49ers 2016 Draft Blue Print: Why San Francisco Should Target Quarterback Kevin Hogan in the Middle Rounds
By Sequoia Sims
San Francisco 49ers general manager Trent Baalke should target former Stanford Quarterback Kevin Hogan in the middle rounds of the 2016 NFL Draft. The 49ers would be getting a pro-ready quarterback, a winner with leadership abilities, accuracy and durability. Baalke loves getting good value in mid-to-late rounds, and Hogan definitely fits the bill.
In light of the recent blockbuster trade between the Los Angeles Rams and the Tennessee Titans, the consensus around the NFL and sports world has been the San Francisco 49ers still need to select a quarterback in the first round — either by trading up, down or staying put with the seventh overall pick in the 2016 NFL draft. The Los Angeles Rams are expected to take a quarterback now that they own the number one overall pick, per Adam Schefter of ESPN.
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But is trying to draft a quarterback, in the top 10 or first round, really the right move for the 49ers?
Here’s what one executive had to say about taking a quarterback in the top 10 of the draft.
“It’s a risk now going into the top 10 with a quarterback,” one AFC personnel executive said, per NFL.com’s Albert Breer. “With those guys, outside of a few teams, they have to start right away, and they’re not ready. And there’s a good chance they’re gonna get you fired, so there’s not a three- or four- or five-year plan anymore. … It’s the one position you can’t cover up.
“You can miss on [junior DL Joey] Bosa or [junior OT Laremy] Tunsil. That would suck, of course, but it’s like with [Luke] Joeckel or [Eric] Fisher — they’re not very good, but you can’t see it all the time. The quarterback touches the ball on every play.”
Instead of risking an early pick on a quarterback, the 49ers should consider targeting Stanford signal-caller Kevin Hogan — a prospect slated to be drafted much later.
Baalke’s Draft Strategy:
Based on his recent draft history, 49ers general manager Trent Baalke won’t trade up for a quarterback — specially with QBs Colin Kaepernick and Blaine Gabbert still on the roster. Baalke has a tendency and a reputation of picking defensive players in the first rounds. Not quarterbacks. In fact, he’s never selected a quarterback in the first round, as was described earlier on Niner Noise.
The 49ers weren’t active in free agency this year, and that’s even more reason to hold on to your picks — not trade up to give up picks for a quarterback when you don’t have a pressing need of taking a quarterback in the first round. You can address other needs such as pass-rusher, linebacker, cornerback, etc. You also have to expect Baalke follows his trend of selecting a defensive player in the first round and will go top heavy on defense in this year’s draft.
Check and Balance: ESPN Analyst Trent Dilfer agrees with this argument as well. Check out what he had to say over at ESPN.com.
Chip Kelly’s Defenses:
With head coach ChipKelly running a fast-paced offense, the Eagles’ defense was on the field for 1,216 snaps — the most in the NFL, according to Elliot Shorr-Parks of nj.com.
This is even more of a reason to go heavy on defense in the draft, because the 49ers will need to substitute players on defense to keep players fresh and you need great depth to do so.
Chip Kelly’s Offenses:
Additionally, CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora (h/t Larry Brown of Yardbreaker.com) says Kelly is enamored with trying to resurrect Blaine Gabbert’s career.
Because Kelly and Baalke are so high on Gabbert, they’ll go against the consensus pick of taking a quarterback early in the rounds and target a quarterback on day two or three.
Recent trends over the last few years show success with finding quarterback gems in middle-to-later rounds of the draft.
Kirk Cousins was drafted in the fourth round by the Washington Redskin’s in 2012. At 6’3″ and 202 pounds, Cousins threw for 4,166 yards, 29 touchdowns, 11 interceptions and led the league in completion percentage at 69.8, while starting 16 games as a first time starter in 2015, per ESPN.com.
Similarly, A.J. McCarron was drafted in the fifth round by the Cincinnati Bengals in 2014. At 6’3″ and 210 pounds, the second-year quarterback appeared in seven games — starting three of those contests — with one being a playoff game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. He passed for totals of 854 yards, six touchdowns, two interceptions and with a completion percentage of 66.4 during that span.
The Case for San Francisco Targeting Hogan.
The 49ers own two fourth-round picks, three fifth-round picks and four sixth-round picks, per 49ers.com. The 49ers could use one of their fifth-round picks to select Hogan, depending how the board falls their way. If there’s a run on quarterbacks, the 49ers have more picks to address that position by going up in the draft and getting their guy or another quarterback prospect.
Hogan gives Baalke the kind of value he would love in the middle-to-late rounds and could still compete with Gabbert because he’s the most pro-ready quarterback after the first round.
Kevin Hogan is projected as a fifth-round pick, per Pro Football Focus (subscription required). He recently attended the 49ers’ pro day in Santa Clara. Check out what Hogan had to say at the pro day over on the team’s website.
Five Reasons Why The 49ers Should Target Kevin Hogan In The Middle Rounds
Most Pro Ready:
NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock views Hogan as the most NFL-ready of the quarterbacks taken after the first round.
“He’s probably the most ready, intellectually, of any of those quarterbacks,” Mayock said, via Sal Maiorana of Democrat & Chronicle. “He’s probably as close to what you’re going to see in the NFL as any of them. He’s going to come in and pick it up very quickly.
“I’ve called plays in the huddle. I’ve had to manage tons of different looks at the line — not checking to the sideline to see what the adjustment should be.”
Stanford’s Austin Hooper, one of the draft’s top tight ends, said Hogan succeeded because of his savant-like knowledge.
“There’s certain little things with timing, there’s some cases in the film where I give him a certain look, or he’ll give me a certain look and we’d be on the same page and see a certain change in the defense and we would just capitalize on it,” Hooper said, via Chris Burke of Sports Illustrated. “He’s been a great part of my success.”
Kelly wants a quarterback that can keep information, call plays at the line, who understands matchups on the field, is able to call audibles, command the huddle and get the offense out of bad play to a better play. Standing at 6’3″ and 218 pounds, Hogan also has 10 1/2 inch hands, which Kelly likes as well. Hogan took 37 percent of his snaps under center, while Cal quarterback Jared Goff only took two percent of his snaps under center. Memphis quarterback Paxton Lynch was under center less than 10 percent of the time, per Burke.
He’s a winner:
Hogan won a school record 36 games in his career out of 46 games played. He led the Cardinal to three Rose Bowl appearances, winning two bowl games. He brings a winning attitude to the 49ers organization and is only going to breed confidence among the coaches and his teammates.
Mark Eckel of NJ.com made the argument, back on February 11th 2016, Hogan could be the steal of the draft.
Hogan rushed for 1,249 yards and 15 touchdowns during his college career at Stanford. He has a pocket presence about him to avoid rushers and take off while keeping plays alive, as well as running for first downs to keep drives alive. He’s just mobile enough to keep defenses honest, Kelly would definately embrace his skills of posing the threat of running.
“I played a lot of football,” Hogan said. “I started 46 games in college and never missed a game. I feel like I’m a fairly healthy person and know how to take care of my body and be smart, especially out there on the field. I know I’m going to learn the game as it comes with experience. I’m just excited to learn.”
The durability is huge for the 49ers having dealt with the injury bug last few years as a team from many positions.
In 46 career games started, Hogan totaled 9,385 passing yards, 75 touch downs and 29 interceptions and with a career completion percentage of 65.9 percent. His numbers and production speak for his efforts, but his overall accuracy is something Kelly sees as a priority.
Kelly recently comment about repetitive accuracy.
“In this league, you have to be able to throw the football,” Kelly said, via Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee. “Repetitive accuracy is the No. 1 thing we are looking for.”
Hogan does have a wind-up throwing motion like a pitcher. And his wind up, at times, makes it easy to get a strip-sack from pass-rushers. Hogan can hold the ball too long, which allows defenders to apply pressure. He can get high and low sometimes on his passes, which forces inaccuracy.
NFL comparison seems close to former QB Bryon Leftwich, and Hogan’s draft projection is between the fourth to sixth rounds, according to nflmocks.com.
Hogan has trained in Westlake Village (Ventura County) at Proactive Sports with John Ramsdell serving as his quarterbacks coach.
Ramsdell’s 19-year NFL coaching career included a seven-season stint (2006-12) in San Diego, where he tutored Philip Rivers, another quarterback with an unorthodox throwing motion. Rivers’ delivery hasn’t stop him from earning five Pro Bowl berths.
Next: 49ers Offensive Linemen Daniel Kilgore Poised For A Bounce-Back Season
All statistics, records and accolades courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference.com and Sports-Reference.com unless otherwise indicated.