Note: For the sake of the exercise this is a mock draft done without trades and using the First-Pick.com mock draft simulator.
1st round – pick #2: Marshon Lattimore – CB, Ohio State
Analysis: The 49ers are in a strange position at #2 not having a consensus player to take at this spot and having no clear cut #1 QB in this class. I gave serious consideration to taking Stanford DL Solomon Thomas at this spot, who I believe is a top-7 player in this draft but there has been no indication yet that the organization views Thomas as an EDGE player going forward. Lattimore in my eyes is the best CB in this class and has the potential to be a #1 CB in the league. He has a great combination of speed, explosiveness, instincts and adequate size at the position. His 40-yard dash, broad jump and vertical jump all ranked him among the best in this class and showcased the type of speed, athleticism and explosiveness that will be needed to succeed in the NFL. His versatility would work really well in the cover 1/3 scheme that new defensive coordinator Robert Saleh will run with the 49ers. General Manager John Lynch indicated that Jimmie Ward will be transition from being a boundary CB to being a single high FS making it a priority that they address the CB early in this draft. Longtime starting CB Tramaine Brock is a free agent after the 2017 season and there are no assurances that he will even be on the roster this season. The group former GM Trent Baalke has accumulated does not match the potential of Lattimore, who could pair with second-year CB Rashard Robinson to form of one of the better young CB duos in the NFL. He has aspects of his game to clean up, such as his predilection to grab WRs and allowing WRs to gain inside leverage on him but those are issues that can be minimized but what cannot be minimized is his skillset and athleticism.
2nd round – pick #34: Evan Engram – TE, Mississippi
Analysis: GM John Lynch and HC Kyle Shanahan did a more than adequate job in Free Agency to address the serious issues they had at the skillset positions with players that could come in and immediately contribute or fill a role in Kyle Shanahan’s offense. But with that being said there are still no explosive play makers on the roster that look to be long term fixtures. Engram is the third-best TE in a class that is as deep and talented as there ever has been. His best attributes are his speed, athleticism and route running. There is a nuance to his game that will make him an easy target for newly-signed QB Brian Hoyer and eventually the long term answer at the QB position. His game would really complement Vance McDonald and Logan Paulsen and give Shanahan a solid trio of TEs to work with and be a critical aspect of the passing game. The comp that many have assigned to Engram is Pro Bowl TE Jordan Reed, someone that Shanahan is very familiar with since he was on the coaching staff in Washington that drafted him in 2013. There is a stigma attached to Engram that he is not physical enough and not willing to take the “big hit” but looking at how willing a blocker he was in the Texas A&M game and had to block consensus #1 overall pick Myles Garrett should dispel some of those concerns.
3rd round – pick # 66: Nathan Peterman – QB, Pittsburg
Analysis: It’s obvious that the signings of Brian Hoyer and Matt Barkley were meant to stabilize the position in the short term and help to mentor and develop a young QB or keep the position warm for a potential Free Agent in 2018, Kirk Cousins or Jimmy Garoppolo. Even if they intent to address the position in 2018 they need to draft at least one QB in this year’s class and in Nathan Peterman they find a QB that fits the prototype that Kyle Shanahan looks for in a QB. The strength of Peterman’s game in his work in the pocket and ability to read and react to what he sees on the field. Has a natural feel within the pocket and is able to evade pressure and reset very efficiently. After two lackluster years at Tennessee, he transferred to Pitt and has thrived in the offense ran by offensive coordinators Jim Chaney and Matt Canada. While not being the best athlete at the position he has definitely shown the ability to operate out of the pocket and throw on the run. A knock on Peterman is his average arm strength but given that he completed 46.2% of his deep throws it shows that he more than makes up for it with touch and placement. Like every young QB coming into the NFL he battles with consistency issues and over eagerness but in the right structure and with the right coaches Peterman has starter level potential and would give the 49ers a young, talented QB that could start down the line or be one of the better backups in the NFL.
4th round – pick #109: Carroll Phillips – OLB/DE, Illinois
Analysis: It’s clear that the team has a major deficiency at their EDGE positons. Aaron Lynch while very talented has been inconsistent at best, Ahmad Brooks is on the downside of his career and is in the last year of his contract and Tank Carradine and Eli Harold have done little in their careers to proof their worth. While it has taken until the 4th address to address the position Phillips is a prospect in another year would have gone a round or 2 earlier. Phillips’ 40-yard dash, broad jump and 3-Cone drill scores all ranked in the top ¼ of this year’s loaded EDGE class. His speed and initial burst off the edge would be great compliment to the DL group that has been built the last few seasons. Phillips is a raw prospect who primarily relies on his physical attributes and has to do significant work on his technique and hand usage. Early in his career Phillips should be primarily a situational pass rusher and not be counted on to do much in run defense. But he has the skillset and potential to develop into the long term LEO that this team will be looking for.
4th round – pick #143 (Comp): Dalvin Tomlinson – NT/DT, Alabama
Analysis: It is clear given how the first wave of free agency played out that the 49ers are looking to pair someone with newly signed DT Earl Mitchell to have a rotation at the NT/DT positon. While they seemingly struck out in the free agency market they are able to hit the jack pot with one of the best run defenders in this year’s class. Tomlinson continues the long line of Alabama DL that come into the NFL and contribute to the success of run defenses. While Tomlinson will not offer much in terms of an interior pass rush on base downs he can be a disruptive force in the way he can absorb and shed double teams. There is more nuance to his game, as he is one of the more technically sound run defenders in this class and does not strictly rely on power and strength. He would more be than compliment to the skillsets of DeForest Buckner and Arik Armstead and he would free them up to believe the disruptive forces that they have the potential to be. He is strictly a base down defender, which is the reason while he slid down to this spot in this draft but given what he could do for the 49ers run defense he would in time be considered one of the steals of this year’s draft.
5th round – pick #146: Rasul Douglas – CB, West Virginia
Analysis: This is CB class that is too good not to double dip from and look to address the position long term. Like I mentioned earlier when I selected Lattimore that Brock is on the year of his deal and his status is tenuous at best as are Reaser’s and Johnson’s. Redmond and Williams are strictly slot CBs and do not offer much on the perimeter. Douglas offers the type of physical attributes that would work really well in the cover 3 scheme. At 6’2, over 200 lbs. and 32 3/8” arms he has the size to help match up with teams that have multiple big bodied WRs and TEs. He would be at a disadvantage against smaller, more agile WRs but doubt very much teams, including the 49ers would ever employ him in those scenarios.
5th round – pick #161 (Derek Carrier trade): TJ Logan RB, North Carolina
Analysis: I almost took a RB earlier in this mock draft but I held off on doing so when I researched the long history that Kyle Shanahan and RB coach Bobby Turner have of turning mid to late round RBs into very productive and effective offensive players. Logan is a true Change of Pace RB that could fill a variety of roles for the 49ers. Whether it’s as a runner, receiver and returner he could be really productive as a counter balance to Carlos Hyde and OW (Offensive Weapon) Kyle Juszczyk. Even though he shared the backfield with fellow draft prospect Elijah Hood he accumulated over 1,000 all purpose yards and 6 total TDs in 2015 and over 1,500 all purpose yards and 12 TDs in 2016. He also showed himself to be a very consistent receiver as he only dropped 1 pass in his 3 years at UNC. His performance at the Combine backed up his tape on the field and showcased his speed and short area quickness. Needs to improve his decision making and technique but those are definitely an issue that a coach who is as well regarded as Bobby Turner can help him with.
6th round – pick 198 (Jeremy Zuttah trade): Joshua Dobbs QB, Tennessee
Analysis: QB again? Yes, okay follow me here before you completely write off this mock draft as terrible (If you haven’t already). Teams generally carry 4 or more QBs into training camp and with Peterman and Dobbs Shanahan has 2 talented young prospects to develop for the long term or to flip in a trade for a future pick. Dobbs is the type of raw QB prospect that a coach like Shanahan could get the best out of. One of the best deep ball throwers in the class (47.7 completion percentage and 14 TDs) he has the ability to create explosive plays. He also provides plenty out of the pocket as he has amassed over 2,000 yards and 31 TDs on the ground. Known for his intelligence (He was an aerospace engineering major at the University of Tennessee) the depth and intricate nature of Shanahan’s offense will not be too much for him to handle. Like most raw QB prospects, consistency with his footwork and throwing motion are issues that will need to be addressed and will be the reason why it will take at least 2 seasons before he should see the field.
6th round - pick 202 (Vernon Davis trade): Joe Mathis DE, Washington
Analysis: Injuries derailed what could have been a showcase year for Joe Mathis in the loaded Huskies defense. Before the 2016 began Mathis was on his way to being an early round pick in a loaded EDGE class. One of the more well rounded EDGE in the class, he has shown to be a capable run defender to go along with his capacity to rush the passer. Mathis has been complimented for his maturity and that is on display on the field. He is rarely off balanced and out of place, he is able to maintain his balance after his initial burst. Mathis is one of the more technically sound EDGEs in the class due to his hands and how he is able to combat offensive linemen. The only reason he is here is due to his injury history and his compact frame that limit what teams will look at him. He has the potential to be a starter in the NFL if he overcomes the injuries that has hindered his development.
7th round – pick 219 (Andy Lee trade): Elijah McGuire RB, Louisiana- Lafayette
Analysis: McGuire is a small school RB that is not considered to be ready to contribute next season has the developmental traits that could in time be a solid contributor. Relying more on his athleticism than his instincts he has a lot of wasted movement attempting to shed defenders and rarely will he absorb contact without being taken off course. He needs a clear open lane to succeed, as he has nice acceleration through the hole. The most refined aspect of his game is as a receiver, as he has shown the ability to be a productive pass catcher. He will have to spend a year on the practice squad, where he can work to refine his game but has the capacity to be a solid backup in the NFL that ask its RBs to be multi-faceted.