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49ers land Georgia LB Roquan Smith in Kiper’s ‘Grade A’ mock draft

Apr 11, 2018 at 12:25 PM--

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"Move over, McShay. Time for my annual three-round mock draft in which I play the general manager for each team at each pick for the 2018 draft," wrote ESPN analyst Mel Kiper on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, fellow ESPN analyst Todd McShay played the role of general manager for each of the 32 NFL teams and went through a three-round mock selecting players who he felt were the best fit. A day later, we have Kiper responding with his version.

By the way, you can view McShay's San Francisco 49ers selections from his three-round mock draft here.

Like McShay, Kiper made selections based on what he feels is best for each team at each spot in the draft with no trades allowed. The selections would earn each team a grade of "A" from Kiper.

Below is how the 49ers ended up with Kiper as the one calling the shots.

Round 1, Pick 9: Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia
Round 2, Pick 59: Isaiah Oliver, CB, Colorado
Round 3, Pick 70: Dante Pettis, WR, Washington
Round 3, Pick 74: Kerryon Johnson, RB, Auburn

"The uncertainty around Reuben Foster's future has me rethinking the 49ers' first pick," wrote Kiper. "They have a glaring need at cornerback, but Smith is the type of talent that is tough to pass up. And if Foster gets his off-field issues straightened up, Smith could move outside to weakside linebacker, and San Francisco would have one of the most talented front sevens in the league.

"Oliver fills the hole at cornerback, as he can compete with Ahkello Witherspoon for the spot opposite Richard Sherman (if the longtime Seahawks corner is healthy). Pettis is a dynamite punt returner -- he set an FBS record for career punt return touchdowns with nine -- and can be a deep threat. Johnson might be a steal here. He was one of the best backs in college football in 2017."

McShay went with Alabama wide receiver Calvin Ridley with the 49ers' first-round pick. It was a unique selection as none of the 67 mock drafts that we surveyed last week had San Francisco selecting Ridley. In fact, the only other mock draft that had the 49ers selecting a wide receiver ninth-overall was Chris Trapasso of CBS Sports, who picked Courtland Sutton of SMU.

Kiper's selection of Smith represents a more popular choice among mock drafts. Seven of the mock drafts that we surveyed had the 49ers selecting Smith, which tied as the fourth most popular selection. He is also among the maximum of 30 draft-eligible players who will or already have visited with the 49ers.

Smith, the 2017 Butkus Award winner, registered college career highs of 137 combined tackles, 14 for a loss, 6.5 sacks, two passes defensed, and two fumble recoveries in 15 games last year, according to Sports Reference. He also had a forced fumble. In 2016, Smith recorded 95 combined tackles, five for a loss, a pass defensed, two forced fumbles, and a fumble recovery in 13 games and 10 starts.

The 49ers held a private workout with Oliver, but there has been no reported interest expressed by the team (yet) when it comes to Pettis or Johnson.

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