With the San Francisco 49ers being days away from their first selection in the 2020 NFL Draft, Niner Noise looks around the league to see the final mock picks from the experts.
The 2020 NFL Draft is now just
days hours away from kicking off, and the San Francisco 49ers surely haven’t avoided the spotlight in advance of what’s scheduled to be two first-round picks on Thursday night.
For starters, a number of key players are reportedly on the trade block, including linebacker Kwon Alexander, EDGE Dee Ford and safety Jaquiski Tartt. Just how much substance that recent rumor has is anyone’s guess, and it’s important to remember there is always a lot of the proverbial “smoke and mirrors” campaign going on with all 32 teams this time of year.
That said, the Niners could be looking to clear some payroll while also adding some much-needed draft capital.
After the team’s two Round 1 selections, Nos. 13 and 31 overall, general manager John Lynch and Co. aren’t poised to pick again until Round 5.
Still, there’s no shortage of speculation and wonderment surrounding what Lynch will do when San Francisco’s number is called upon the draft. So to prime fans on what the experts think could happen, Niner Noise scoured the final editions of many pundits’ mock drafts to see the possibilities in Round 1.
Chad Reuter, NFL.com: WR Henry Ruggs III, Alabama (No. 13); DT Justin Madubuike, Texas A&M (No. 40 via mock trade with Texans)
"Emmanuel Sanders’ arrival midway through last season proved how much the Niners were missing another receiving threat beyond All-Pro George Kittle and rookie Deebo Samuel. While Samuel showed real playmaking ability in the short and intermediate range last year, Ruggs’ ability to take the top off defenses should open up big plays downfield and more room for others to work underneath."
Peter King, NBC Sports’ Pro Football Talk: OT Josh Jones, Houston (No. 23 via mock trade with Patriots)
"In this projection, I’d have the Niners moving to 23 and getting New England’s first-round pick in 2021. Good value, but it won’t help John Lynch trying to get a pick or two in the two-day gulf between picks 31 and 156. So I think the Niners look to trade one of their two first-rounders again, so they can add an extra pick in round two or three. If they stay here, tackle’s the right call. With Joe Staley having either one year or zero years left, it’s a good time to pick a long-term tackle. Jones started for four years at left tackle—45 games—and that’s not something you can say for many collegiate tackles these days."
Note: King mocks a trade between the 49ers and Cowboys, which would likely land the Niners Dallas’ top pick in Round 2, No. 40 overall.
Ryan Wilson, CBS Sports: WR Jerry Jeudy, Alabama (No. 13); CB Trevon Diggs, Alabama (No. 31)
"San Francisco lost Emmanuel Sanders in free agency and Jeudy, who is the best route runner in this class, would join a WR corps that includes Deebo Samuel, the 2019 second-round pick coming off a fantastic rookie campaign.Stefon Diggs’ brother is a big cornerback with — not surprisingly — great ball skills. He’ll be insurance for Richard Sherman, who has one more year left on his deal."
Steve Palazzolo, Pro Football Focus: CB C.J. Henderson, Florida (No. 13); WR Brandon Aiyuk, Arizona State (No. 31)
"Henderson is one of the most athletic corners in the draft, and it shows up at the catch point where he’s broken up 21.8% of his targets over the past two years — 11th-best in the class. He provides starting competition at right corner and an eventual successor to Richard Sherman on the other side.Head coach Kyle Shanahan knows how to put playmakers in space and will have a great plan for Aiyuk, who is explosive and averaged a ridiculous 9.9 YAC/reception in his college career. Aiyuk is not a fit for every team in the first round, but his route-running and after-the-catch ability complement the already-fast 49ers playmakers and Deebo Samuel’s versatility on the other side."
Mike Tanier, Bleacher Report: DT Derrick Brown, Auburn (No. 13); OT Isaiah Wilson, Georgia (No. 31)
"The 49ers acquired this pick from the Colts in exchange for defensive tackle DeForest Buckner. Brown would be a one-for-one substitution for Buckner on the 49ers’ Super Bowl-caliber defensive line while also saving the team millions of dollars in cash and cap space over the next few years. It’s not a flashy upgrade, but it’s a way of avoiding a downgrade, and the 49ers can seek help at other positions with the 31st pick.The 49ers went through a lot of bodies at tackle because of injuries during their Super Bowl season: Starters Joe Staley and Mike McGlinchey and backups Daniel Brunskill and Justin Skule all started multiple games. The reserves handled themselves well, but Staley will be 36 years old this season, and the 49ers need reinforcements."
Matt Verderame, FanSided: WR Henry Ruggs III, Alabama (No. 13); OL Cesar Ruiz, Michigan (No. 31)
"General manager John Lynch needs to find a speedster on the perimeter for quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, and Ruggs is the perfect fit. The Alabama standout ran a 4.27 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine and showed elite athleticism with the Crimson Tide, starring alongside Jerry Jeudy. This is a home run for the 49ers.The center/guard should be an immediate upgrade on the interior, with Weston Richburg coming off injury and Mike Person having been worked over much of 2019.Watch the Super Bowl, and you’ll continually see Chris Jones walking the 49ers’ interior back towards Jimmy Garoppolo. This was only one game, but it illuminated an issue San Francisco has to deal with, and adding Ruiz would be a fine way to fix it."
A few things to point out here from these mock NFL Drafts selected. First, Verderame’s seems to be on point with a lot of things that would go the Niners’ way. Ruggs would be an excellent pickup, and Verderame isn’t the only one to think so.
But the Ruiz pick is an excellent grab, and the 49ers could stand for some interior reinforcements/upgrades.
King’s mock is provocative, as it calls in the likelihood San Francisco is willing to trade one or both of its first-round picks. And in that mock, both wind up getting moved. While it’s not known who King thought the Niners’ second target would be, it would be wise to assume it’s a wide receiver.
Probably the most out-of-the-box mock comes from Tanier, which has the 49ers upgrading in the trenches with both picks. While there are needs on both sides of the line of scrimmage, and going this route is never a bad idea, it seems a little extreme to suggest both of the team’s first rounders would be used in this manner.
Although passing on Brown, should he somehow fall to No. 13, would be almost impossible to do.
The 2020 NFL Draft officially kicks off on Thursday, April 23, and whatever speculation about what San Francisco will do officially comes to an end at that time, too.