Traditionally, draft watchers discuss two draft strategies: filling your biggest needs and taking the best player available. However, another approach teams tend to take is drafting to beat their biggest rivals.
For us, I list those teams as the Seahawks, Rams, Redskins, Packers, and maybe Carolina. I excluded the Cardinals because they're IMHO rebuilding and we don't know what they're going to look like in 2 - 3 years. I included the Redskins and Packers because I believe that they will be Conference contenders over the next few years -- I put Carolina in there because I see them as a team on the rise.
Based on that, who should we draft? Team by team strength mismatches with the 49ers:
SEA - extremely mobile quarterback, big, physical CBs, solid defensive line, all pro left tackle. good speed pass rusher
STL - phenomenal defensive line, especially on the inside. impressive, physical corners
WAS - extremely mobile quarterback, all pro left tackle
GB - Amazing quarterback, good pass rush
CAR - Dynamic quarterback with a cannon for an arm
Based on that, here's where I see needs:
- pass rush. Yes, we have Aldon Smith and Brooks, but chasing Wilson around and (to a lesser extent) RGIII will wear out our pass rushers. We need depth there. We also need D-line depth -- everyone saw RJF winded chasing Wilson around
- Large WRs; Sherman and Browner get away with a lot of contact, but they're extremely physical regardless of officiating. We have relatively smallish receivers -- we need some bigger ones...Crabtree is 'physical' in my opinion
- Center. we have solid guards, but Goodwin is lacking.
- swing tackle. Staley and Davis are good tackles, but we have no depth. If one goes down, Chris Long, Clay Matthews, Clemons, or Irvin could 'take over the game' if a backup can't step in
- Secondary depth - the Packers can go 4-wide and pick you apart without depth in the secondary.
So based on all that, what would our first three rounds look like - ** Obviously, we won't draft 15 players, but I drafted them anyways.
1-31 - Datone Jones, DE, UCLA - huge plus-up at the defensive end position
2-34 - Alex Okafor, DE/OLB, Texas - another speed rusher to rotate in with Aldon Smith and Ahmad Brooks
2-61 - David Amerson, S/CB, N.C. State - CB/Safety hybrid that will allow us to put him at safety or corner, depending on how the rest of the roster develops
3-74 - Brandon Williams, DT, Missouri Southern State
3-93 - Cobi Hamilton, WR, Arkansas - He's 6-2, but incredibly physical and breaks a lot of tackles. can beat the press
4-125 - Xavier Nixon, OT, Florida - Big tackle who can fill in if something happens to Staley or Davis...and Davis is a free agent after 2014 with a voided final year.
4-comp - Matt Scott, QB, Arizona - solid QB prospect with some athleticism and is a good fit for our system
5-150 - Chris Gragg, TE/H-Back, Arkansas - He's projected as a 5th rounder by many, and he could replace Delanie Walker
5-157 - Robert Lester, S, Alabama - obviously lacking in certain areas, but provides safety depth
6-180 - PJ Longeran, C, LSU - Center Depth/Project
6-189 - Marlon Brown, WR, Georgia - Big, Physical Receiver that could be a steal
6-comp - Nickell Roby, DB/PR, USC - Punt Returner, reserve corner
7-211 - Orhian Johnson, SS, Ohio State - special teams contributor, reserve safety
7-221 - Nick Clancy, ILB, Boston College - lots of hustle, we'll need ILB depth
7-comp - La'Rod King, WR, Kentucky - Camp fodder (probably)