Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports


Mock Draft: 49ers select Henry Ruggs at No. 13, then trade out of the first round

Apr 19, 2020 at 11:00 AM0


With the 2020 NFL Draft approaching at a rapid speed due to the absence of literally anything sports-related, we are in the absolute thick of the mock draft season. Every morning, we wake up to everyone and his mother's new mock draft because everybody is a general manager all of a sudden. Today I'm going to be one of those people.

The San Francisco 49ers are in a situation they have not been in since the Jim Harbaugh and Trent Baalke years. Coming off of a trip to the Super Bowl, armed with two first-round picks and not having an absolutely glaring need, the 49ers have a multitude of ways they could go.

The 49ers have a shortage of picks compared to recent years. After No. 13 and No. 31 overall, San Francisco doesn't pick again till the beginning of the fifth round on day three. To spread out the 49ers draft capital a little more evenly, I threw in a 'what if' scenario and had the team trade the 31st overall selection and the 217th pick to the Indianapolis Colts for the 34th pick and 122nd pick. The Colts move up to get a much-needed quarterback and snag the fifth year on his rookie deal that comes with being a first-round pick. The 49ers, on the other hand, acquire an early second-round pick and a fourth-rounder in a deep draft class.

I also packaged the 156th overall pick with the 210th overall pick and sent it to the Ravens for the 134th pick. Now that I've explained the parameters of the trades, let's get into the hypothetical picks.

Round 1, Pick 13: Henry Ruggs III, WR, Alabama - 5-11, 188lbs

At thirteen, the 49ers take the guy who fits the scheme the best. Regardless of Jerry Jeudy and CeeDee Lamb being available here, which may not be the case as the Raiders and Jets have been linked to both of them, Kyle Shanahan is going to clamor for his guy. Sure, Jeudy is an elite route runner, and Lamb is a contested-catch machine, but Henry Ruggs' speed was tailormade to be an outside receiver in Shanahan's offense.

With Deebo Samuel and George Kittle working up the middle consistently, the offense has needed someone who can fly down the sidelines and keep the middle open. Don't be quick to assume he's strictly a speed guy either, as he displays natural hand-eye coordination and ball-tracking ability that most guys with the label cannot. Ruggs has played for a team that demands blocking from its wide receivers, has shown the toughness to be able to go over the middle, and has freakish athleticism that could put him in the running to win next year's NBA dunk contest.

Ultimately, Ruggs has to be the pick here. The 49ers will have found themselves in a place where they can take the best player available and the guy who fits their scheme the best at the same time.

Round 2, Pick 34: Noah Igbinoghene, CB, Auburn - 5-11, 201lbs

Who better to lock up wide receivers at the next level than someone who was formerly a four-star wide receiver coming out of high school. Noah Igbinoghene made the transition to cornerback heading into his sophomore season at Auburn and helped its defense become one of the best in the SEC.

In his two seasons at corner for the Tigers, he compiled 18 passes defensed and one interception. For a guy who's completely new to the position and playing against the likes of Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs, those numbers are nothing to scoff at. He's built solidly and loves to get his nose dirty on the edge, which is something the 49ers lack at the cornerback position once you get past Richard Sherman.

He's raw, but the strides he's made in two years playing against a very tough level of competition indicate that he has a high ceiling. He's tough, gritty, and has shown a good feel for zone coverage as he has consistently displayed a grasp on watching pass concepts develop underneath him. He loves to get nasty at the line and relies heavily on rerouting receivers from the line of scrimmage onwards. He looks like an ideal candidate to complement Sherman and eventually replace him.

Round 4, Pick 122: Logan Wilson, LB, Wyoming - 6-2, 241lbs

Logan Wilson and Fred Warner share so many physical similarities that it's actually scary. Warner, coming out of college, was an inch taller and five pounds heavier, so they are nearly identical. Warner ran a 4.63 40-yard dash, while Wilson recently ran a 4.64. Wilson posted a 10'1" in the broad jump, while Warner dropped a 9'11". They had identical vertical jumps, 20-yard shuttle times, and posted very similar times in the three-cone drill.

What I'm trying to say is the guy is identical physically to one of the best young linebackers in the league. Wilson is an outstanding tackler with football speed. He's got a natural feel for navigating the intermediate portion of the field and had the ball production in college to prove it, as he grabbed four interceptions and knocked away seven more passes his senior year. He trusts his eyes and uses impressive burst consistently to knife into the backfield and either meet runners head-on or track them down from behind.

Wilson projects as a guy who can effectively man the middle either next to Warner or subbing in for him and playing at a high level in case of injury.

Round 4, Pick 134: Dalton Keene, TE, Virginia Tech - 6-4, 253lbs

Keene is someone more in the mold of a George Kittle-type tight end who will find himself lining up as a wing or in line as a tight end, or even split into the slot. He was underutilized in college, so the stats do not speak to his ability as a receiver, but he displayed potential as a yards-after-the-catch threat, a la Kittle in college.

Keene is tough as nails and has been quoted saying he loves to block. His blocking is impressive as he utilizes angles and tenacity to finish blocks but lacks ideal pop, strength, and technique. All of that can be fixed in the NFL, so it isn't really a deal-breaker in my eyes. His usage in the offense would be varied and could eventually replace Kyle Juszczyk if Keene takes a few steps as a blocker.

Overall, Keene is an outstanding athlete and a good enough blocker who will be best served as an H-back/TE on the team, being deployed as a wing, split in the slot, in the backfield, and in line.

Round 5, Pick 176: Amik Robertson, DB, Louisiana Tech - 5-9, 175lbs

This pick might be a little bit of wishful thinking as Amik Robertson has the chance to go anywhere on day three of the draft. A true playmaker in every sense of the word, he put up big numbers in each season he played for the Bulldogs. In his career, he put up jaw-dropping numbers by notching 138 tackles, 23 tackles for a loss, seven sacks, 14 interceptions, and a remarkable 34 passes deflected. You'd think with numbers like that, he'd be a guy locked to go in the top ten. But then you look at his height, and you say, "This guy is the same height and weight as me."

Robertson has a knack for being in the right place at the right time and capitalizing. There isn't a point in coverage as routes develop where he is willing to concede anything, and he will aggressively crowd receivers until the ball hits the ground. For a guy his size, he lowers the boom on guys when he squares them up. His short-area burst is incredible and makes him an ideal nickel defender, patrolling the underneath with his ball-hawking ability and hitting.

Round 7, Pick 245: Cordel Iwuagwu, G, TCU - 6-3, 309lbs

Here's a guy who some fans may have heard of, which is strange to say about someone getting picked at the tail end of the draft. Iwuagwu was a tenured starter on the offensive line for TCU, starting 32 games at the left guard spot. Consistently being pitted against quality interior defensive linemen, Iwuagwu held his own and helped pave the way for a Horned Frogs offense that averaged 204 yards rushing per game. He's also had some form of a meeting with the 49ers' front office during the pre-draft process.

Iwuagwu generates excellent 'pop' with his hands and seems incredibly comfortable pulling and moving in space, which is paramount in Shanahan's offensive game plan. He also has above-average arm length, which could potentially help in his development as a hand fighter in the trenches.

At this point in the draft, being able to snag an experienced offensive lineman with no injury issues who you're familiar with is a steal, so I figured this would be an ideal way for the Niners to gain depth on the interior offensive line and wrap up the draft.

H/t to Justin Melo of USA Today's Draft Wire for the interview of Iwuagwu, which you can find here.
The views within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.


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