With the NFL draft just over a week away the intensity is beginning to pile up, and teams are feeling the pressure. The 49ers are fortunate enough to have two 1st round draft picks, which will be the focus of our discussion today.
The 1st of their 2 picks comes at #13, where they should look to sure up their defensive unit. Defensive back is a need, and at this spot it is likely the most talented corner in the class, Joe Haden, will be available. Haden would be a great addition, and sured up questions about his speed by running in the 4.4 range at the Florida Pro Day. He looks great on film, consistently shutting down opposing teams’ top receivers, and has prototypical height, weight, and speed.
Derrick Morgan could also be available, and he would be a great value as well. The DE out of Georgia Tech was named the ACC Defensive POY by totaling 18.5 TFL and 12.5 sacks. He has a strong work ethic off the field, and is a very mature player. He is stout versus the run, and can get to the passer. He is a great talent, and will certainly be a consideration in the San Francisco War Room at #13.
There are several other defensive players who could be around at #13 and should get some consideration from the 49ers, including: ILB Rolando McClain (think of what a tandem he and Patty Lewis would be), DE Jason Pierre-Paul (a raw pass rusher with tremendous upside), and Sergio Kindle (a do-it-all OLB out of Texas). In fact, I am very high on McClain. He is a fiery leader, a ferocious hitter, and a freakin beast of a linebacker. He was the quarterback of his defense at Alabama, constantly getting his teammates into the correct position and switching up plays on the field. You might think I’m crazy when I say this, but I truly believe he is the second coming of Ray Lewis.
If they choose to go offense with this pick, I like C.J. Spiller. He would be a great complement for Frank Gore and Glen Coffee. He is a scat back with blazing speed, who can be a TD threat every time he touches the ball. He also will provide help in the return game, as he is dynamic there as well. However, he might not be available as he is widely considered a top-10 talent.
The 9ers second 1st round pick comes at #17 (which they acquired from Carolina for last year’s 2nd and 4th rounders). Here, I believe they should address the offensive side of the ball. An interesting player, Dez Bryant, has seen his stock fall recently because of off-field issues. And with Miami trading for Brandon Marshall, Bryant looks like he could fall pretty far and it is not out of the question to assume he will be here at #17. I think this would be a steal for the 9ers, as Bryant is a top-10 talent and a great deep threat to pair alongside Crabtree (who I always believed was more of a #2). And don’t forget, Mike Singletary will be there to keep Dez out of trouble and in-shape (remember Vernon Davis?).
However, WR is not their most immediate need, which would be the only thing that holds them back from this decision. RT is a pressing need, and will be addressed in the draft, we just don’t know where. I think it would be wiser to spend a 2nd round pick on an OT because we are not looking for that elite LT, we are looking for a competent RT. We already have Joe Staeley doing a solid job on the left side. Whatever the case, the most probably offensive lineman available are Mike Iupati, and Anthony Davis. Davis is a kid with great upside, who has a chance to be a pro bowl left tackle. Iupati is a mauler at guard, but will most likely be moved to RT wherever he is drafted. Either pick will definitely fill a dire need for the niners and will bring an opening day starter.
If they’re thinking defense at #17, I like Brandon Graham out of Michigan or Kyle Wilson from Boise St. Graham is a great OLB who led the NCAA in TFL. The only question is his size, as he is a mere 6 foot 1. Wilson is a playmaking corner from Boise who has elite fluidity and can help as a punt returner. He also has the strength to dominate in press coverage. Wilson, though, is only 5-9, but that is not as big a concern as Graham’s height. Either player would be a great addition with playmaking ability to match his skills.
There is also always the possibility of trading up or down. I doubt the 9ers will trade up in the draft, but it is a possibility that they trade their 17th overall pick to a later spot in the 1st round, and pick up additional picks. If they trade down into the late 20′s, I like Sean Weatherspoon and Jerry Hughes. Weatherspoon is a tackle machine, who can play ILB or OLB. Hughes is an elite pass rusher who led the FBS with 15 sacks in ’08. He has an excellent combination of speed and agility, and will be a consistent threat on 3rd downs. His only questions are about his size, as he is only 6-1.
The Niners are going to get a lot of good talent this year, and it should be an exciting season in which they look to capture the NFC West and their 1st playoff bid since 2002.
About the Author
Written by Adam Manaa