We’re getting closer to March, so that means the draft is coming. As you can see from the slider on the right, Ballke has had a pretty varied draft record. Last year netted a lot of guys that contributed immediately: Jimmie Ward, Carlos Hyde, Bruce Ellington, Chris Borland, Aaron Lynch, Dontae Johnson, and to a lesser extent, Marcus Martin, all played solid to spectacular. Borland and Lynch came in on fire, and D Johnson played well due to an injury-ravaged defensive backfield. 2013 was a little more hit-and-miss. Reid was as good a pick as could have been made. Carradine, VMcD, Lemonier, and Dial, have not lived up to their promise, but the jury is still out on the D line guys at least. Lemonier is gone, as is the shot-in-the-dark Lattimore. 2012 is the low-water mark for Baalke, with OL Joe Looney being the only one left from that draft. 2011 was as equally impressive as 2012 was bad. Aldon Smith, Colin, Cully, Kilgore, and Bruce Miller are all a big part of the team, and all are solid starters. His first draft as overseer, 201o saw the addition (with Sing’s help) of two O linemen Anthony Davis, and Mike Iupati. Also, of course, the all-world NaVorro Bowman.
That being said, this is an important draft, and Baalke once again has stockpiled picks to the tune of 9 guys to pick. Areas of need are, in order, D line, WR, O line, DB, LB, RB. The first two are up for debate, and Baalke will probably go BPA at decision time.
The combines are just about done (DBs today), and some guys have raised eyebrows, and some have merely stayed the same, while some have dropped. Chris Conley, a WR from Georgia, made the biggest splash with a 4.35 40 time, and a vertical leap of 45″. Almost enough to reach the top of the slat slapper.
As far as the 49ers go, our first 2 selections are, to me at least, and a few million others, cast in stone. Wide receiver and defensive tackle. The top three WRs, in semi-particular order, are Amari Cooper, Kevin White, and DaVante Parker. Cooper didn’t disappoint in his combine performance. He’s smooth, fast (enough), and is the real deal. Kevin White, however, laid down his own blistering 4.35 40 time , and he’s a beast at attacking the ball in flight. The knock on him is that he only had one good year. Cooper had 2 1,000 yard seasons in his three years.
Problem is, Neither of these guys will be available at 15. DaVante Parker may not even be there, what with the Rams, Raiders, and Vikings all looking for WR help. This means we look to the D line for help. Problem there is, there are likely 9-10 defensive linemen taken in the top 20. After Leonard Williams, the picture gets muddy. Gone for sure is NT Danny Shelton, as new Bear DC Vic Fangio takes his plugger for his newly installed (gasp!) 3-4 defense. Brian Urlacher, Mike Singletary, and Dick Butkus must all be spinning in their graves. If they were dead. Too many guys out there to even give a remotely accurate guess. Malcom Brown, DT from Texas, is the name I hear a lot for us, for what that’s worth.
So, the falloff after the top 3 WRs is fairly precipitous. Funchess doesn’t look very smooth out there, and ran pretty stiff. Sort of common for bigger guys, but that bothers me. Green-Beckham is a beast, but had major off-field issues. Pot and domestic abuse apparently. He may fall to the 2nd. He talked a bit about it and said he’s not going to blow his shot, but talk is cheap, and the team that spouts winning with class may shy away. Breshad Perriman didn’t participate as he has a hammy issue, but he’s kind of an under-the-radar pick that Baalke might go with. He’s got size, speed, and separates well from defenders. Raw, though. Not a great route-runner who relies on athleticism. Still, a big red zone target that would help the imminent loss of Crabs.
So my best guess is Brown and Jalen Strong first two picks . . .