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The NFL Draft is 11 days away. It will be conducted completely virtually, which means there is a guarantee of technical difficulties. It should be hilariously odd. But it’s still a draft, and while getting trades done might be a bit trickier, teams won’t shy away from them. The 49ers are in desperate need of at least one trade down and should realistically look to trade down twice. That’s what they do in this mock.
Trade with Miami Dolphins
49ers get: Round 1 – Pick 18, Round 2 – Pick 51, Round 4 – Pick 141
Dolphins get: Round 1 – Pick 13: Mekhi Becton, T, Louisville
The Dolphins get to jump up to get the last member of the supposed elite four tackles on the board to protect their newly minted QB. Javon Kinlaw is a popular pick for the 49ers here, but replacing Buckner one-for-one with an admittedly unpolished, but physically dominant defensive lineman doesn’t seem prudent. They can maximize the value here at a spot where I think Lamb, Jeudy and Ruggs could all be off the board despite what most mocks say.
Round 1, Pick 18: Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU (acquired in trade with Dolphins)
Former LSU wide receiver Justin Jefferson is a phenomenal contested pass catcher, hauling in the highest percentage of contested passes in college football. Should be a sure-fire first rounder. pic.twitter.com/M1xhJRF4K2
— Jared Barsness NFL (@JaredBarsNFL) April 11, 2020
Jefferson is a better prospect than Henry Ruggs in my opinion, because of his frame and on-field dominance. There is some threat of the Broncos grabbing Jefferson at 15, but they seem to be in need of someone more like Jalen Reagor. Ruggs has injury and press coverage concerns (to be clear, he’s a tremendous prospect, but Jefferson has less downside) and I think all three of CeeDee Lamb, Ruggs and Jerry Jeudy will be gone by pick No. 13.
Along with JaMarr Chase, Jefferson was one of Joe Burrow’s favorite targets at LSU and met with the 49ers at the combine. He displayed far better speed than most were expecting, and all-around elite athleticism. His production in his junior season is unmatched (111 receptions, 1,540 yards, 18 TD), and he provides much of what Emmanuel Sanders could do with a larger frame. He’s a just-makes-catches guy: someone who continually, somehow, finds himself open. Always bet on those players.
Trade with Houston Texans
49ers get: Round 2 – Pick 40, Round 3 – Pick 90, Round 4, 2021
Texans get: Round 1 – Pick 31: Neville Gallimore, DT, Oklahoma
Is this an overpay on the Texans’ part? Yes. But Bill O’Brien is the team’s general manager. The conversation on whether a move is prudent or reasonable ends there. He sees a nose tackle man-mover in Neville Gallimore, one of few positions where the Texans need serious help, and where there is limited, elite talent in this draft. This nets the 49ers a pick in the third round, and a fourth-round pick in 2021.
Round 2, Pick 40: Lloyd Cushenberry, C/G, LSU (acquired in trade with Texans)
LSU center Lloyd Cushenberry had a really good practice yesterday. His hands are always in tight. One of the few wins for anyone vs Javon Kinlaw. pic.twitter.com/uPnPEhex2Y
— Daniel Jeremiah (@MoveTheSticks) January 22, 2020
Two LSU men with the 49ers’ first two picks? It’s never a bad thing to draw talent from the best team in the country. Some folks have Cushenberry as far back as the third round, which seems absurd. He wore No. 18 for LSU, a prestigious honor given to the player that best represents what it means to be an LSU football player, and was an absolute tour de force throughout the team’s title-winning season and in the Senior Bowl, where he stuffed Javon Kinlaw in one-on-ones. As one source described Cushenberry to me at the NFL Combine, he’s “athletic as shit.” He can start for the 49ers at guard for a year or two, and eventually become the team’s long-term center option after Weston Richburg and his bloated contract depart. Linemen aren’t typically viewed as offensive weapons, but Cushenberry is.
Round 2, Pick 51: Bryce Hall, CB, Virginia (acquired in trade with Dolphins)
Looking at Daniel Jones' game against Virginia but continually seeing CB Bryce Hall make plays. Shame he went back to school. Looks like a superstar and has great production. pic.twitter.com/CUqYqJm9vD
— Ian Wharton (@NFLFilmStudy) January 23, 2019
This is 17 spots higher than I had Hall in my last mock draft, but that was projecting something of a fall for him, though pick 68 is about where most people are mocking him to land. Noah Igbinoghene and Trevon Diggs are other candidate here, but the Hall has far better size and a proven track record than both, and in a Tampa-2 scheme at Virginia which would allow him to fit into the 49ers’ defense seamlessly. He has the technical and athletic ability (footwork, hip-flipping quickness, aggressive hands and ball-tracking) to make for an elite corner, with much of his criticism coming from a lack of elite speed and man-to-man ability (remember Richard Sherman?). The main reason he’s not talked about as a first-round candidate is because of a season-ending ankle injury. He was viewed as a first-round prospect heading into last season, and teams like the 49ers don’t make their selection based on our mock drafts.
Trade with Denver Broncos
49ers get: Round 3 – Pick 83
Broncos get: Round 3 – Pick 90: Logan Wilson, LB, Wyoming, Round 4, 2021 (49ers’ pick)
Trade fever? This time the 49ers use that pick from the Texans to move up seven spots. For a defensive tackle, perhaps?
Round 3, Pick 83: Adam Trautman, TE, Dayton (acquired in trade with Broncos)
Nope. A tight end. In my view, the defensive line options in this draft are extraordinarily top-heavy, and it’s smarter to wait for later on Day 3 than to convince yourself a mid-round prospect is better than he is. Instead, Kyle Shanahan pursues his attempt to recreate the Patriots’ Gronkowski-Hernandez setup with Trautman, who is an athletic freak and tremendous receiving target. He has elite wiggle, and natural space-finding ability in zones like every great tight end. His 4.80-second 40-yard dash time undersells how fast he is in the open field. The biggest knocks on him are the fact that he played at Dayton, an FCS school, against much weaker competition, and he needs to get much stronger and technically sound as a blocker. The thing I look for with tight ends who aren’t great blocker is effort. Do they give effort? If so, I generally tend to believe they can become solid blockers. George Kittle was the inverse of that, but both ways have been proven to work. And that’s not to say Trautman is a poor blocker, but he’ll need to improve. With Kittle and tight end coach Jon Embree, that’s going to happen, and his receiving upside greatly outweighs the blocking concerns.
Round 4, Pick 141: Joe Bachie, LB, Michigan State (acquired in trade with Dolphins)
— Big Ten Network (@BigTenNetwork) November 5, 2018
Bachie is a technically-sound, reliable linebacker, who cuts down run plays with startling efficiency. The main questions are over his range as a coverage linebacker and his athleticism. He put doubts over that athleticism to shame at the NFL Combine, showing up in all areas but the 20-yard shuttle (3-cone is a more important drill, showcasing lateral agility and hip-flipping ability). He was also suspended on October 31 for a failed drug test, but had great college production outside of that (72 tackles, 9.5 for loss, 3.5 sacks, 1 INT, 4 PBU in eight-game senior season).
Round 5, Pick 157: James Morgan, QB, Florida International University
The Patriots had a pre-draft phone call with FIU’s QB James Morgan this week.
I can see the Patriots drafting him with one of their three 3rd round picks and letting him battle for the starting job w/ Stidham. Strong arm, smart, able to move the pocket pic.twitter.com/V4G8C90kQR
— Jordan Moore (@iJordanMoore) April 8, 2020
A quarterback before a defensive tackle, yes. The 49ers have shot down every Nick Mullens trade proposal, but interviewed projected undrafted quarterback Mason Fine out of North Texas. To me, that screams that the 49ers are looking for someone to replace C.J. Beathard and either be the next long-term backup and successor to Jimmy Garoppolo so the team can trade Mullens, or backup to Mullens, if he’s in the plans to replace Garoppolo. The 49ers reportedly shot down all offers for Mullens, which is smart, given that their other backup is C.J. Beathard, who has zero trade value and is not a competent quarterback.
Morgan, however, is. He’s got a laser of an arm, which sometimes comes with drawbacks when he goes downfield, coupled with some questionable second-level decision-making, but has also resulted in the spectacular. I believe he’ll be one of the best quarterbacks in the draft based on his ability to read the field, move out of the pocket if necessary and nail intermediate-range throws. I had the opportunity to see him in person at the NFL Combine, and, granted in a terrible second group of quarterbacks, he looked better than everyone else, with Jordan Love the only other competitor. His main concerns are his regression in his senior season (2,585 yards, 58.0 completion percentage, 14 TD, 5 INT) after a stellar junior year (2,727 yards, 65.3 completion percentage, 26 TD, 7 INT), which is why he’s available here.
Trade with Buffalo Bills
49ers get: Round 6 – Pick 189, Round 6 – Pick 202, Round 7 – Pick 239
Bills get: Round 5 – Pick 177, Round 6 – Pick 217, Round 7 – Pick 245
The fourth and final trade of the day sees the 49ers close off a 23-pick gap from Round 5 to Round 6, in order to make two picks in quicker succession in Round 6. It lets the Bills move up 12 spots to the end of Round 5, drop 15 spots in Round 6, and six spots at the end of Round 7.
Round 6, Pick 189: Broderick Washington, DT, Texas Tech
#49ers will need to think about Day 3 DL in the draft and I posted Lynch yesterday but today another possible DT to look at is Broderick Washington (Texas Tech, 6’ 3”, 305 lbs). Plugged in at the Senior Bowl in short notice & did well…. pic.twitter.com/MyuIDbBW5g
— 49er_Edits (@49er_edits) March 26, 2020
Finally, a defensive tackle. Washington needs to develop other moves, but he clogs up space and has the propensity to blow up the line of scrimmage with his sheer force. As described by The Athletic’s Dane Brugler, he’s “a nasty, tough-minded trench player who never shuts it down and competes with power.” He was a team captain at Texas Tech in his last two seasons and an All Big-12 Honorable Mention in all but his freshman season. He has a little D.J. Jones to him, who also wasn’t elite at the bench press (25 reps vs. Washington’s 23), and can play as 3-tech or as a nose.
Round 6, Pick 202: Dalton Keene, TE/FB, Virginia Tech
Keene might be my favorite prospect in this draft, and Kyle Juszczyk’s future replacement. He has fantastic athleticism, and would provide an immediate blocking presence whereas Trautman might take some time. He’s an all-around offensive weapon, and there’s no harm in acquiring many of those. Here’s our breakdown of Keene from the KNBR tight end prospect roundup:
49ers fit: If Keene stayed another year and splits out to tight end, he might have found himself in contention for the first three rounds. He’s that good. How he’s mocked to go undrafted is beyond me. Arguably the best blocking tight end in the draft, especially as a zone run fit, with tremendous physical talents and versatility, having spent his career as an H-back (hence the lack of college production), he could theoretically be Kyle Juszczyk’s replacement at fullback, and clearly has the capabilities to be the No. 2 name in the tight end room. His yards-after-catch ability and Combine stats are very Kittle-ey. Also grew up in Littleton, Colorado, outside of Denver — run game coordinator Mike McDaniel grew up in Aurora, another Denver suburb.
Round 6, Pick 210: Tyler Clark, DT
This drop from the previous mock is due to the fact that Clark was not invited to the NFL Combine and was not able to participate in a Pro Day. I’m just as high on Clark as I was then:
Who had the No. 1 rushing defense in the country last season? Georgia, at 74.6 rushing yards allowed per game. Their interior defensive lineman, Tyler Clark, was a massive part of that, but wasn’t invited to the Combine. He also didn’t get the chance to have a Pro Day, so, despite his film, his stock probably held steady or fell due to the lack of face time and hype he drew. The thing is though, his tape is tremendous. He almost never loses position, and consistently drives back interior linemen in one-on-one situations. For an interior defensive linemen, he’s agile and knows how to use his leverage to shed blockers, which makes him especially dynamic on run downs. His motor is relentless, and he brings a potent swim move to the table. Keeps a nice, low base. Biggest criticism is that he didn’t improve much after his sophomore season and can sometimes be too patient in pass-rushing downs.
Round 7, Pick 239: Daniel Thomas, SS, Auburn
First play of the game and Auburn safety, Daniel Thomas, is clearly ready to go. Sheeesh 🔥 pic.twitter.com/UZVHG8giJB
— Russell Brown (@RussNFLDraft) September 4, 2018
The 49ers have been sniffing around for a backup to Jaquiski Tartt and seem to draft a strong safety in the sixth or seventh round almost every year (Marcell Harris, 6th round, 2018, Adrian Colbert, 7th round, 2017). Thomas is one of the handful of safety prospects the 49ers have interviewed thus far. His tape leaves a ton of question marks, but at this point in the draft, you have to take high-upside swings (with a lot of misses). Despite his height, Thomas has all the high-upside measurables, including a 125″ broad jump, which is one figure the 49ers seem to love. He projects to be effective on special teams. Is rangey, but like every strong safety the 49ers draft in late rounds, he looks lost in coverage frequently.