Pre-Combine NFL mock draft with a 49ers trade

Georgia offensive tackle Isaiah Wynn (77) and Georgia running back Sony Michel (1) celebrate after the Southeastern Conference championship NCAA college football game against Auburn, Saturday, Dec. 2, 2017, in Atlanta. Georgia won 28-7. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Here’s my best attempt at a pre-Combine mock draft.


1. Cleveland Browns: Sam Darnold, QB, USC.

Analysis: The Browns need a quarterback. Darnold is the highest-rated quarterback in the draft by a significant margin.

2. New York Giants: Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame.

Analysis: Last season, the Giants had one of the league’s worst offensive lines. It most likely will lose its best player — free-agent guard Justin Pugh. Nelson is an upgrade over Pugh. Nelson arguably is the best player in the draft. Historically, teams don’t draft guards with top-two picks, but guards have become as valuable as offensive tackles in today’s NFL.

3. Indianapolis Colts: Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn St.

Analysis: The Colts finally pair Andrew Luck with a top-flight running back.

4. Cleveland Browns: Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama.

Analysis: The Browns have to give Darnold a weapon. Their best wide receiver in 2017 was Ricardo Louis, who caught only 27 passes.

5. Denver Broncos: Bradley Chubb, DE, North Carolina St. 

Analysis: Instead of drafting a quarterback, the Broncos will sign Kirk Cousins and draft the best defensive player available — Chubb. He and Von Miller will form an excellent defensive-end duo.

6. New York Jets: Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA.

Analysis: The Jets will fail to sign Cousins, so they will draft the highest-rated quarterback available — Rosen.

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech.

Analysis: Tampa’s defense ranked dead last in the NFL last season. Edmunds will help the Buccaneers the defend the run and pass.

8. Chicago Bears: Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB, Alabama.

Analysis: The Bears desperately need a quality wide receiver, but don’t want to reach for one here. Instead, they take Fitzpatrick, a defensive back to replace starting corner, Kyle Fuller. Fitzpatrick will play corner in the Bears defense, and move to Nickel in their sub packages.

9. Oakland Raiders: Derwin James, S, Florida St. 

Analysis: The Raiders need a safety to replace free agent Reggie Nelson.

TRADE. 49ers send Pick No. 10 to the Buffalo Bills for Pick Nos. 21, 95 and a first-rounder in 2019.

Analysis: The 49ers need a starting guard, but don’t want to take one this high. So, they trade down.

10. Buffalo Bills: Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma.

Analysis: The Bills need a quarterback to replace Tyrod Taylor, who is nothing special. So, the Bills trade in front of the Dolphins, who need a quarterback, too. Mayfield can start right away for Buffalo.

11. Miami Dolphins: Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming.

Analysis: Allen will sit on the bench and learn for a year behind starter Ryan Tannehill.

12. Cincinnati Bengals: Orlando Brown, OT, Oklahoma.

Analysis: The Bengals reach for the best offensive tackle available. They need one desperately.

13. Washington Redskins: Roquan Smith, LB, Geogia.

Analysis: The Redskins defense ranked 32nd out of 32 teams against the run last season.

14. Green Bay Packers: Derrius Guice, RB, LSU.

Analysis: The Packers finally pair Aaron Rodgers with a top-flight running back.

15. Arizona Cardinals: Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville.

Analysis: The Cardinals need a quarterback to replace Carson Palmer, who retired. Cardinals offensive coordinator Mike McCoy has experience working with running quarterbacks like Jackson — McCoy worked with Tim Tebow in Denver.

16. Baltimore Ravens: Vita Vea, DT, Washington.

Analysis: The Ravens need a wide receiver, but won’t reach for one. They’ll take a defensive tackle to pair with Brandon Williams.

17. Los Angeles Chargers: Ronnie Harrison, S, Alabama.

Analysis: Harrison will replace free agent Tre Boston.

18. Seattle Seahawks: Josh Jackson, CB, Iowa.

Analysis: Jackson will replace Richard Sherman, who tore his Achilles last season.

19. Dallas Cowboys: Da’Ron Payne, DT, Alabama.

Analysis: The Cowboys have a hole at defensive tackle.

20. Detroit Lions: Ronald Jones II, RB, USC.

Analysis: The Lions finally pair Matthew Stafford with a top-flight running back.

21. 49ers (from Buffalo): Isaiah Wynn, G, Georgia.

Analysis: Wynn is an excellent pass-protector — he played left tackle in college. He also is a terrific run blocker, who has the speed and quickness to fit the 49ers’ outside-zone blocking scheme. He’s the total package. He will start immediately at left guard.

22. Buffalo Bills: Taven Bryan, DT, Florida.

Analysis: Bryan will replace free agent Kyle Williams.

23. Los Angeles Rams: Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama.

Analysis: The Rams defense ranked 28th against the run last season.

24. Carolina Panthers: Will Hernandez, G, UTEP.

Analysis: Hernandez will replace free agent Andrew Norwell.

25. Tennessee Titans: Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise St.

Analysis: Vander Esch will replace free agent Avery Williamson.

26. Atlanta Falcons: Tim Settle, DT, Virginia Tech.

Analysis: Settle will replace free agent Dontari Poe.

27. New Orleans Saints: Harold Landry, DE, Boston College.

Analysis: Cameron Jordan is the only good pass rusher on the Saints.  Landry will be their second good pass rusher.

28. Pittsburgh Steelers: Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio St.

Analysis: Ward will play nickel in 2018, and replace Joe Haden at corner in 2019.

29. Jacksonville Jaguars: Connor Williams, G/T, Texas.

Analysis: Williams will replace Patrick Omameh at left guard in 2018, and potentially move to right tackle in 2019.

30. Minnesota Vikings: Billy Price, G/C, Ohio St.

Analysis: Price will play guard next to former Ohio St. center Pat Elflein.

31. New England Patriots: Carlton Davis, CB, Auburn.

Analysis: Davis will replace Malcolm Butler.

32. Philadelphia Eagles: Isaiah Oliver, CB, Colorado.

Analysis: The Eagles gave up 500 passing yards in the Super Bowl. They need a corner.

This article has 182 Comments

  1. Edmunds at 7? Yikes! I like the Wynn pick.

    Here’s mine:

    1. Nelson, LG, Notre Dame
    2. Mata’afa, Leo, WSU
    3. Alexander, CB, Louisville
    3. Leonard, LB, South Carolina St.
    4. Hines, RB, North Carolina St.
    5. Bozeman, C, Alabama
    6. Parker, OT, North Carolina A&T

              1. Razor: Not as a single high center fielder.
                * Has limited experience, played in just 26 college games, is still learning. Needs to check out medically, tore his ACL in 2016.
                * IMO: James needs better anticipation in coverage, he can get locked in on receivers route and lose sight of what the QB is doing, (looking thru a straw), slow reads lead to slow reactions. Waits a step too late to support over the top, needs better anticipation .
                I think James James’ talent is best utilized in an active, attacking capacity in a robber role or near the line of scrimmage where he can support the run, blitz and handle physical coverage on TE’s

              2. You might be correct, but I think he has the physical traits to play that role, whether it be next year or on a limited basis this year….

              3. While Jamal Adams was used this year as a linebacker, strong safety, free safety, slot corner and even a corner on the boundary, he played primarily as a SS, and not a single high FS. And he is a stud, as predicted.

              4. Speaking of DB’s and WR’s, I’m going with a CB and WR for the Niners in the 3rd round.

                RND 3, #70) AUDEN TATE, WR, Florida State: I’m not going to deny the fact that I’ve developed a bit of a draft crush for Auden Tate. I think he has an opportunity to develop into a special talent at the NFL level. The 49ers need to add size at outside WR. Tate is an absolute beast, measuring 6’5″ 230 lbs, and his style of play is uncannily similar to Alshon Jeffery, making him a dominant threat on the boundaries and in the redzone. Sure, he’s big, and understands how to leverage his big frame to box out defenders, but he’s also very good at high pointing and attacking the football. However his best quality might be his hands as a pass catcher. I’m talking about that elite ability to pluck the football out of the air, always extending to catch the ball away from his body. Like OBJ, Tate appears to have glue on his hands, allowing him to catch the football at any angle, which is one reason he makes those circus catches on a regular basis. If he runs anywhere in the 4.5’s at the combine, the 49ers MUST target this player in round 3, even if they need to move up higher than #70 to draft him.

                RND 3, #74) KAMERON KELLY, CB, San Diego State: This kid is built perfectly for Saleh’s system. Kelly has experience at Safety and CB, and at 6’2″ 200 lbs, he is a physical CB prospect with the strength and length to effectively knock receivers off of their routes at the of the line, and the speed to stay with speedy receivers downfield. He’s a versatile DB, and as one scouting report notes: teams running the Seattle-style defense (Jacksonville, Atlanta, San Francisco) should be all over Kelly given his ability to play outside cornerback with the length to jam up receivers at the line of scrimmage. Kelly is a confident player, and has the mental makeup necessary to develop into a #1 CB in the NFL.

              5. Speaking of draft crushes, Isaiah Wynn is starting to scratch that itch. I’m not saying I’ll be dreaming about the kid during my REM stages of sleep, but he does seem like a perfect fit for OG/OC.

                Here’s my new 2018 draft motto Grant: “I’m all in on Isaiah Wynn, for the win!” Or “All in on Wynn for the win”, for short.

                He is the perfect size, really athletic, and has great technique as both a run blocker & in pass protection. He has very active hands and uses them to stymie DT’s or pass rushers, and he’s always in position, squaring his shoulder, even if he needs to use his nifty little jump step backwards, forcing linemen to reset their rushing move set. He’s close to elite at getting to the second level, which is key in Kyle’s schemes. Wynn can step in as the 49ers starting Guard now, one either side, and move to Center as the heir apparent to Daniel Kilgore.

              6. I don’t think I’m drafting Wynn in the top 10 though, and there is probably zero chance he last to the 49ers in round 2, so that’s a bit of a conundrum.

                Wynn + Tate + Kelly + Leonard + a dynamic pass rusher + depth on the OL = an NFC west title and playoffs in 2018.

              7. Oh, add RB to that list. I doubt Hyde is returning. Here are my top 5 potential RB’s the 49ers can add during the draft (*subject to change):

                1) Saquon Barkley, but that’s a pipe dream
                2) Ronald Jones II – USC
                3) Sony Michel – Georgia
                4) Mark Walton – Miami
                5) John Kelly – Tennessee

                Honorable mention:

                6) Royce Freeman – Oregon
                7) Nick Chubb – Georgia
                8) Rashaad Penny – San Diego State

    1. Grant:
      * “Analysis: Instead of drafting a quarterback, the Broncos will sign Kirk Cousins and draft the best
      defensive player available.”
      * Denver’s 2018 team salary cap: Est. Cap Space (Top 51): $25,918,793 Mil. (Per spotrac).
      * Free Agent QB Kirk Cousins 2018 Market Value (per Spotrac) $25.6 Mi.
      * So how does Elway sign Cousins and still get under the team salary cap? Who get cut?

          1. I believe his dead money is all that would count if he was cut, which would be just 1 million vs keeping him on the roster which counts as 12 million. Its the 5th year of a 6 year contract, usually teams front load them so they can cut the player on the back end without being handicapped.

        1. Going a little against the grain but I like it at #21 on a trade down scenario. Isaiah Wynn knows that the ability to gain inside hands depends on his quickness and effort, and he plays with urgency at a high pace, and he’s sort of a high-twitch kind of Guard prospect. And I like the trade. I agree with your top 3, Barkley definitely won’t go past the Colts at 3. Fitzpatrick a versatile shut down corner? Yah, he looks the type. Mayfield to the Bills ha? Yah, I could definitely see that. Edmunds at 7 to the Bucs, yah. Not sure I see Ridley going that high. Raiders pass on Roquon Smith, not!

          1. Wynn 6’2″ 300 lbs = Perfect Shanahan size, quick to the second level. Making a living on the second level of the defense and with consistent, high quality pass protection. I think he’s strictly a Guard though right, even though he’s exceptionally quick?

              1. Oh yah, perfect size for Center too. That’s the sweet spot, 6’2″-6’3″ 297 lbs-310 lbs. I know that he also played Tackle, but he’s too short for that at the next level, right?

            1. Wow, is he that quick and fast(4.38)? Not sure. But he’s as polished as they come. And smooth.

              Hey Grant, have you scouted Auden Tate and/or this kid the 49ers are “rumored” to be high on, Marcell Ateman? I know smokescreens right now, but they do need a tall reciever, good on the boundry, red-zone kind of threat. I like Auden Tate in the 3rd, around their 70th, 74th, possibly even 59?

              1. I think Ateman might be a smokescreen for Auden Tate, or Equanimeous St Brown. Make everyone think that they like one big bodied wideout, and take another. Equanimeous has a great name, Tate reminds me of a bigger Alshon Jeffery.

              2. I have been armchair scouting NFL prospects for years. I don’t like to toot my own horn, but I’ve been especially accurate in identifying impact wide receivers. It’s a long list, but here are a few of my recent favorites:

                I was absolutely sky high on OBJ and over the moon when he was rumored to be a 49ers draft target in 2014, though I knew it was too good to be true with Baalke running the show, putting obscure WR names in sealed envelopes. lol. During the same offseason, I argued with multiple colleagues that Brandin Cooks was a far more complete receiver than Tavon Austin, and far more worthy of a round 1 selection than Austin. In 2015, I was hyping the Terrapins’ WR Stefon Diggs, insisting his big-play making ability (he also returned kicks) was worthy of a day 2 pick, instead he lasted to the 5th round, and has been playing at a high level for the Vikings ever since. I was absolutely pounding my table for the Buckeyes’ Michael Thomas and mocked him to the 49ers on here in 2016 as a player worthy of trading back into round one, with a big, fast, #1` WR near the top of the 49ers needs as far back as then, while he inexplicably flew under the radar and lasted till the 47th pick, and is now one of the top receivers in the league. And last year I argued that John Ross wasn’t suited to play WR in the NFL, and I had JuJu Smith-Schuster mocked to the 49ers in multiple mock drafts, arguing that he was the kind of physical wideout that the team needed, and was a much better draft prospect than Ross.

              3. I like Ateman. He’s exactly the type they are looking for, I think I like Tate even better, perhaps St Brown, but maybe Atement has better long speed?

                Ateman would be the 49ers mohamed Sanu?

              4. Tate looks uncannily like Alshon Jeffery in his style of play and skill set, but bigger. Watch out for this kid!

              5. Jeffery ran a 4.48 40, a 6.71 3 cone and a posted a 36.5-inch vert. You think Tate can match those numbers?

              6. Yes I do. We’ll see. Tate sort of glides when he strides, so it’s a question of long speed, but man can this kid attack and snatch the ball! He simply plucks it, natural hands like Jeffery. And at 6’5″ 225 lbs, with big, thick legs, if he’s around 4.5 or even 4.56 …. look out.

            2. Ridley is the best WR in this draft, but I am not really much of a fan of the WRs as a whole this year. Nobody really caught my eye. Only other WR I think should be a first round pick is James Washington. He reminds me of Roddy White.

              I like Gallup as a 2nd/ 3rd round pick.

              1. I agree with you too Scooter. That’s one of the reasons why I was hoping the Niners could land a FA WR, but with Adams off the board it’s not likely they go that route either. Gallup in the 3rd would be really good.

          2. The most likely trade I see is Indy trading down with a QB-hungry team. Or someone who wants Barkely so bad it hurts like a kidney stone.

      1. Can the Broncos outbid the Jets? They’ve stated publicly that they’re willing to pay whatever it takes to get Cousins. Then there’s the Vikings who Cousins says is at the top of his suitor list, along with their new OC’s praise of Cousins….

        1. Better to ask the question this way. Assuming he has a minimum wage figure in mind that all these teams can provide, given the stupid largesse Washington gave him for the past two years, and where he is in his career, does he want:

          (1) The biggest paycheck ever, or
          (2) His best chance to win a couple or three Super Bowl rings?

          There’s some likelihood it’s (2), in which case the Vikings, playing in a weaker division with nearly all the pieces in place on offense and defense, offer him the best chance at those precious rings. Cousins could make the Vikes one of the NFC favorites to go to the Big Game for the next five years. Oh, and he could whip Washington’s butt for their disrespect a few times during that stretch.

            1. Three or four years in the future. And if Seattle stops its slide, and the Cards get a decent QB (hint=they’re going to score in FA or trade with Indy if they don’t), the NFC West teams will average the best divisional roster quality in the league.

              1. Nah, if Lynch nails this draft and he lures a couple key F/A’s, we avoid the injury bug; I truly believe there’s an excellent chance to go all the way….

  2. Josh Sitton released by the Bears in a surprising move. Sitton just 31 years old ranked 5th overall last year. He would be a great addition. Niners ain’t taking a Guard in Rnd 1. It will be addressed in free agency. If they don’t trade down I see Smith as the pick to pair with Foster. If they trade down they could go Wr Sutton as well.

      1. Ridley is most likely off the board Razor by the time the Niners pick. Sutton gives Shanny a guy with size that can win in the Red Zone. That can be found latter as well in the draft. I believe the Niners target Smith, Edmunds in Rnd 1… Just my opinion. They definitely will not go Guard in rnd 1… I don’t see a corner either worth taking as well. Plus I believe they will address corner in free agency too. Guard and Corners in free agency is my guess.

        1. I think Sutton is overrated, and definitely wouldn’t use a 1st on him. If they draft a LB at 9/10, it will for sure be Smith, but with the depth, I just don’t see them going that route unless there are no trade partners, and Nelson is gone. They might decide to take Conner Williams over Smith, and personally, I don’t believe Ridley is a top ten pick. Imho, Grant has Leighton Vander Esch going way too high. I think Daniels is better than Price too….

          1. I agree Razor, Sutton seems overrated to me. It’s the reason I haven’t seriously considered him for the 49ers. He’ll be drafted before he probably should be, and I don’t want the 49ers to be the team that takes him earlier than he deserves to be drafted. I’m not sure how overrated Vander Esch is though. He’s not the most athletic, but he’s incredible instinctive, and mechanically sound.

            1. Vander Esch is another guy who impresses with his length and versatility. He’s plenty athletic. I’ve heard guys compare him to Brian Urlacher in his style of play, and if he’s half the player Urlacher was …….

              If the 49ers draft Ward, I’ll be sorely disappointed.

              1. LVE just isn’t a complete player yet, and he’ll probably be over drafted like Davenport, based on his physical traits….

              2. “AJ McCarron wins grievance, will become a unrestricted FA this offseason.”

                Now there’s an overrated player IMO!

              3. So you don’t think Vander Esch is a first round prospect? You could be right. He’s #46 on my pre-combine draft board.

          1. I would think T Johnson would be there top target in free agency followed by Butler. Better fit for Johnson. Some quality guards available too. Norwell, Pugh and now Sitton. Any of those 3 would be great.

            1. Johnson is going to cost serios coin, and Grant has called his work ethic into question. I think Sitton has played in a ZBS his entire career, graded out better than Norwell and should be much cheaper….

              1. Got to wonder why two teams were willing to let Sitton go. The Sitton camp would probably say money. The Bears might just be in rebuild mode, but he had issues in GB.


                “Overtly, Sitton never seemed to be a grumbler, but sources said he could also be “brash and highly opinionated,” and sometimes “openly disparaged personnel moves, coaching decisions and his teammates’ abilities” around the team facility.”

              2. Green Bay FO just mad that Sitton wasn’t shy about calling them out for riding AR and doing everything on the cheap!!!! they have the best qb in the league…….but don’t put any talent around him!!!!!! its a shame they only have 1 ring in the AR era!!!!
                And look what happen to those GB FO cheepskates………..

                id welcome sitton…….. it takes heart and leadership skills and courage to call out dead beats!!!!!!
                its only in 2018 that pride, work ethic and the desire to win…….and having the balls to call ppl out on their B.S are considered bad quality’s

  3. Thank you for having the 49ers picking 10th (before the trade). Most mocks are jinxing the 49ers by listing them picking 9th.

  4. I don’t see Ridley going that high. Your Niner trade is very possible, but they would take Price over Wynn at 20 IMO. I think Ward and Landry will go higher, maybe Connor Williams too. All in all, not bad for a pre-Combine and free agency mock.

  5. Grant, thanks for the mock. I can’t critique with any confidence until I watch game breakdowns. after the free agency dust settles.

    Some thoughts…
    – I’d be tempted to leapfrog Seattle. Trade 21+95 for Chargers 17. Take Josh Jackson. Failing trade up, take Denzel Ward at 21. (this changes if the 49ers sign a free agent corner)

    – When I considered trade back’s with the Bills, my mind was on taking Billy Price. But I don’t know how suited he is to zone. I haven’t seen any breakdowns yet.

    – With Ward and Price remaining, a trade back from 21 to the 28-30 range would net another 3rd rounder. That would leave 4 picks in the 3rd round. Lots of ammo to move pick 59 higher. Isaiah Wynn might even be there.

  6. Regarding the trade with the bills – I don’t see how we could do that trade without getting either both of their first rounders OR at least 1 (if not both) of their 2nd rounders. They simply have too much ammunition to only give up a 3rd round pick in 2017 to move into the top 10 all the way from 21. That’s a bad deal for us I think.

    If I’m the Bills, I’d rather give up 22nd pick of 2017 draft to move into the top 10, rather than wait until 2019 and have a possibility of giving up a top 10 pick. At least for now, they know the first rounder is in the back 1/3rd of the first round instead of the top 1/3rd. With a rookie QB coming to town, chances of drafting top 10 in 2019 is pretty high.

    Or if they’re adamant about keeping pick #22, then ask for both of their 2nd rounders.

    1. The Bills would be giving up three picks — their first rounder and third rounder this year, and their first rounder next year.

      1. Grant,

        I think you’ve underestimated the value and placement of the Niners first round pick. I too think it is a possibility that they trade with Buffalo but, if the QB Buffalo wants is there, it is for both of Buffalo’s first round picks this year and a 2 next year. With that second first round pick, the Niners draft Vander Esch from Boise State to ultimately start alongside or replace Foster.

        I agree with your pick of an OL – specifically a future tackle who will first play guard. I think this changes if the Niners sign a starting OL in Free Agency. If so, I think they select the Humboldt State offensive lineman in Round 2 and go a different direction with their first pick. Namely, a pass rusher, cornerback or wide receiver.

        1. I would not draft Vander Esch in the 2nd round, let alone in the 1st. I’d prefer Leonard, and even Warner over LVE. Cappa in round 2? Yikes!

      2. I get that. But why ask for a 2019 pick when they already have more than enough ammunition in 2018? Typically teams offer future first rounders because they don’t have the capital in the current year. With two firsts and two seconds, the bills are loaded.

        That’s why it makes no sense to me. If all a team had was 1 pick in each round, then I could see how a future first would make sense. But obviously, that’s not the case.

          1. Not really. They have a good defense and some good playmakers on O. Qb is pretty much all they’re missing. I’d trade them our second for their two first and 2nd next year.

        1. I agree with Grant on this. 2 firsts to move up to 10 is too steep. If they are willing to offer both firsts, expect them to move higher.
          Additionally, they might feel like their first next year, will be lower, if they can upgrade their qb.

  7. Here’s my mini mock.

    1. Darnold
    2. Allen
    3. Chubb
    4. Barkley
    5. Rosen or Mayfield if no Cousins.
    6. Rosen or Mayfield if no Cousins.

  8. If the 49ers miss out on Nelson then I agree trading down is the best move (if a reasonable trade is offered). Wynn or Price would be good. Or Connor Williams.

    With Sitton now available I think the 49ers should bring him in. Him or Pugh. Get that OL fixed. Both OG spots need upgrading.

        1. I think Hernandez is well suited as a Zone Blocker. He is good on the Pull and gets to the second level well. He doesn’t deliver the initial punch that moves defenders like Nelson in the Run Game, but in the ZBS that’s not as big of an issue.

          That’s why I’m not as much of a proponent of Nelson as many others are… his biggest attribute wont be highlighted in Shanahan’s system. Don’t get me wrong I wouldn’t be disappointed in drafting Nelson, but I feel he would be a far better suited to a power system where his initial punch, and the movement he generates (which are special) would be highlighted far more. However, because this system doesn’t highlight that ability the drop-off from Nelson to Hernandez or Wynn just isnt that much in my opinion. (*Note*, if the Niners were still running Harbaugh’s system, I would RUN to the podium for Nelson.)

          In terms of pass pro, it could easily be argued that Hernandez is the best at the guard position. He seems to just stonewall players, allowing them no push. The major benefit of that is, it could allow the niners to combo more with guard and center on the other side.

          1. Good breakdown Shoup. I echo your sentiments on Nelson. Tremendous player but I’m not sure this system is the ideal fit, although Razor says he will be fine no matter where he winds up, which I could also see with how talented he is.

            1. Thanks Rocket,
              I actually don’t disagree with Razor on Nelson ( I think he ís the 2nd or 3rd Best player in the draft) as I believe he will be good regardless of where he goes… I just don’t think he will be as special of a player for us as he would be in the right system.
              An example I have of that is Justin Smith. He was a good player as a 4-3 DE but he wasn’t special. Then he came to SF, was converted to a 3-4 DE and suddenly was an All Pro and widely considered the best at his position.
              He was only an above average player, until he was put in a system that properly utilised his skill set,and then he became special.

              1. Razor,
                I’ve seen that play and it was a great play. He’s a good blocker even on the move.
                But he is an elite Road Grader and Shanahan’s system doesn’t require his linemen to do that very often. So if I remove that aspect of his game and specifically look at how he is on the move and in pass pro vs other top guys,(because that’s what he will be asked to do in this system) he’s only slightly better than them.
                Don’t get me wrong , he’s better than every guard across the board, but he truly separates from them as a power blocker, and he won’t be asked to do that very often in this system.

              2. Just because the scheme is built around settling for weaker and lighter Offensive Lineman, doesn’t mean you pass on an elite prospect that can execute, while being bigger and stronger. That’s just my opinion. We probably won’t get a chance to take him, or maybe the 49ers think like you. I’ll admit I have a crush on the guy, and so I may be a bit biased. I do think about facing Donald twice a year, and Kilgore needs all the help he can get on both sides of him….

  9. The fact is last year was considered a weak QB class and yet teams were trading up as fast as they could to select them. This year will be no different, especially with more potential at the position. Teams won’t wait, they will make a move. I could definitely see the Ravens or even Patriots surprising everybody and trading up to select Josh Allen, raw with an incredibly high ceiling.

  10. Niners figure they won’t be drafting this high for some time so unless someone blows them away with a trade they’ll sit right there and take best player available 1. QNelson 2. SBarkley 3. C.Ridley 4. M.Fitzpatrick. Any one of these cats will make immediate impact.

    The trade down for Wynn would be a nice one, I just don’t think it’ll happen w/ Niners.

    1. Good idea, except:
      1) Nelson won’t be there;
      2) Barkley won’t be there;
      3) Ridley will be, but they shouldn’t bite (he’s *not* the second coming of Julius Jones);
      4) Fitzpatrick probably won’t be there, but he’s probably better suited for FS than SS…and the Niners have a gem in Colbert there already.

      If the Niners were about three or four spots higher in the draft, they’d be licking their chops at the trades available from QB-needy teams. Especially if Minny gets Cousins.

  11. Vander Esch is probably a third rounder, but depends on what a team is looking for in a middle linebacker. It wouldn’t be out of the question to see him go in the second; the computer simulation on has had him go in the 2nd round a couple times when I run the draft simulation while picking as the Niners.

    What the Niners do with their first round pick is really going to be about best available I think (I believe Lynch is a “best player available” rather than “draft for need” General Manager). I think free agency should play a factor; for example, if we bring in either Sitton or Norwell, the need for Nelson is not as prevalent (though I would argue otherwise, given I don’t know what Garnett has). The reason I can see the Niners jumping on a cornerback or wide receiver in the first round is because there is a lack of top-end free agents at those positions (I would gladly take the risk on Marcus Peters if he is in fact truly available for trade, but Butler, Fuller, Trumaine Johnson, and Vontae Davis all have questions). Personally, I would stay away from receiver in the first because I think whomever we bring in, either as a free agent or as a draft pick, is really a fourth receiver on this team next season (Garcon and Goodwin outside, Trent Taylor in the slot).

    Prediction: Both Ansah and Lawrence get franchise tagged, leaving the edge pass rusher position the most lacking in availability. Which means an edge rusher will be a top priority for the Niners in the draft (either Mata’afa or Okoronkwo in the second if Chubb does not miraculously fall to 9 or 10).

    1. I think you’ve got it. Whichever pass rusher we draft will be situational, unless it’s Chubb. Neither Carlton Davis or Isaiah Oliver will be there at 59, and my next favorite CB is Jaire Alexander. Chances are we might have to settle for McFadden at 59. The problem with that is I doubt Mata’afa or Okoronkwo last until round 3, and so you have to decide; is McFadden a starting corner? If so, situational pass rusher might have to wait until round 3 where lesser talent like Turay or Holland should be there. If not, take Mata’afa at 59 and then I’d take either Yiadom in the 3rd and hope he develops as quickly as Witherspoon, or roll the dice on a character risk like Hill, who has 2nd round talent….

  12. I almost bought these sneakers online, then left them in my shopping cart. Now everywhere I go online, including this site, there they are! Go away Reebok, I don’t want you anymore!!

    It’s making it so that I cannot even think properly.

    1. Davenport is another player being overrated, and should not be drafted until round two. RJ2 is my 4th best back, and if he’s still on the board day 2, I will be very surprised….

  13. I wouldn’t disagree with your overrated comment… it’s tough to judge C-USA film as well, but his measurables are pretty impressive. Teams obviously covet that elusive edge rusher and I would see them stretching for that possibility over the 4th rated RB. Nothing against RJ, I only make that reference in terms of positions. If his combine is solid, I think he’s called on Thursday night, IMO.

    1. Oh, I can see a team reaching for Davenport mid to late first round, but that will be a mistake, imho. As for the running back position; this group has insane talent at the top. I judge on these primary 3 factors: Vision/decision-making, contact balance/finishing and burst/acceleration, followed by these 3 secondary factors: Agility/elusiveness, receiving ability, and long speed. If I’m a zone heavy running team, RJ2 is a perfect storm….


    “I talked to multiple guys who said they were talking to their agents because they want to be here,” Juszczyk said. “I talked to guys at the Pro Bowl. I’ve talked to former teammates. This is a place where people want to be.”

    Hmm. Which Pro Bowlers were talking to Juice? And will FAs take less money to play with Jimmy and for Shanny because they would have a chance at winning multiple Super Bowls?

    1. One of the allures of the 49ers is the loads of cap space. I doubt FAs will give the 49ers much of a discount if any. But if a FA gets a good offer from the 49ers and another team that missed the playoffs this year then I think that is where the 49ers will have an edge.

      1. You’re probably right WRT this year. That could change in 2019 assuming we have a playoff run this year.

        What did you think of Juice’s former teammates comment? Jensen maybe? Would the Niners still be interested? Not sure if they would move Kilgore to G because of Jimmy. I know Jensen played backup G some. Would he be worth the money as a G?

        1. There are better OG options than Jensen. I think we just have to accept Kilgore will be the centre and likely backed up by a draft pick.

          I wonder if Mike Wallace might be a guy that interests the 49ers though.

            1. It would be nice if Garnett can be one of those stalwarts with Nelson on the other side.

              I see you had Bozeman in your mock, a good fit. Could be ready to go by the time Kilgore’s contract is up, if not sooner.

              1. It would be nice if Garnett can be one of those stalwarts with Nelson on the other side.

                It would be, #80 but I think the 49ers have to proceed as if he isn’t.

              2. Exactly, razor. Anything positive they get from Garnett is gravy. But they should plan as if they need two OGs.

  15. Like the way you’re thinking on this Grant. Wynn was someone that I was thinking could move from tackle to guard for the 49ers.

    Of course, the fact that I like this option guarantees that it won’t happen.

  16. A small School sleeper to watch at the Combine.
    * OT, Greg Senat, Wagner: 6′ 7″ X 300.
    * Likely a day 3 draft pick that showed he had skill to play against better talent at the Shrine game…. some scouts graded him one of the top O-lineman that played at the E/W game. Senat has strength and surprising movement skills. As one scout described him, “Senat is a fire hydrant that can move.”

    1. GEEP,
      Good looking out on Senat. Another small school player that might make some noise at the combine is OT/G Jamil Denbe from the University of Maine. Sure the kid played against lesser talent, but he dominated at his position to the point that scouts want to see him at the combine.

  17. Nelson isn’t going 2. Guards are not valued as high as tackles in NFL. If Giants go BPA, it’s Barkley. He is the best back to come out in 10 years. This is likely a QB heavy draft at top. When you have a chance at a franchise QB, you take it.

    QB’s – Four will go in top 10. Don’t sleep on Allen. The gap between Darnold, Rosen, Allen and Mayfield, is not huge. Allen has the highest ceiling. Mayfield and Rosen are the most pro-ready. Darnold has best combination of talent/readiness.

    This mock assumes Cousins ends up in DEN. IND trades back twice (they need help everywhere). In process, Chubbs falls far enough for SF to make trade with CHI.

    CLE – Darnold
    NYG – Allen
    NYJ (from IND) – Rosen
    CLE – Barkley
    DEN – Nelson
    BUF (from IND) – Mayfield
    TB – Fitzpatrick
    SF (from CHI) – Chubb
    CHI – Ridley
    OAK – Edmunds

    This mock assumes Cousins ends up in NYJ, and IND trades back with DEN. Nelson goes to SF.

    CLE – Darnold
    NYG – Allen
    DEN – Rosen
    CLE – Barkley
    IND – Chubb
    ARI (from NYJ) – Mayfield
    TB – Fitzpatrick
    CHI – Ridley
    SF – Nelson
    OAK – Edmunds

    If you are looking for a fun mock draft app, download MockOut. Very cool and allows you to do trades.

        1. The Giants problem has been their OTs mainly. Though the interior of the OL did struggle last season as well without Richburg and with Pugh playing hurt.

          Pugh would be a good addition for the 49ers.

      1. Isn’t that Colts’ problem as well? Gore hasn’t been as much the problem as OL there. OL sucks run and pass.
        IMO Giants should use the opportunity for QBOTF at #2. Rumors have them pursuing the Panthers’ OG in FA.
        IMO Nelson could help Colts even more than Chubb could. Fitzpatrick could help them as well. Trade back also a possibility for Colts.
        If Denver intends on keeping 2 WRs and ORT, seems difficult for them to sign Cousins.

          1. Mel Kiper, and I know Razoreater doesn’t like the ESPN experts, has Tampa Bay taking Quenton Nelson in his most recent mock. Makes sense given their own issues with protecting Winston, and their running game averaging less than 4 yards a carry

            1. Could be, but Wright has the Bucs taking Vita Vea – vegemin and here’s his reasoning:

              All things being equal, defensive end and cornerback are probably the Bucs top priorities. Unfortunately Bradley Chubb and Minkah Fitzpatrick are both off the board and whether there’s another prospect at either position worthy of a Top 10 pick is debatable. Tampa has a big hole in the middle of their defensive line next to Gerald McCoy too though after parting ways with Chris Baker.

          1. Yup. Like SF, they need help almost everywhere.
            @#3 they’d fill a need at RB,OG, Chubb, Fitzpatrick. It’s too high for R.Smith, but they’re readopting Tampa2 and need a Mike who can really run, so they could drop back a few spots and get him.

  18. Without a doubt we will have to see what happens in free agency but if the 9ers don’t fill their need for a top line pass rusher and CB in FA then I think they will draft D in the first 2 rounds. Earlier I mocked a trade back to Buff and drafting Denzel Ward and I will stick with that if they don’t sign a top notch CB in FA.

    1. Why Ward over Jackson? Ward is handsy much like Rasheed Robinson, he’s 5 pass interference flags a game, waiting to happen.

  19. My preference would be to stay put and draft a big wide receiver at our position. The guard and Corner-back needs can be dealt with through free agency. For the first time since the days of Steve Young we have a big time QB on the roster. Its time we gave him a legitimate #1 weapon at the WR position. With all due respect to Goodwin, Bourne, Taylor, Garcon etc etc, 49ers don’t have a #1 receiver on the roster. I say roll the dice on Courtland Sutton, Equinimous St. Brown, or even Audin Tate or Simmie Cobb. I know a lot of you will say none of these guys are worth picking at #9 or #10 but in this case need has to overcome the best player available.

    BTW: Has the coin toss between the Niners and the Raiders to see who picks #9 happened yet?

      1. Rocket / Geep: Thank you. Grant put the Raiders firmly in #9 position in his mock so I thought maybe I missed the coin toss news.

  20. Hard to do mock drafts before FA but I’m pretty confident at least 4 QB’s go top ten after teams trade up. The first two picks will be QB’s for sure.

    Unless Chubb somehow falls to the Niners pick which won’t happen, I’d prefer a trade down. Josh Allen or Mayfield may still be on the board which could present a good trade opportunity. Other than the QB position, there is not a big gap between the quality of player in the top half of the first round to the bottom imo.

      1. Those are both good guesses GEEP. I think Cousins likely prefers Minnesota, but his agent will like the offers from the Jets and maybe the Browns better. Personally, I think his best bet is Denver if they can find the cap room somehow.

  21. I love Wynn and and made mention of him last week, but if Roquan or Treamine is still on the table at 9 or 10 we will stand pat.
    The Foster incident may have caused Lynch and Shanahan to preempt their draft plans to put LB as their high priority.

    We will find some good needed pieces in FA but our LB will come by way of the draft.

      1. My off the ball LB rankings based on these simple attributes; keying/diagnosis, range/tackling, mental processing, and coverage skill :

        1. Roquan Smith
        2. Rashaan Evans
        3. Tremaine Edmunds
        4. Fred Warner
        5. Darius Leonard
        6. Leighton Vander Esch
        7. Malik Jefferson
        8. Jack Cichy
        9. Shaun Dion Hamilton

  22. I love it. Wynn is one of my top 3 draft crushes and I have been mocking a trade down with Buffalo for a few weeks now. I would also look at Ronald Jones from USC in a trade down. I think he is going to be a heck of a NFL RB and is a perfect fit in Kyle’s offense. Harold Landry is another guy I really like in a trade down

    Updated Mock Draft.

    We trade down from 9 (man I really hope we win the coin flip) with Buffalo and get back the Bills 21st, 56th pick and a Second Round pick next year and the option to swap first round picks.

    21st Pick: Issiah Wynn, OG, Georgia

    56th Pick: Dorance Armstrong, DE-OLB, Kansas

    59th Pick: J.C Jackson, CB, Maryland

    70th Pick: D.J Moore, WR, Maryland

    74th Pick: Rashaan Penny, RB, San Diego State or Akrum Wadley, RB, Iowa

  23. Razor,
    Not only does Tremaine or Smith make sense as a possible replacement for Reuben, but they have the ability to become pro-bowl/all-pro type players and obviously make our defense one of the best in the league.
    If Lynch wants one of these LB’s he will get one just like he was able to go after Foster.
    Sure there are some other LB’s to chose from after the 1st rd but there’s a reason why they are not categorized as top-tier (top ten picks).

    For years many on this blog have cited that we need to go after top-tier players in the draft. I can’t think of any other LB’s in the draft that fall in this category more than Smith or Edmunds.
    Is a 9 or 10 pick a little too high for these guys? Maybe, but the fact that I see them as day one contributors makes their top ten pick justifiable.

    I see no FA LB’s that will be impact contributors for us and there is a question whether Malcolm Smith can be the player he was when he played for the seahags. The raiders defense is horrible so when a player like Malcolm Smith can’t stick that says something about whether he still has value.
    Do you want Brock Coyle as your starter in 2018?

    1. Darius Leonard and Fred Warner are excellent LB’s that combine position/value in rounds 2 and 3. Two more, Tegray Scales and Josey Jewell, who are very good LB’s with not quite the speed of the aforementioned….

  24. So according to this Mock Draft, the 49ers give up a chance to draft:

    9 Players probably not on the 49ers board as potential 1st round picks they’d actually select:
    Baker Mayfield, Josh Allen, Lamar Jackson (All QB’s the 9ers wouldn’t consider drafting)
    Orlando Brown (OT who the 49ers might consider but they are set for the next year or 2 at Tackle so this pick would probably not be a 1st round priority right now.)
    Vita Vea, Da’Ron Payne – D lineman who would be good additions but I just cant see the 9ers going d-line again in the 1st round given how many 1st round D-lineman they’ve picked the past few years.
    Derrius Guice, Ronald Jones (RB’s that I like but Shanny doesn’t really do 1st round RB’s.)
    Ronnie Harrison (Good player but the 49ers are set at the position).

    2 Players the 49ers could really use.
    Roquan Smith, Josh Jackson (LB and CB that would be immediate starters and major upgrades. Missing out on these 2 hurts a little bit.)

    In return the 49ers get a high quality OG, which is their biggest need IMO, AND they get a 3rd round pick this year & 1st round pick next year?

    I do that deal every day of the week and twice on Sunday.

  25. Ateman is JJ Stokes 2.0…..Caught from behind tooooo many times !

    TE , Hikutini, is already on our roster—Baalke’s gone so we won’t see this overdrafting again!

  26. Looking for Leo: Pass rushers who will intrigue the 49ers at the scouting combine

    Sam Hubbard, Ohio State – He has the motor and relentlessness the 49ers are looking for at position, but perhaps not the athleticism. The question the 49ers would have to ask if Hubbard were available with, say, their pick late in the second round is how much of an upgrade would he be over players currently at the position.

  27. Grant – I’m a big fan of your column. But on this draft prognostication I must object. At pick no 2, there is no way NYG will pick Quinton Nelson. Giants greatest o-line need is LT, where Erik Flowers has struggled, thus causing Eli to struggle. The NFL no longer values the interior line as much as LT. Given the Giants may not be pick this high again, the last time they picked 2 was the original LT, IMHO, NYG will pick ORLANDO BROWN out of Oklahoma. Because there will be an unexpected run on LT’s, assuming Denver signs a veteran QB, my crystal ball says Niners will have Saquon Barkley fall to them at 9, and should field all trade offers but if Barkley falls to them at pick, take him.

    1. You raise a valid point. When talented OT’s are available, they usually go quickly. Very few mocks have any going in this years top 10. Most likely, one or two will. That means with 4 QB’s likely going and a couple OT’s, some top talent is going to fall.

    2. As NFL defenses have moved away from traditional 3-4 schemes and toward under and over-shaded fronts, guards have become just as valuable as offensive tackles. Someone has to block the dominant three-technique interior rusher.

      1. It may be shifting that way but they are not seen equally in the NFL yet.
        Otherwise there should be more than one guard listed as one of the top 10 paid Olinemen.

        1. True, but a guard was drafted with the fifth pick just three years ago, and Nelson is a much better prospect than that guard was.

          1. Major Nelson is the best player in this draft, and probably the best guard to come out in 10 years. So what if he’s a guard? Larry Allen was a guard. Steve Hutchinson was a guard that forced a change to the “poison pill” rule. Brandt mentioned that Norwell is expected to set a new record for a guard contract. I’m fond of guards, especially the golden domer…;>)

            1. Yep. Time to stop thinking of OGs as second rate citizens. Need good ones to combat all those good 3Ts in the NFL these days.

            2. Larry Allen? Steve Hutchison?

              Thats a lot to throw on a player who hasn’t played a down of NFL football. How about we say he has a chance to be really good so he might break the mold for guards and go in the top 5.

              1. Say what you will. Dudes a monster, and will dominate whoever is across from him. If comparing him to Mike Munchak makes you feel any better, I will. Major Nelson’s combination of prototypical size, sheer power, efficient athleticism, and finishing mentality suggests to me that he’ll have an immediate impact and garner future Pro Bowl ballots….

  28. Assuming none of these positions are filled, this is who I would want, 1 being my first choice.

    1. G Nelson
    2. CB Jackson
    3. ILB Smith

    If all three positions are filled in free agency, I would look to trade down.

    1. Nah, the depth at LB is insane in this draft and LVE is not a complete player. I’ve got Edmunds as my 3rd rated off the ball LB, behind Smith and Evans. Of course I’m basing this opinion on my own hack studying of the tape that’s available to me on the internet, and not Mr. Trepasso….

      1. I like Edmunds over the others because he has more natural athleticism, he is still young (19 or 20) with more upside potential. Vander Esch is not far behind. Be interesting to see how they do at the combine.

  29. I think the Colts take a QB with their first pick. They have to. The have a QB who hasn’t thrown a football in almost a year and a half a likely won’t be throwing prior to the draft or if he is throwing,, a shadow of his former self.. . You cannot leverage a guy who can’t throw no matter how good he was. I think they will select Josh Allen with their 3rd pick.

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