Solomon Thomas leads mock drafts as 49ers’ top pick

Apr 7, 2017 at 11:50 AM--

Every week, we survey a growing number of online mock drafts to determine who most believe will be the San Francisco 49ers' top selection in the 2017 NFL Draft. The results change – sometimes by a great margin – from week to week. Just a few weeks ago, the overwhelming favorite to be the 49ers' selection with the second overall pick was North Carolina quarterback Mitch Trubisky. Since then, he has had his pro day and his place within the ranking has dropped significantly.

The new favorite on the list is Stanford defensive end Solomon Thomas, who leads by a rather large margin. Of the 82 mock drafts that we examined*, Solomon was the 49ers' selection in 37 of them. How large of a margin is his lead? LSU safety Jamal Adams came in second with eight mock drafts listing him as the 49ers' selection.

Rounding out the top five are Trubisky, Ohio State cornerback Marshon Lattimore, and Ohio State safety Malik Hooker.

Player Pos Rank
Solomon Thomas, Stanford DE 37 mock drafts
Jamal Adams, LSU S 8 mock drafts
Mitch Trubisky, North Carolina QB 7 mock drafts
Marshon Lattimore, Ohio State CB 6 mock drafts
Malik Hooker, Ohio State S 6 mock drafts

The 49ers were on hand for Stanford's pro day two weeks ago. The contingent included head coach Kyle Shanahan and defensive line coach Jeff Zgonina, who closely observed Thomas' workout. If the 49ers did select Thomas at number two, it would be the third defensive lineman that the team has selected with its top pick in the past three years.

"It really doesn't concern me what we've done in the past," Shanahan said following the pro day. "If we think that player can help us and improve us, that's what we'll do. You want to get the best player possible. There's lots of options open."

Thomas' increased popularity could be beneficial to the 49ers if a team like the Carolina Panthers were to become so intrigued by him that they would be willing to trade up to get him. Moving down to Carolina's number eight spot would be ideal for the 49ers because they would gain picks and still get a talented prospect – perhaps someone like Alabama linebacker Rueben Foster. No mock currently has Foster being selected higher than the number 11 spot in the draft. Of course, if the 49ers were interested in someone like LSU running back Leonard Fournette – as they are rumored to be – no mock draft currently has him lasting beyond the sixth spot in the draft.

Thomas saw his stock rise in 2016 when he had 61 tackles, 8.5 sacks, and was First-Team All PAC-12. That stock rose further following the Sun Bowl against North Carolina and his showing at the NFL Scouting Combine, where he ran a 4.69-second 40-yard dash. While the bulk of his playing time at Stanford was in the interior, his ability to play on the edge, where he would be most valuable to the 49ers, is unknown.

Shanahan was asked whether or not Thomas could play at the Leo position on the 49ers' defense. "I believe so," he answered. "I believe he can line up probably anywhere inside that he wants." However, Shanahan admitted that he still needed to do more research on Thomas.

"He kind of shot up draft boards and about three weeks ago, his name was connected to the 49ers," said our own Zain Naqvi on the latest No Huddle podcast. "And a couple of mock drafts connected him and it seems like everybody after that was like, 'Hey, that's actually a really good idea. We're going to put Solomon Thomas on the 49ers because we don't have a clue as to what the 49ers are going to do and everybody else is saying that they're going to take Thomas so we're just going to do it too.' It doesn't seem like there's a lot of thought being put into it."

"I don't think he's the prototypical pass rusher like you would want for that," added podcast co-host Al Sacco.

The 2017 NFL Draft kicks off on April 27 in Philadelphia.

* The information within our database list does not include two mock drafts what will be included in the next update.

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