John Lynch: Mock draft “exercises are invaluable”
The Senior Bowl has come and gone, and the Super Bowl this Sunday is all that’s left of football season. That means, of course, it’s time to focus on the NFL draft April 25.
Here, we’ve canvassed the web to see which prospects the scribes, pundits and so-called experts are projecting to the San Francisco 49ers with the No. 2 overall selection. Their takes are italicized, followed by our analysis:
CBS Sports (Ryan Wilson)
Nick Bosa, DE, Ohio State
Wilson: “This is the best-case scenario for the 49ers. Fans have been clamoring for Josh Allen here, since the assumption is that Bosa will go first overall. And after using first-round picks on defensive linemen in three of the last four drafts, adding Bosa at No. 2 almost feels like a steal.”
Chris Biderman: Indeed, Bosa is considered by many as the top prospect available who would fit perfectly as the “Leo” defensive end off the edge to bolster San Francisco’s lackluster pass rush. His 17.5 sacks and 29 tackles for loss in 29 games indicate he has a chance to be dominant at the next level, just like brother Joey. However, like Joey, Nick will have to answer questions about his durability. He missed the final 11 games of 2018 to have surgery to repair a core muscle injury. The 49ers are going to have an all-new training staff that might be put to the test right away if Bosa is the pick.
NFL.com (Lance Zierlein)
Rashan Gary, DE, Michigan
Zierlein: “Watching Allen come off the board at No. 1 is a curveball the 49ers will need to be prepared for. Ohio State’s Nick Bosa is a more polished and game-ready edge rusher than Gary, but San Francisco could opt for explosiveness over refinement.”
CB: Gary, a former five-star recruit, was more sizzle than steak for the Wolverines, with just 3.5 sacks and seven tackles for loss in 2018 while dealing with a shoulder injury. There’s no doubt about Gary’s athleticism, but some wonder if he’ll live up to expectations and produce at a level commensurate with his hype coming out of high school. Some also wonder about Gary’s motor and whether he’s best inside or on the edge. Gary comes with more risk than any other prospect mentioned here, but he also has considerable upside if he can match his production with his physical tools.
Sports Illustrated (Kalyn Kahler)
Quinnen Williams, DT, Alabama
Kahler: “To no one’s surprise, the redshirt sophomore declared for the NFL draft after the Crimson Tide lost to Clemson in the national championship. Williams had a breakout year in his first season as a full-time starter, proving himself against top-level competition in the SEC. Teams might question the 19-year-old’s maturity level, and one scout said teams just don’t know enough about his character to check off that box, but his play on the field is a sure thing. At 300 pounds, he can be a three-down player in any scheme.”
CB: San Francisco defensive coordinator Robert Saleh indicated to reporters at the Senior Bowl it’s unlikely San Francisco would add another “three technique” player with DeForest Buckner coming off a career-high 12 sacks. Williams was one of the best players in the country, but finding a fit with Buckner, Thomas and Arik Armstead (if he’s brought back) might be difficult while the team has more pressing needs. Taking Williams here would seem like a best-player-available approach, but that doesn’t necessarily make him the right selection, given the players already on the roster.
The Draft Network (Kyle Crabbs)
Josh Allen, DE/OLB, Kentucky
Crabbs: “The good news? The 49ers don’t need a quarterback (we think). The bad news? The 49ers don’t really need a defensive tackle, either. Josh Allen, on the other hand, can provide the outside rush presence that the 49ers are lacking. With DeForest Buckner and Arik Armstead in house, the 49ers are set in the middle. Solving the pass rush problems will come with speed of the edge.”
CB: Allen has become a popular pick at No. 2 in mock drafts. He’s a hyper-athletic outside linebacker/pass rusher hybrid who answered many questions with his production in 2018. He logged 17 sacks and 21.5 tackles for loss while leading Kentucky to a 10-3 record, including a Citrus Bowl victory over Penn State. Allen is also talented enough to drop into coverage, potentially against tight ends and running backs, making him a possible “Sam” linebacker in base downs who could put his hand in the dirt as a defensive end in passing situations. Allen could solidify himself as a top-three pick with a strong showing at the combine.
Draft Wire (Luke Easterling)
Nick Bosa, DE, Ohio State
Easterling: “This is a dream scenario for the 49ers, who get the best overall prospect in the draft, who also just happens to fill the team’s biggest need. Despite playing just a few games due to injury in 2018, Bosa is worthy of No. 1 overall consideration.”
CB: Once again, Bosa would be a slam-dunk pick. He’s a three-down player who could play all four defensive line positions. And if he bolsters the pass rush - and San Francisco finds ways to improve in the secondary - the defense would likely force far more than seven takeaways (the fewest in league history), which would go a long way toward winning more games. Dream scenario is right.