IrishDawg's 3rd Collaborative Mock Draft has just wrapped up for 2011. Special "Thanks" to Irishdawg for taking the time to put this together. Once again, I represented the 49ers. For the last 3 years, I have taken this opportunity as a role playing exercise to hypothesize who the 49ers will select in the upcoming drafts. Here was the strategy for this year's draft.
The 49ers primary needs are QB, Rush OLB, NT, CB, FB. Secondary needs were RB, G, WR, K.
QB - GM Trent Baalke already indicated that he wil lean heavily on HC Jim Harbaugh for QB guidance. It's hard to geta read on a first year HC, but there was a lot of media making its way around locally which led me to believe that Harbaugh was going to apply some Bill Walsh principles to his draft selections. This impacted my decision to pass on Blaine Gabbert in round 1.
The rest of the draft is run by Baalke. There isn't much difference between what Baalke did last year and what he will do this year. He will draft physical players based on tape. Size does matter, but smaller players aren't entirely excluded.
The 49ers will be moving to a run heavy, WCO under Jim Harbaugh, a 3-4 ZBS under Vic Fangio.
1st rd, #7) Robert Quinn, OLB, North Carolina - 1st team all-ACC 2009, Quinn is a standout DE at North Carolina. The general consensus is that he may be the best "pure" pass rusher in the draft. Pass rush is one of the 49ers top needs. Quinn had one good year in college before he was suspended. I believe Quinn's character checks out. The bigger question is if he can make the transition to 3-4 OLB. Quinn has great measurables to go along with good tape. My feeling is that there will be a little bit of a learning curve, but he can ultimately make the transition. I feel the 49ers are high on him as well. Baalke admitted that many successful NFL 3-4 OLB's are converted college DE's. Quinn is no exception.
2nd rd, #45) Colin Kaepernick, QB, Nevada - WAC Offensive Player of the Year in 2010 & 2008, only player in college football to rush for 4,000+ yards and pass for 9,000+ yards in a career. Kaepernick's college resume is outstanding. However, as with any 2nd round QB, he has question marks. Some think that Kaepernick may be overdrafted here. I feel the QB is the most overdrafted position period. Based on what I've been reading about the 49ers, I feel that this pick could either be Kaepernick, Dalton, Stanzi or Ponder. All of these QB's have a degree of athleticism and intelligence that Harbaugh would favor. None of these QB's are wildly inaccurate either. Kaepernick's accuracy will be questioned, however I chose to look at his improvement between his Jr and Sr years.
3rd rd, #76) Johnny Patrick, CB, Louisville - Big East 1st Team selection 2010. There is popular belief that Patrick Peterson will be the pick at #7. In this mock. Peterson is gone by then. And this could very well be the case on draft day as well. I chose Patrick, not necessarily for his upside in man coverage, but his ability in zone coverage which may suit the 49ers new ZBS better. I was also specifically looking at CB's who logged INT's last year.
4th rd, #108) Kendall Hunter, RB, Oklahoma St - 2 time All American, runner up for Big 12 Offensive Player of the year award. Finished college with 4,181 yards and 37 rushing TD's. The 49ers are looking for a RB to spell Gore and provide a change of pace. Brian Westbrook was a solid back up last year. Hunter reminds me of Westbrook. I thought Hunter would've been drafted by this spot, so I was pleasantly surprised that I was able to make this pick. Hunter doesn't have size to his advantage, but he is a "special" player and that is the exception Baalke would be looking for.
4th rd, #115) Ricky Stanzi, QB, Iowa - 26-9 as starter, steps up in big games. OK...I doubt the 49ers would take a QB in the 2nd round and then another in the 4th. However, I do believe that it's possible they will take two QB's, just further apart. Stanzi was the best player here. I think he's capable of going in the 3rd round. So like Hunter, I was a little overzealous when making this pick. I see Stanzi as a similar prospect to Dalton. Neither has the booming arm. I do believe if the 49ers do not land a QB in the 2nd round, then Stanzi has a good shot of being drafted by the 49ers in the 3rd.
5th rd, #141) Rashad Carmichael, CB, Virginia Tech - Here's another value pick that fits a need. Like Patrick, Rashad excels in zone coverage and may fit the scheme well. The knock on Carmichael is that he isn't very physical, but he's a ballhawks and one of my favorite players in this year's draft.
6th rd, #174) Andrew Jackson, G, Fresno St - 1st team all WAC in 2009. Hobbled by injuries in 2010. Jackson isn't a prototypical Guard by any means, but he does have some quickness which may translate well to a WCO-type zone-blocking scheme. He's a physical player that Harbaugh will like and can challenge Rachal with proper coaching.
6th rd, #190) Anthony Sherman, FB, Connecticut - There are more than a handful of quality FB's in the draft. However, there isn't a great necessity meaning that you could wait until the 6th or 7th round and grab a good FB. I chose to draft one here and come away with one of the better FB's in this year's draft. Sherman is a solid blocker, has decent receiving skills and is a special teams demon. He will fit the WCO quite nicely.
7th rd, #211) Marc Schiechl, OLB, Colorado School of Mines - There were two players I was looking at here, Schiechl...and Steven Friday. Like Quinn, both are college DE's who have to transition to OLB. Friday had a good year at VT, however I looked at what Schiechl did over his career (All time DII sacks leader with 46) and feel that there may be another James Harrison here.
7th rd, #233) Raymond Webber, WR, Arkansas Pinie-Bluff - Caught 101 balls as a SR for 1,429 yards. 49ers need more WR's with size and Webber gives them that (6'2", 218 lbs.).
7th rd, #241) Kris Durham, WR, Georgia - Durham has size (6'5", 214 lbs) and would make him the tallest WR on the 49ers' roster. Durham played second fiddle (understandably) to A.J. Green. Durham fits the mold of a tall, red zone-type possession receiver.
7th rd, #252) Kai Forbath, K, UCLA - Smi-finalist for Lou Groza award, 2nd team all-PAC 10, .842 career percentage. 49ers current K is Joe Nedney. Nedney has been a steady, reliable K over the the years, but it's time to search for his replacement. There are several teams that brought Forbath in for visits leading me to believe he will be drafted.
The 49ers had 12 picks total. 9 of these picks were in the back half of the draft (4th or later). It's difficult to imagine finding starters late in the draft so the focus was on project players who could play certain roles...Hunter - 3rd/passing downs, Carmichael - Nickel and Dime, Sherman - passing downs and ST, Durham - red zone/3rd and short. There was an emphasis on need, but I only took players which I valued at certain spots. With the exception of QB, I believe that none of the other picks were "reaches".
Hopefully, there is enough contributions at various levels from the top down. There were a couple of things that I didn't do because the opportunities didn't present themselves. First, I didn't engage in any trades. I did not feel that there was enough popularity on Kaepernick or Dalton to make a move. I was able to stand pat on my picks. Second, I wasn't able to come away from this draft with a NT. I firmly believe that the 49ers would value a 2 down, NT later in the draft. However, in this exercise NT's went early.