By: Zach Hernandez (@Zachhernan)
The way I see it, there are only two ways the 2017 NFL Draft can play out for the San Francisco 49ers:
- The Cleveland Browns do end up blowing it, selecting anyone other than Garrett.
- The Cleveland Browns don’t blow it, taking Myles Garrett at #1 overall.
I decided, why not make a mock draft for either scenario? You know, just in case the Browns remember that they are in fact the Cleveland Browns? Now, I already know some of the picks may be unrealistic, and I understand that, but I tried to make it as realistic as possible, with trades included and all.
So, without further ado, the picks:
The Browns passing on Myles Garrett might have John Lynch & Kyle Shanahan crying tears of joy in the war room. At 6’4″ 272lbs., Garrett is the perfect size to terrorize QBs in the NFL. He is strong enough to fight through most blocks. Garrett’s just about the only homerun pick in this draft; he has the highest floor of any prospect. Garrett could come in on day 1 and instantly improve the 49ers defensive pressure woes they’ve suffered through for years.
The 49ers pull the trigger on what they hope to be their QB of the future in Deshaun Watson. Watson shines when he is needed most, which is definitely a trait you’d like your QB to have. No moment proves too stressful, no stage too big for the Clemson quarterback . He plays the game with a swagger only matched by, say…Texas Tech QB Pat Mahomes. However, Watson comes with a much higher floor. He has the leadership to win over any locker room. He has played through injuries and has proved to be the type of guy others rally around. Watson needs a QB whisperer like Kyle Shanahan to further his career at the NFL level.
The 49ers pull the trigger on what may be the second or third most talented WR in the draft, and they are able to steal him in the 3rd round! Westbrook could be labeled as another OW. He is absolutely lethal once you get the ball to him in open space. Dede Westbrook comes with his fair share of character concerns, sure. However, if John Lynch & Co. are able to get him on a straight path, Westbrook could be a player we look back on and wonder how he ever fell that far. With the release of Torrey Smith, the 49ers have little options outside of last years leading WR Jeremy Kerley. Westbrook could come in and provide a spark that has been needed in this offense for so long. In 2016, more than 1/4 of Westbrook’s catches went for longer than 20 yards. That is the big play factor the 49ers have been begging for!
If you’re looking for someone to lead the middle of your defense, look no further. It’s almost like Clemson teaches a Leadership 101 or something. With LB Ben Boulware, the 49ers are getting someone possibly as good as the next Chris Borland. They have similar concerns coming out of college – too short, not fast enough, etc. Boulware is also a key contributor on special teams which will drive up his stock. The 49ers have been exposed badly at the ILB position since Willis retired and Bowman’s injuries. Boulware, even with his flaws, would be a massive improvement from Nick Bellore & Michael Wilhoite.
With Tomlinson, the 49ers gain smarts on the defensive line. Tomlinson had the chance to go to Harvard, but chose Alabama instead because of their prestigious football program & the drive to compete. He is a high motor type of guy. Unfortunately, Tomlinson does have some injury concerns. As he tore one ACL in 2012 and the other in 2013. Tomlinson is extremely versatile and can be played both inside and outside. He has an exceptionally long wingspan with great hand skills. No problem doing the dirty work and letting someone else clean up and get the sack. He could be a rotational player & work his way up quickly to an early starter.
John Lynch has a soft spot for CBs who are versatile enough to play S. Shaquill Griffin is just that type. When he finally started his JR year, Griffin racked up 50 tackles, 2 interceptions (1 for TD), 13 pass break-ups in 9 games at CB & 2 at S. With the uncertainty in where certain 49ers DBs will line up, drafting one that has experience at both positions would be a huge plus. Griffin is great at press coverage and has great hip flexibility. He is able to switch from back pedaling to running without giving up much ground to a WR. He times his jumps for the ball perfectly & has ball-hawk skills.
McGuire can evolve as true threat out of the backfield or slot. Elijah has exceptional hand-eye coordination, which helps him as a pass-catcher. He has a very low frame with MJD-like thighs. He runs leaning forward & always seems to gain a couple extra yards while being tackled. He is a lot faster than he appears and is able to deceive LBs chasing him down. One could argue Elijah is a more of an athlete than a running back, but I dont find it crazy to think McGuire could challenge Mike Davis for a roster spot come this summer.
Woods stands at 5’11” 219 lbs. He was voted Conference USA 1st team in 2016. Last year he put up a nice stat sheet of 81 tackles, 6.5 tackles for a loss, 3 sacks, 6 pass break-ups, & 5 interceptions. Woods has experience lining up all over the field, which will definitely increase his value. After Trumaine Brock & Rashard Robinson the 49ers are thin at the position. He’s beaten a bit more than you’d like to see, but with work and the right coaching, last years redshirt pick Will Redmond could be challenged for a roster spot.
RD:7 Pick 1 – COLE HIKUTINI TE LOUISVILLE
With their final pick in the draft the 49ers select a tight end who has a real possibility of not only making the team, but starting eventually. Hikutini was Lamar Jackson’s security blanket last season. In 2016, Hikutini led the cardinals in receptions (50), receiving touchdowns (8), and 2nd in receiving yards (668). At 6’4″, he is overall bigger than usual at the position and he could be a mismatch nightmare for teams in the future. Hikutini has exceptional acceleration & is constantly able to create separation. He could become a true security blanket for whoever is throwing the ball his way for years to come out by the Bay.