The 49ers wanted to obtain a No. 1 receiver this offseason. They pursued Allen Robinson, but failed to sign him. This is their chance to give Jimmy Garoppolo a top target.
This may seem a bit early for Courtland Sutton, but it sounds like he'll be the first receiver chosen in this class. Plus, recall that the top three wideouts from the 2017 NFL Draft class went earlier than expected. Given how much money receivers have been making in free agency this spring, I think it's very likely that players at that position are chosen before most anticipate once again.
*** OTHER 2018 NFL DRAFT POSSIBILITIES: ***
1. Minkah Fitzpatrick, S - I'm THIS close to switching this pick to Fitzpatrick. I'll probably do so on Tuesday.
2. Tremaine Edmunds/Roquan Smith, LBs - Both of the top linebackers are in play here, as the 49ers have to replace the troubled Reuben Foster.
Rd. 2, Pk. 27
Connor Williams, OT, Texas
The 49ers are going to use another pick on a position that they pursued in free agency, but failed to address. They tried to sign Andrew Norwell, but he went to Jacksonville. Here's their new guard.
Connor Williams is seen by many as a tackle, but some NFL personnel believe that because of a lack of length, he'll have to play guard even though he's not really strong enough to play guard.
Rd. 3, Pk. 6
Arden Key, DE/3-4OLB, LSU
The 49ers took a chance on a troubled player in Reuben Foster last year. I wonder if their strategy will change at all, as Arden Key has issues of his own. However, using a third-round pick on Key is far less riskier than the first-rounder on Foster.
Rd. 3, Pk. 10
Josey Jewell, OLB/ILB, Iowa
I mentioned Reuben Foster a few picks ago. It's uncertain if he'll ever play in the NFL again, so the 49ers need to find some help at linebacker.
Rd. 4, Pk. 28
Scott Quessenberry, G/C, UCLA
The 49ers signed Weston Richburg, but he doesn't have the best injury history. Here's an insurance policy.
Rd. 5, Pk. 6
Kalen Ballage, RB, Arizona State
The 49ers signed Jerick McKinnon, but he can't shoulder a full workload. Here's a running back to pair with McKinnon.
Rd. 6, Pk. 10
Armani Watts, S, Texas A&M
It doesn't appear as though Eric Reid will be back. Here's a replacement for him.
Rd. 7, Pk. 5
Frank Ginda, ILB, San Jose State
The 49ers needed linebacker help even before Reuben Foster got into legal trouble.
Rd. 7, Pk. 22
Byron Pringle, WR, Kansas State
Some late-round receiving help makes sense for the 49ers, who need to add more weapons.
A general manager told me the 49ers are desperate to trade down, and I think they have a shot at doing it. If the 49ers stay here, I've heard that the top candidates are Solomon Thomas, Jamal Adams and Marshon Lattimore. While I know lot of teams that graded Thomas as a mid- to late first-rounder, there are enough teams that like him in the top 10 that he should go high.
WalterFootball.com was the first to report that Thomas intended to enter the 2017 NFL Draft. The junior enjoyed an excellent 2016 season as a big presence on the edge of the Stanford defense. On the year, he had 62 tackles with 15 for a loss, eight sacks and one forced fumble. Sources from seven NFL teams told me that they graded Thomas a mid- to late first-rounder. Two teams said they had Thomas in the top 10 of the 2017 NFL Draft, but there are enough teams in the top 10 that like him that he should go that high.
Thomas has good speed off the edge with strength and physicality. Teams feel that the 6-foot-2, 273-pounder fits best as a defensive end in a 4-3 defense. Many sources said that Thomas is a bit of a tweener and doesn't have a great fit in a 3-4 defense. He probably would play outside linebacker if drafted into a 3-4 scheme. Teams really like Thomas off the field as well.
Rd. 2, Pk. 2
Zach Cunningham, OLB/ILB, Vanderbilt
The 49ers could use a linebacker upgrade, and Cunningham is a good value in the second round.
In 2016, Cunningham totaled 125 tackles with 16.5 for a loss, three passes batted and one forced fumble. The 6-foot-3, 234-pounder is a quick, instinctive linebacker who is a reliable tackler. He is a versatile player with the skill set to be a three-down starter in the NFL. There has been buzz about Cunningham in scouting circles, and teams are giving him late first-round/early second-round grades.
In 2015, Cunningham totaled 103 tackles with 16.5 tackles for a loss, 4.5 sacks, three passes batted and four forced fumbles on the year. He was only a redshirt sophomore that season and has upside to develop.
Rd. 3, Pk. 3
Jalen Tabor, CB, Florida
The 49ers could use more cornerback talent and have shown interest in Tabor.
Tabor totaled 33 tackles with four interceptions and six passes broken up in 2016. Because of getting in a fight with a teammate, Tabor was suspended for the 2016 opener, but he covered really well after that and was a ballhawk. As a sophomore, Tabor recorded 40 tackles, 14 passes broken up and four interceptions, two of them being pick-sixes. Tabor did hurt his draft stock with a suspension during his sophomore season as well. He had an excellent freshman season in 2014, totaling 31 tackles with an interception and eight passes broken up that year.
Some team sources say that Tabor's best role might be as a big nickel corner in the NFL. The 6-foot, 199-pounder is lacking long speed and can give up plays downfield. He is great underneath with very good instincts, feel and awareness. Sometimes though, he is too much of a gambler. Tabor succeeds when plays are in front of him, but gets in trouble with plays behind or over him. Multiple team sources like other first-round corner prospects more than Tabor, but Tabor still projects to Thursday night.
Rd. 4, Pk. 4
Wayne Gallman, RB, Clemson
The 49ers could take some running back depth with Carlos Hyde entering a contract year.
In 2016, Gallman averaged 5.1 yards per carry for 1,087 yards with 16 touchdowns. He tacked on 17 receptions for 113 yards as well. Gallman was the workhorse of the Clemson offense in 2015, averaging 5.4 yards per carry for 1,527 yards with 13 touchdowns. He also caught 21 passes for 213 yards with a score.
Gallman (6-0, 215) has impressive feet with the ability to be elusive in the open field. He also possesses tremendous lateral quickness to dodge tacklers and a burst to accelerate running North-South. Gallman is a quick runner who could stand to add some weight for the next level.
Gallman already has some power to him to pound the ball for some tough yards and finish off runs. It would be good to see him improve his knee bend and pad level. He is a taller back, and as a result, he can run a little upright at times. That could lead to issues with injuries and ball security.
Rd. 4, Pk. 4
George Kittle, TE, Iowa
The 49ers could grab some tight end depth and have shown interest in Kittle.
Kittle (6-4, 247) used the combine to help his draft stock as he ran much faster than expected in the 40 and worked out well on the field. As a senior, he made 22 receptions for 314 yards with four touchdowns while playing in a rushing offense. Kittle had 20 catches for 290 yards and six scores as a junior.
Rd. 5, Pk. 5
Nico Siragusa, G, San Diego State
The 49ers grab another offensive lineman.
Rd. 5, Pk. 5
Nathan Peterman, QB, Pittsburgh
The 49ers grab a developmental quarterback.
Rd. 6, Pk. 6
Amba Etta-Tawo, WR, Syracuse
The 49ers will probably add a few receivers for competition.
Rd. 6, Pk. 6
Steven Taylor, OLB, Houston
The 49ers could use some outside linebacker for their switch to a 4-3 scheme.
Rd. 7, Pk. 7
Dalton Crossan, RB, New Hampshire
The 49ers get some backfield depth and hosted Crossan on a visit.
The Niners' need for a cornerback is significant even after signing Richard Sherman, so having Denzel Ward on the board here is tantalizing, but selecting Edmunds could do a lot more for this team. Edmunds is built like 3-4 outer linebacker and is capable of also playing inner linebacker. And while Robert Saleh's defense is a base 4-3 scheme, it has a lot of sets which blend both the 4-3 and 3-4 base, looking a lot like the defense Seattle's run under Dan Quinn and Gus Bradley.
Having Edmunds also allows San Francisco some form of insurance if Reuben Foster doesn't bounce back from his character issues, but regardless, Edmunds provides a pass rushing attack from almost any linebacker position and considering the Niners finished with the sixth-least sacks in the NFL last season, his selection implies an automatic production boost.
The 49ers could go a lot of different routes with this pick, and I've heard they love Minkah Fitzpatrick. San Francisco is not expected to re-sign free agent Eric Reid, while Jaquiski Tartt and Jimmie Ward are in the last year of their contracts. Fitzpatrick would be a great scheme fit and could help form a talented secondary with Richard Sherman and Akhello Witherspoon.
Fitzpatrick totaled 60 tackles, one interception, eight passes broken up and a forced fumble in 2017. He played really well, doing everything that could be asked of a safety. Fitzpatrick is an instinctive center fielder, covering receivers deep downfield. He is also fast in pursuit, tackles well in space at the second level, can come down into the box, and is able to play man coverage against tight ends and slot receivers, plus help out his cornerbacks. The 6-foot, 204-pounder has enough size and some natural cover skills. Sources have said that Fitzpatrick is a good fit as a free safety for the NFL. While some evaluators don't feel that Fitzpatrick is a dynamic athlete, they say he is very good player with a high football IQ. <br> <br>
In 2016, Fitzpatrick recorded 66 tackles with seven passes broken up and six interceptions. He was dominant at times for Alabama, splitting time between corner and safety. Fitzpatrick had a superb 2015 season for the Crimson Tide. The freshman totaled 45 tackles with two sacks, 11 passes broken up and two interceptions - both returned for a touchdowns.
The 49ers draft strategy looks alot diffent than it did at the begging of the year. The addition of Jimmy GQ has tunred the franchise into one of hope. The quesition could now turn to the defensive side of the ball.
Fiesty is a great word to descive Denzel Ward. His top end speed and tenacity allows him to make some really exciting plays. He's got good ball skills and excels and man coverage. Ward could make a big impact in year one much like former teamater Marshon Lattimore did.
Now we clearly know why the 49ers never wanted play Jimmy Garoppolo and obviously knew they would win too many games landing them a pick outside of the top 5. In fact, if he played one more game he could have played them out of the top 10 picks. Now with the hardest thing solved on the roster with Jimmy they should now look to find him a proper supporting cast to continue moving forward. They seem pretty bright with John Lynch at the helm and should look to improve the offensive line with clearly the best blocker in the draft. Of course guards are not as highly regarded in this poor offensive line league we live in now, but Nelson is a rare blue chip guard who should be a top pick. He has good balance, technique, strength, and intelligence to be a key cog in front of Garoppolo to build around.
Last Mock Pick: Derwin James S Florida St
<i> 2017 NFL Mock Draft Pick (as of 8/22): Deshaun Watson, QB </i>
The 49ers could use a No. 1 receiver for their offense and whoever ends up being their new quarterback to replace Blaine Gabbert. <br> <br>
Ridley (6-1, 188) had a tremendous freshman season for the Crimson Tide as their No. 1 receiver. As a replacement for Amari Cooper, Ridley was very effective with 89 receptions for 1,045 yards with seven touchdowns. He finished the 2015 season with impressive performances against Florida and Michigan State to help push Alabama to the National Championship. Ridley has size, speed and a ton of upside for the NFL.