San Francisco 49ers: Full 7-Round Big Board for 2016 NFL Draft
Round 1, Pick 7
This is the easiest round to predict, as only six players will be off the board by the time the 49ers pick. Their best general strategy here is to either take the quarterback of the future or the offensive tackle who will protect him, but depending on how the picks go, there are some other options.
- Paxton Lynch, QB, Memphis
- Joey Bosa, DE, Ohio State
- Jared Goff, QB, California
- Laremy Tunsil, OT, Mississippi
- Laquon Treadwell, WR, Mississippi
- Ronnie Staley, OT, Notre Dame
- Connor Cook, QB, Michigan State
- Jack Conklin, OT, Michigan State
- Robert Nkemdiche, DT, Mississippi
- Carson Wentz, QB, North Dakota State
Paxton Lynch and Jared Goff are generally considered, in some order, the top two quarterbacks in the draft, with their order flipping depending on where you look. Lynch is the less polished of the two, but has the higher ceiling. His offense at Memphis is very similar to Chip Kelly’s offense, with plenty of wide receiver screens and short, quick passes. He’s also mobile, able to run the zone-read and bootleg plays that work so well with Kelly. Lynch would benefit from a year of polish, but he could be Kelly’s Marcus Mariota. Sitting him for a year behind Kaepernick and then moving to Lynch in 2017 might be the team’s best option.
Goff is your more traditional pocket-passer, and Kelly has said that he doesn’t need a mobile quarterback to make his offense work. He boasts an arm that can make any throw asked of him, but he does occasionally struggle with accuracy. He’s more prepared to start right away than Lynch, but I feel Lynch is a slightly better fit than Goff in Kelly’s system. Either would be a fine player to pick up, however.
As for the other quarterbacks on the list, Connor Cook is the high-floor, low-ceiling pick of the draft; NFL.com compares him to Brian Hoyer, which isn’t the most thrilling use of a pick. He’s experienced, being the only one of the top three to have worked under center for most of his snaps, and could be an Alex Smith-esque game manager. The name to really watch is Carson Wentz, from tiny North Dakota State. He might be the best of the four at going through progressions and reading defenses, which is very important, but how will that translate against tougher opposition? He’s rising fast, and might top the draft board when all is said and done in April.
The most talented player in the draft is Joey Bosa, who would move to an outside linebacker position in San Francisco’s 3-4 defense. He’s not a pure pass-rusher, as his speed is a notch down from the truly elite ones, but he’s an all-around force. He can move around the field, bowling through blockers and fighting off tackles with his hands. He’s also solid in space, which bodes well in shifting to a 3-4 linebacker. The 49ers have plenty more pressing needs than an edge rusher, but if Bosa somehow falls to seven, he would be very, very difficult to pass up.
Robert Nkemdiche is really only an option if Ian Williams leaves, and even then, probably not enough to override more pressing positional concerns. Still, with Nkemdiche and Arik Armstead as your ends, you’d have two prototypical players for those positions. His off-field character concerns and lack of expected production at Ole Miss probably means he won’t be the pick, however.
If the 49ers don’t get their quarterback here, either because the top few are taken or because Kelly decides to stick with Kaepernick more, tackle is the most likely position to go for here. Laramy Tunsil was suspended for seven games in 2015, but he’s the lineman with the most talent and polished technique in the class, and would eventually take over for Joe Staley on the left side as a great pass protector. Ronnie Stanley is a three-year starter with exceptional athleticism, albeit a slight lack of raw power. Jack Conklin probably won’t be the pick at seven, but if the 49ers trade down, he has the solid technique and prototypical size to be a very good right tackle.
The final player on the big board here is Laquon Treadwell, the top receiver in the draft. He’s not a traditional vertical threat in that he doesn’t have elite speed, but he has all the nuances and subtleties of the position down, with very solid routes, a great ability to fight for the ball in the air, and a sixth sense to find holes in zones. A lot of mocks are giving the 49ers Treadwell, just with how the early picks are rolling off, and it’d be hard to argue too much with that.
Next: Round 2: Time to add a skill position player?