With their first pick in next week's draft, the San Francisco 49ers take ... Arik Armstead, defensive lineman from Oregon.
That's the scenario NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock on Thursday called “the logical pick.” Mayock noted that Justin Smith might retire and that the 49ers’ other veteran defensive lineman, newcomer Darnell Dockett, is 33 and coming off an ACL injury.
"He just turned 21," Mayock said of Armstead during a conference call. "His best football is ahead of him."
Armstead, who grew up in Sacramento, is one of approximately 30 players who had a formal visit with the 49ers earlier this month. The 49ers have had such visits with every first-round draft pick but one -- safety Eric Reid -- in the five drafts run by general manager Trent Baalke.
At 6-7, 292 pounds, Armstead (Pleasant Grove High) is one of the most imposing figures in the draft, and there is a sense that the junior only will get bigger -- and better -- with time. Armstead played basketball and football his first two seasons at Oregon. Last year, he focused solely on football, starting 13 games on the defensive line and finishing with 16 quarterback hurries and 2 1/2 sacks.
The last time the 49ers chose a defensive lineman in Round 1 was in 2008 when they selected Kentwan Balmer. He's considered one of the team's biggest draft busts in the last decade.
Mayock thought the 49ers might take an inside linebacker in the second round and perhaps a wide receiver in round three if they don't go with that position sooner.
The team lost two inside linebackers, Patrick Willis and Chris Borland, to retirement in March. When the 49ers are on the clock at pick No. 46, there might any of five good linebackers available, Mayock said: TCU's Paul Dawson, Clemson's Stephone Anthony, UCLA's Eric Kendricks, Miami's Denzel Perryman and Mississippi State's Benardrick McKinney.
The 49ers have spent time with all of them and had a formal visit with Dawson, who has some character concerns.
"Which one of those guys are available, and which one of those guys fits what you do?" Mayock asked.
The 49ers also have met with a number of wide receivers, including Louisville's DeVante Parker, Oklahoma's Dorial Green-Beckham and Ohio State's Devin Smith.
Green-Beckham is one of the most physically gifted pass catchers in the draft, but he has a long list of character concerns, including two marijuana-related arrests and an incident in which he was accused in a police report of breaking in a door and shoving a woman down some steps. He never was arrested in that case.
“We’ve done our homework like we do with every player in this draft,” Baalke said when asked about Green-Beckham this month. “... Every situation’s different. You look at it for what it is and you dig into it as much as you can. And that’s all we can do in this business.”
Another player with character concerns who visited the 49ers is cornerback Marcus Peters, who is from Oakland. He was kicked off Washington's team last season after run-ins with his coaching staff. Mayock suggested Peters' behavior would cause him to drop perhaps half a round lower than his talent alone warrants.
"Peters is as good a press corner as there is in the class...," Mayock said. "He's quick, plays with an edge, he tackles. He's a freaky, good-looking corner that, if he was clean off the field, would be probably be a Top 15, 18 pick in any class."
"Now you add in the question of whether there are character concerns, whether he can take authority, his relationship with his coaches," he continued. "I think what that does is it just throws a cloud over it a little bit and pushes him toward the bottom of the first round. I think he's going to go between 20 and 32, and I'd be really surprised if he slid out of (round) 1."
Read Matt Barrows’ blogs and archives at sacbee.com/sf49ers