SANTA CLARA -- The first notation when watching the Senior Bowl, which kicks off at 11:30 a.m. PST on NFL Network: There's only a small chance the 49ers will draft any of these players with the seventh pick.
As is usually the case, the top picks in the draft are juniors. Two exceptions are quarterback Carson Wentz, who is one of four quarterbacks on the North squad, and edge pass rusher Noah Spence of Eastern Kentucky (more on him later). Wentz is the top quarterback at the Senior Bowl and may end up being the first quarterback selected despite playing for Division I-FCS-level North Dakota State and despite missing half his senior season with a wrist injury.
The Cowboys have coached Wentz (6-5, 233 pounds, 10-inch hands) all week, and the chatter is that they could take him with the fourth overall pick. Or the Browns could grab Wentz with the second overall pick. Or, after underclassmen like Jared Goff and Paxton Lynch enter the mix at next month's combine, the hype about Wentz will die down a bit.
One Senior Bowl player who seems tailor-made for the 49ers: tackle Jason Spriggs out of Indiana. Like Joe Staley, Spriggs is a one-time tight end who became a tackle in college. As such, he has nice athleticism and can get out ahead of a play, something that would seem to mesh well with a Chip Kelly-led offense. One more attribute: Spriggs' arms measure more than 34 inches, which means he passes the Trent Baalke test.
Spriggs is a prototypical left tackle, begging the question: Do the 49ers need a left tackle? One day after Spriggs plays in the Senior Bowl, Staley will play in the Pro Bowl. He's signed through the 2019 seasons. Spriggs is projected to be taken at any point from the end of the first round on.
Spence is the top pass rusher at the Senior Bowl, but there are reasons to believe the 49ers will let him sail on past the seventh overall pick. The first is Spence's past. He started at Ohio State but was suspended indefinitely by the Big 10 after reportedly failing two drug tests. He transferred to Eastern Kentucky where he has been trouble free. Still, given his background-- and the tribulations of the last player Baalke took with the seventh pick, Aldon Smith -- it's hard to envision the 49ers grabbing Spence, at least at that spot.
Spence also does not quite fit the profile of Baalke's outside linebackers, all of whom have been at least 6-3 with long, long arms. Spence measured in at 6-2 with 32-inch arms. The outside linebacker who would make Baalke's head spin if somehow he fell to pick No. 7 is another Ohio State product, Joey Bosa, who is a junior. Bosa is listed at 6-5. His arms will be measured next month.
The deepest position in the draft may be defensive line, especially interior defensive linemen. Notre Dame's Sheldon Day and Alabama's Jarran Reed will play Saturday, and both received a lot of accolades in the Senior Bowl practices. Both are on the short side and seem to fit the profile of the team's nose tackles. Oregon defensive lineman DeForest Buckner is a senior, he is expected to be taken early in the first round and he fits the mold of a 49ers defensive lineman. But he is not attending the Senior Bowl.
The last time the 49ers drafted a player out of San Jose State was 1991 when they took running back Sheldon Canley in the seventh round. Maybe another running back, Tyler Ervin, could break that dry spell. Ervin has exceptional burst and would appear to be a nice fit in Kelly's offense. Ervin rushed for 1,601 yards this past season, including for 300 yards against Fresno State and 160 yards vs. Auburn in back-to-back games. One caveat: Most rookies struggle in pass protection. Ervin may be even worse than most rookies in that area.
The 49ers have a good starting center in Daniel Kilgore. One lesson from the last two seasons, however: They could use a backup center. There are a couple of good ones in the Senior Bowl: Nick Martin from Notre Dame and Graham Glasgow from Michigan.