11, who would they take if they decide to go receiver with the pick?
Chris: That's the toughest question I've got so far. Really interesting and quite possible, I'd say Ginn, Meachem, Bowe, in that order.
I don't think it will happen, but is there a way the 49ers could package their picks to trade with Detroit at #2 to maybe target Georgia Tech wide receiver Calvin Johnson? I've heard Detroit wants to trade down.
Chris: Detroit is basically a lock to trade down. So the real question becomes, do the 49ers have enough ammo to trade up? I don't think so without dangling a first round pick for next year. I'm not a fan of trading a package of first day picks for any player, Johnson's tempting, but ultimately the 4 or 5 guys you draft instead will help more.
What's your take on USC WR Dwayne Jarrett at #11?
Chris: Won't happen, moving on...
I'm a big fan of Steve Smith and I think that despite his size, he will be a productive receiver at the NFL level. What are your thoughts on him, as well as a projection of where he'll go in the draft?
Chris: I don't really think Smith has major size issues. He's rigth at 5'11" and 200 pounds which is just fine. I'm actually a fan of Smith too, while Jarrett gets the hype, Smith just goes out and does his job. I don't want to give too much stuff like this away, but last week we has a teaser about which player could surprise people and end up being a first round pick... after talking to some NFL people, that player was Steve Smith. I don't think he's really THAT likely, but believe me, NFL people know him and think highly of him.
If the 49ers pick defense at #11, could they trade up to select a WR next? If so, who would they be willing to trade up for and how far would they have to move?
Chris: I wouldn't trade up for any receiver other than CJ in this draft, there's just to many good WR prospects available. In the second round you'd look at guys like (potentially) Rice, Smith, Allison, Walker, Hill, Gonzalez and Craig Davis. Really take your pick.
Will the 4th round still having a good depth of choice or should we package some of our picks there to move up in the draft?
Chris: To me, one of the more interesting stories of this draft is it's immense depth. I would hold tight to my 4th and 5th round picks because there will likely be good value on the board. This is a draft where I'd say teams should move down a bit and add picks unless there's a player they really like sitting on the board.
If Clemson DE Gaines Adams is available at #11, would we take him before Willis, Branch or Carriker? Is he the best defensive prospect available in this draft?
Chris: I'm not sure that Gaines Adams is the best DE prospect in this class, let alone the best overall defensive prospect. I think people knock Jamaal Anderson because they, honestly, they aren't familiar with him. Also I think people expected Mario Williams/Julius Peppers type workout #'s from him, which isn't fair. But back to the point... would they take Adams over the others you mentioned? Probably, but it's hard to see him falling that far.
Any mid round 3-4 DE's that we should keep an eye on?
Chris: Interesting question. You have to hope a guy like Turn Mcbride falls. Others to consider are Alama-Francis is big enough, maybe a guy like Ryan McBean from Oklahoma State or Jay Richardson from Ohio State. Maybe a David Patterson from Ohio State, a Derek Landri from ND or a Kareem Brown from Miami could fit as 3-4 DE's.
If the Niners do trade up in the draft, say to #6, who would they be targeting at that position?
Chris: The obvious choice would be whichever of the top 2 DE's (Adams/Anderson) is still on the board. Levi Brown could be a dark horse.
What do you think the chances are of the 49ers drafting Florida DE Jarvis Moss in the 1st? I think that he is the perfect 3-4 hybrid player.
Chris: Moss frustrates me. One scout I spoke to recently told me that he didn't care for Moss at all, saying that "He's just physically weak". There's obvious pass rush ability and he does probably fit better as a 3-4 OLB than a 4-3 DE. But I don't see Moss as a option at #11. And really, if you want a 3-4 hybrid guy, look no further than the TFL machine that is Anthony Spencer. Granted 11's to high for Spencer as well.
Of the WR's that will probably be available in the 3rd or 4th, who do think that the 49ers might target? I am a big fan of Johnie Lee Higgins from UTEP. What do you think?
Chris: I'm a big fan of Higgins as well, in a lot of ways I think he's Teddy Ginn without the hype. But I don't see him making it out of day 1. In the fourth round you're looking at guys like Joel Filani (Texas Tech), David Ball (New Hampshire), David Clowney (V-Tech), maybe Jacoby Jones (Lane) falls, etc.
Are there any Frank Gore type steals in this draft that the 49ers can target?
Chris: Hahaha. Frank Gore type steals.... so you mean guys with 9+ YPC averages and major injuries? That's tough to find. As I said earlier, I think Anthony Waters will be a major steal. Gary Russell (ex-Minn) is really a talent, but ran terribly because he's out of shape. Staying at RB, Ramonce Taylor was a first round talent while at Texas. I think Vincent Marshall (WR Houston) a lot and I think Chris Hopkins (TE Toledo) will be a nice pro.
Have Meachem and Bowe gotten themselves into the top 15? Many mocks have them from the #10 pick all the way to the late 20's of round 1. Could we move down to #19 or so and still land one of these 2 studs?
Chris: I think you'd certainly be able to choose from at least one of the two if you dropped down to 19.
Will Ginn recover after his workout and still be a top 15 pick and where is he likely to land?
Chris: A lot of Ted Ginn questions today. I wonder if the best thing for Ginn is actually to not run before the draft. For a guy like Ginn, you have to run a 4.30 to impress and anything lower is a letdown. I do think he winds up being the second wide receiver selected and likely a top 15 pick.
Where do you think Notre Dame DT Derek Landri will end up?
Chris: I like Landri, he's an old-school football player. Currently we have him with a 7th round / PFA grade, but I wouldn't be at all surprised to see him picked considerably earlier on the second day because as I mentioned, he has the ability to play the 3-4 DE spot as well as the traditional 4-3 DT spot.
Do you see the 49ers targeting any cornerbacks in the draft? If so, who and at what spot?
Chris: Hmmm.. that's awfully vague. I wouldn't be shocked to see them go CB anytime after the first round. In the second it could be guys like Eric Wright (who I honestly believe ends up being the top CB from this class), Wilson or McCauley. In the third Bain, Terrell Brown, Gaddis, etc.. In the fourth Fred Bennett or CJ Wilson. Past that, Kenny Scott, John Talley, Michael Coe, Anthony Arline, Bo Smith, etc.
Who would be some good safety prospects for the 49ers in the mid rounds? Who would fit the 49ers well?
Chris: A guy who I think could last until the 4th round or so is Josh Gattis from WFU, Gattis is an all-around safety who would do well in the 49ers system. Other guys to consider would be Michael Johnson (Arizona), Kevin Payne (UL-Monroe), Chinedum Ndukwe (Notre Dame) and Melvin Bullit (Texas A&M).
The Niners currently have 10 picks. In what rounds are they likely to use a couple to move up in?
Chris: I won't even pretend like I can answer that. Simply, they'd move up whenever they saw a player they targeted slipping some. There's no real answer for that a month before the draft.
Given how unreliable WRs have been in the draft would the Niners be better off trading for Darrel Jackson? Would Seattle trade him to a division opponent?
Chris: They'd trade him if you offered them enough. WR's do tend to be hit or miss, but I think this is a class that provides more hits than misses. I'd take the gamble and just go WR in the draft.
How do GM's feel about the character issues of safety Brandon Meriweather of Miami?
Chris: Well I'm only lucky enough to talk to 2 NFL GMs, so I don't know. But of the scouts I’ve spoken to, they're concerned. His actions show a lack of discipline and that's a problem on the field. A couple of teams have guys like Weddle and Wendling above him.
Is defense the only pick we could go with at #11 or are these receivers more valuable as it seems like taking a receiver is reaching when you could move down?
Chris: With the possible exception of Ginn, any WR who could potentially be on the board at 11, would be a reach at 11.
I think many on here see D-line, MLB, WR, Kwame replacement, and possibly #2 RB as our needs - do you see us going elsewhere with our picks, and what feeling do you get from the 49ers organization on their needs?
Chris: I think that's a pretty accurate assessment. But as I said before, I wouldn't be at all surprised to see a CB selected either. You can never have enough quality cover men.
Besides Brown, what other offensive linemen could the Niners go for a little later in the draft?
Chris: In the second round, you're looking at Doug Free (NIU) or Tony Ugoh (Arkansas). In the third, James Marten (BC) or Ryan Harris (ND).
Could this draft push us over the top?
Chris: Well if we learned anything from last season, it's that the right player/players can take a team from the bottom to the top of the league. Just look at New Orleans, Tennessee, etc.
If the Niners are going to draft a NT, are there good options in rounds 2 or 3?
Chris: Honestly, I don't think so. If it's a true space-eating NT that you want, wait a little bit and pick a guy like Paul Soliai (Utah) or even Walter Thomas (NW Mississippi CC) on day 2.
Weddle seems like a Mike Nolan kind of guy. Having played with Alex, at Utah, do you see us targeting him in the 2nd or 3rd round?
Chris: Abolutely. Weddle is just one of those guys who's good at everything. He does strike me as a Mike Nolan type of football player. The 49ers 2nd round pick might be a touch early for him, but I wouldn't have a problem with the reach since you know what you're going to be getting from Eric.
Could Fresno State WR Paul Williams end up being drafted by the Niners? What round could we take him?
Chris: Hmmm... the 49ers picking Paul Williams, that's interesting. It's like the child who touches the hot stove, waits until his burns heal and then goes right back to touch it again. Williams is talented, but he's immature. If I were SF I would stay away from him and go for a character guy with talent like Steve Smith, Anthony Gonzalez or Craig Davis.
Who are your top prospects that will still be on the board at #11 (3-5 top players)? Of those, which will the Niners select?
Chris: Willis, Okoye, Marshawn Lynch, Darrelle Revis and Reggie Nelson. I've been talking about Willis to SF all day, no reason to change this late.
There's the obvious DE's in first round that would help the Niners. Give us a few names that we could get in the 3rd or 4th rounds that could be impact DE's for us?
Chris: In the third round you couple gamble on a guy like Quentin Moses and hope you can motivate him (and add weight), Baraka Atkins is really going to improve once a team lets him settle on one position and Dan Bazuin has one of the quickest first steps of any DE in this class. In the fourth I'd look at Mkristo Bruce (washington state) who I think is vastly underrated, Vic Abiamiri from ND and Ikaika Alama-Francis from Hawaii.
How many receivers are the Niners likely to come out of this draft with?
Two seems like the safest #, but you never know what's going to happen late in the draft, especially when it comes to comp picks.
I've heard that out of all safeties in this draft, Michael Griffin (Texas) might have the highest upside. Why?
Chris: He doesn't. I like Griffin a good deal, but he's clearly behind Landry and Nelson. I think Nelson has the highest upside of any safety in this class, while Landry is the best bet to be a star. Griffin does everything well though, he played SS this past year but projects as an NFL FS. He combines good cover skills with big time hitting ability and solid tackling technique.
If the draft were held today, who would the Niners take in the 1st and 2nd rounds?
Chris: Wow that's tough to project the second round pick. Patrick Willis in the first round and Tim Crowder (Texas) in the second.
Special thanks goes to Chris Horwedel of NFL Draft Blitz for taking the time out of his busy schedule to attend this chat session.