This is my first attempt to predict whom the 49ers will draft in a couple of months. I’ll make more attempts as I learn more about the prospects. This time, I’ll mock just the first four picks.
1st round, pick No.31 – UCLA DE Datone Jones, 6-4, 280 lbs., 4.82 40-yard dash.
Jones has experience playing defensive end and defensive tackle. He had 6.5 sacks and 19 tackles for losses in 2012. He has the talent to take over Justin Smith’s spot as the 49ers’ starting 3-4 defensive end in a few seasons. As a rookie in 2013, Jones has the talent to get 10 sacks as a situational pass rusher, rotating in for Ray McDonald or Ahmad Brooks in the Nickel and Dime packages.
2nd round, pick No. 61 – SMU DE Margus Hunt, 6-8, 280 lbs., 4.80 40-yard dash.
Hunt is an even better athlete than Jones. Hunt might be the best athlete of all the defensive linemen in the draft. He’ll slide to the end of the second round because he lacks experience – he’s from Estonia and has played football for just four years. But he had an excellent senior season – 8 sacks and 11.5 tackles for loss. Like Jones, Hunt can play defensive end and defensive tackle. With Hunt and Jones, the 49ers would have six pass rushers. Last season, the 49ers had only four – Aldon Smith, Justin Smith, Ray McDonald and Ahmad Brooks.
3rd round, pick No. 74 – NCST CB/S David Amerson, 6-3, 194 lbs., 4.59 40-yard dash.
Amerson is a tall, strong cornerback, like the Seahawks’ Brandon Browner. The 49ers don’t have a tall, strong cornerback. They should take a chance on Amerson. If he doesn’t work out at corner, the 49ers can give him a shot at safety. Donte Whitner will be a free agent in 2014 and the 49ers need to find his replacement.
3rd round, pick No. 93 – WVU WR Stedman Bailey, 5-10, 195 lbs., 4.49 40-yard dash.
He’s not as tall or as fast as A.J. Jenkins, but Bailey was more productive in college. At West Virginia, Stedman caught 186 passes for 2,901 yards and 37 touchdowns in two seasons (Jenkins caught 167 passes for 2,432 yards and 19 TDs in four seasons). Bailey could be a very good deep threat No. 2 receiver, and a terrific complement for Michael Crabtree.