It's that fun time of the season again. I wanted to wait until after the combine to release my mock, but I have to say that the combine really didn't influence me on who I think we should draft. As I see it the 49ers needs are much more focused than in the previous two seasons. We have 12 picks to fill them, with an amazing 6 picks in the first 3 rounds. There's no way HarBaalk will whiff on this draft. I really don't think we should trade any of our first 6 picks, not one. We can really do some long-term damage to the NFC West, and NFL, with those 6 picks. My wish is that we pick all 12 picks, but I doubt that'll happen. Just too many picks to resist a deal to stockpile picks for 2015. Plus, we don't have many holes to be filled, so I don't think more than 7 or 8 actually makes the team, with 5 or 6 making the active 53 and even less making the 46. But I did mock minus trades. It's impossible to predict that so I didn't waste time trying. But again, I do expect us to be very active during the draft with trades. Also, while we don't have many holes I hope we don't get drunk on "BPA". I expect HarBaalk to draft the best players for this team and not just talent chase. I'd hate for us to have a roster full of talented uncontrollable head cases.
So with that said here's my position hierarchy of need:
CB, WR, SS, ILB, OG, DL, RB, QB, KR, OT, OLB
CB – Bradley Roby, 5-11, 195lbs, Ohio St., 4.39 40
Although Roby is 5-11, 195, he plays 6-2, 210. This is a very physical corner tailor made for our defense. Insanely fast, posting a legit 4.39 at the combine. Nasty and aggressive, and very willing run supporter. Plays with a competitive attitude. A natural corner; plays with very fluid, loose hips. His press-shadow technique (a technique this defense uses OFTEN) is just stellar. Extremely instinctive zone-man corner, which is very important in Fangio's complicated coverage schemes (that often go from zone to man/man to zone post snap). Use to playing on an island and use to playing slot as well, so he has shut-down potential. A big plus is that he's a very good in the return game. Has very big hands (10 ¼"). Very dangerous blitzer from the corner. Will need to be careful with his aggression in the NFL. Will need to get bigger, maybe bulk up to about 205lbs. Will need to trust the scheme more, as he gets caught peeking into the backfield. Likely a day-one starter, even for our 9ers. Would make the 46. (If Roby isn't there I say we get CB – Marcus Robinson, 6-0, 195lbs, Florida.)
2nd (From Alex Smith trade)
WR – Jordan Mathews, 6-3, 212lbs, Vanderbilt, 4.4 40, 21 reps bench press.
Boldin may very well retire a 49er, but we still need another guy to really round out our WR corps. I really like this kid. The cousin of one Jerry Rice, Mathews has the combo of size, speed, and strength we need on this team. He's a hands catcher. I think Jerry may have been teaching this kid (I have no facts to back that up) because he's one of the more polished rout runners coming out, has very good body control to compete for balls (a craft Jerry perfected). He's strong at the LOS. With 4.4 speed he could pull away from defenders and take the top off a defense. Plus, he's returned kicks. With Boldin, Crabs, Mathews, and Patton in 4-wide looks, and with a motioning Davis/Miller/LMJ/or even Gore is gonna prove to be poisonous for even Seattle's defense. Mathews has all the tools, the skills, size, and the pedigree won't hurt either. He'd definately increase the competition level at the WR position below Crabs. Would make the 46. If we draft Mathews, and he doesn't make the 46, it'll be because Chuck Jacobs would have had a very impressive camp and preseason. That would be a tall order for Jacobs though.
SS – Deone Bucannon, 6-1, 211lbs, Washington State, 4.4 40
Been watching this kid for a while. Had a very good combine (4.4 40, 125" broad, 19 reps on the bench, 36.5 vertical). This dude is an absolute real-deal HITTER! He's a throwback-type player, the type that JH loves. A real special team standout. Great replacement for Hitner whether he stays or not. He forces a lot of fumble on crossing runners and is a real intimidator in the secondary. Will need to develop fluidity in his hips, but that's to be expected given he's a strong safety and not a corner. He plays too upright, but it can be corrected with coaching. Also, while big hits are useful to be a good defense he needs to learn to break himself down more. But unlike Hitner, Bucannon's ball skills are better than average for hard hitting SS, so in that way he'd be an improvement over Hitner. (But I still want Hinter back for the upcoming season.) His techniques are fixable. We have to get this kid on this defense!! Would make the 46.
3rd (From Tennessee - 2013 draft-day trade)
ILB – Shayne Skov, 6-1, 245lbs, Stanford
Don't look now but P. Willis is getting older. At 29 we need to start thinking for the future at that position. And with Bowman injured and not slatted to be back until after the season starts I think it's a must that we get a guy here. Skov, a Stanford kid with just the temperament and work ethic JH & Co. desires, is a perfect fit. Diagnoses plays and hits the gaps well, and fast. Was a team captain on a pretty good defense. Sure, fundamental tackler. Not much experience in 3-4 but with Willis, Bowman, and Wilhoite in front of him Skov would have plenty oto learn from. Would make the 46.
OG – Cyril Richardson, 6-5, 348lbs, Baylor, 25 bench reps
I originally had us taking Gabe Jackson here. But after the combine he shot up to early 2nd projection so I doubt he'd be available. This is a massive road grader that keeps his butt down, which makes for a solid base. Employs sudden punches at the LOS. Streaky meanness, so he'll need to be more consistent. Has played tackle as well so he'd be great value. Would make the 53.
3rd (Expected compensatory pick)
DT/NT – Daniel McCullers, 6-7, 352lbs, Tennessee, 27 bench reps
He carries his weight extremely well. Although he's 352lbs he's kind of lean. Nonetheless this guy is one large, strong man who almost NEVER saw one-on-one. He was mostly doubled, and at times triple teamed but still caused O-lines problems. A bit rare, but a real bully on the inside, an unmovable run stopping two-gapper. Won't give much in pass rushing, but honestly we don't need that from our interior D-line. But he pushes the pocket quite well. With him in the 0, 1, 2, and 3 techniques our LB's will be running wild all over the field. This could be a dangerous man for opposing offenses with our already talented DL starters and rotation. I really hope we get this kid here; he and Q. Dial would be a formidable future for the 49ers. Would make the 53.
RB – Terrance West, 5-11, 225lbs, Towson, 4.5 40
I cannot see Frank Gore playing past this upcoming season, getting another rock pounder would be smart. West is a real between-the-tackles, balanced one-cut browser. Runs with anger. He could be our short yardage specialist that Dixon couldn't be. In the NFC West this guy is gonna fit right in. This could finally be the year that we part ways with Anthony Dixon like many here have been wanting to see. (Not me tough! I wanna see Dixon stay for his stellar ST play.) Like Frank, he runs behind his pads and use to running a heavy load. Big ?. Could make the 46 if Dixon is let go. Otherwise it'll be the 53. Would not last on the PS.
QB – Logan Thomas, 6-6, 248lbs, Virginia Tech
Been having my eye on this kid for a while. A top proformer at the combine, which I think will push him up the boards a little. Most have him going in the 7th, but I seriously doubt that'll happen. Thomas would be a definite upgrade at the #2 QB spot. I think this kid would be a perfect fit for this team. Plus we need to get better at the backup QB spot. Would need some work, but so did C. Kaep. Many of the same knocks that scouts have on him are many of the same they had on Kaep, minus the throwing mechanics. I saw this kid throw in games and at the combine and he looked pretty good to me. Throwing mechanics isn't his issue at all. Like Kaep, he's a tough kid, durable, and won't mind lowering his shoulders to deliver a blow. I wouldn't be surprised to see a team reach in the 4th for him. Would make the 46.
KR/WR – Jeff Janis, 6-3, 219lbs, Saginaw Valley St, posted a 4.42 at the combine.
Very rare measurable – combo speed and body type and very good work ethic. I think he can be taught to the return game. Kind of a big Wes Welker, he's gonna be a terrible mis-match for defenses to handle, especially in off-the-line slot and motioning. Has small hands, and for me that's a bit of a worry considering that he'd be taking fast balls from C. Kaep. Went to a small school with little competition so he'll need to prove himself. But I think with this coaching staff he'll get it done. PS project.
7th (Seventh round: From New Orleans -- Parys Haralson trade)
WR – Cody Hoffman, 6-4, 223lbs, BYU, 4.65
Excellent hands; don't drop balls much at all!! Very polished rout runner. Not a lot of straight line speed but very quick in underneath routs, gets off jams well, and master of double moves. (The latter two will make him a dangerous element in our offense in our division.) A good move-the-chains WR. Very strong in the YAC, not easy to bring down. Better than adequate blocker down field. Again, not a speedster. Not that flashy with the ball in his hands, but the job gets done. I've watched a lot of film on this kid (as much is free to the world) and, honestly, I think he should be rated higher than the 6th or 7th. Would make the 46 if Manningham and/or Baldwin are released (like I think they both will be). I doubt we keep more than 6 WR's on the 53, plus one with Osgood (Boldin, Crabs and Patton are locks). If we keep only 5, and Jacobs has an excellent camp and preseason, Hoffman is out totally. Hoffman won't last 10 minutes on the PS.
7th (From Carolina - Colin Jones trade)
OT – Cornelius Lucas, 6-8, 329lbs, Kansas St.
Another large strong kid who engulfs defenders. Has a true mean streak, and keeps it throughout the game. Will need to get better leverage and hand placement to control defenders better. PS project.
7th (Seventh round: Own pick)
OLB – Larry Webster, 6-6, 252lbs, Bloomsburg
Yes, he's the son of Larry Webster who played 11 seasons in the NFL, including the 2001 Super Bowl Ravens team. Look for this guy to be moved from DE to OLB in the NFL. (And I wouldn't be surprised to see him make a switch to TE given his college basketball career, and we all know how much JH loves versatile players.) He has an explosive first step to get past OT's. Could use some time in the weight room. Longshot of making the team but great PS project. If we cannot resign Phil Dawson look for us to draft a kicker here. My choice will be Chris Boswell out of Rice.
In the NFL size matters. I am not a fan of small, light WR's who cannot get off the LOS. And the NFL is going away from smaller corners to bigger more physical corners. We have to understand something: we are in the NFC West, THE toughest division in the league. The NFC West isn't for the faint of hearts; it's the big boy division as the Broncos found out. We need to build to win our division, and our division is big and tough. Indeed speed kills, but not if you cannot get off the LOS. As I stated, I doubt we pick all 12 picks. But I just think we'd get better talent on the roster if we work the complete process, pick all 12, let competition take over, and just cut accordingly. But that first 6 picks are high picks and don't think we should trade any of those picks. Look for our practice squad to get absolutely raped.