Breaking Down A Few First Round Draft Prospects

By: Dillon Frazier (@dillonfrazier98) twitter-logo-4

Final Edit: (Zachhernan)

While the Browns decision at number one overall seems to have been decided back in December when the season ended, there has not been any indication as to what the 49ers may do with their number two overall pick. The team was left in shambles by ex-GM Trent Baalke. There are so many holes on this roster that expert analysts can’t agree on which is most dire to fill. We have seen many different mocks predicting a variety of selections, so let’s take a look at a few.


Malik Hooker – Safety – Ohio State

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Malik Hooker running his way to the top of the rankings.

PROS:

Ohio State’s Malik Hooker is an incredible athlete and a ballhawk as well. With seven interceptions in the 2016 season, Hooker was tied for second most in all of college football.

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Throw in 74 combined tackles, and it’s easy to see why he could go #2 overall. The 49ers’ secondary is currently in desperate need of help and could use a playmaker like Hooker. The defensive scheme is being changed to a 4-3 from a 3-4 due to new defensive coordinator, Robert Saleh. It is now a defense mirroring that of the Seattle Seahawks. In order to make that defense happen you need a rangy, sideline-to-sideline, run-stopping, ballhawk safety. In Seattle that player is Earl Thomas, and in San Francisco it very well could be Malik Hooker.

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49ers are looking for their own version of Thomas.

CONS:

There are two major concerns with Hooker: the first being his injury history, as he recently had surgery to repair a torn labrum and hernia. While drafting players with an injury history has worked out on many occasions, as is the case for Jadeveon Clowney, it is always a dangerous move to make. Similar to UNC QB Mitchell Trubisky, there is a lot of trepidation surrounding Hooker and the fact that he has only served one year as a starter, so there is not much tape to go off of for him. Many teams would hesitate to take a player with little starting experience on the chance that the season could have been a fluke and the player may not be as skilled as they seemed to be.


Jamal Adams – Safety – LSU

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Adams has shot up draft boards after his shocking 40 time at LSU’s pro day.

PROS:

Jamal Adams is a similar player to Malik Hooker. I believe the main difference between the two is that Adams has a sheer talent for getting behind the line of scrimmage and being a play-making run-stopper. He also has the skill that Hooker possesses – easily being able to get from one side of the field to the other. He would be a great pick to fill that desired Earl Thomas role in the defense.

CONS:

The cons on Adams are pretty slim. NFL Network’s own Bucky Brooks came out the other day saying Adams may have even passed Myles Garrett as the #1 overall prospect in this draft.

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High praise from Brooks. What do you think?

One of the only things to come out lately is that occasionally he will take a bad angle on the play and take himself out of the play. Adams is not as much of a ballhawk as Hooker with only five career interceptions and one in the 2016 season. Does this cause fear of his ability to do his job in the NFL? We’ll find out in a few weeks.


Marshon Lattimore – CB – Ohio State

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Looking towards the Bay? 49ers need cornerbacks desperately.

PROS:

With the recent loss of starting corner Tramaine Brock, a big hole at the cornerback position has opened up and Ohio State’s Marshon Lattimore has the potential to fill it. Rashard Robinson – 2016 4th round pick of the 49ers, has stepped up enough to start the other side and a paired with a player like Lattimore would round out a strong, promising duo. One of Lattimore’s greatest attributes is his athleticism. I’ve watched many tapes where you watch Lattimore run stride for stride with the receiver, yet once the ball is thrown he immediately gets shifts in speed and runs in front of the receiver to make the play. With four interceptions and nine passes broken up in the 2016 season, Lattimore has shown potential at being one of the next shut-down corners in the NFL.

CONS:

People have their concerns with Lattimore, one being whether or not he is worthy of a pick so early in the draft. While going second overall is a relatively high pick for him, many believe that if the 49ers don’t take him at two the Bears may very well take him at three. Another concern is that Lattimore has played in a secondary with Malik Hooker and Gareon Conley who are both strong players expected to be drafted early. Did those players depend on each other more than we know? How will they do without those players around?

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Teams will find out how Conley & Hooker will do on their own.


Solomon Thomas – DE – Stanford

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Thomas has Trubisky running for his life.

PROS:

The majority of mock drafts you will find have the 49ers taking Stanford defensive end Solomon Thomas. The reports claim that he is the second best thing to Myles Garrett, and with 62 total tackles, 7 quarterback hurries, and 8 sacks – he is an animal that can produce constant pressure. Paired with a strong group consisting of Mike Purcell, Earl Mitchell, Arik Armstead, and Deforest Buckner, the defensive front would easily improve their run defense.

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Something to smile about? Thomas would help Armstead and Buckner tremendously.


CONS:

Many people have worries about the same thing that we just listed as pros, the 49ers have taken a defensive end with their first round pick for the past two years (Armstead and Buckner). This has brought many to believe that the talent is there already, just needs some time to develop to be elite. Another possible knock on Thomas is that many scouts have seen flaws in his play and see the term “next best thing to Garrett” as a big stretch. Reaching on a player is by far last thing the 49ers need to do with such an early pick in a draft loaded in defensive talent.

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Reuben Foster – ILB – Alabama

Tennessee v Alabama

One of the hardest hitting linebackers in this draft.

PROS:

Reuben Foster is an extremely talented linebacker and ranked No. 3 on CBS Sports Matt Miller’s Big Board. The 49ers haven’t had a strong LB core since Patrick Willis retired – leaving only half of the once dynamic duo (Bowman). While NaVarro Bowman has struggled mightily with injury over the past few seasons, when he was healthy he led the NFL in tackles. Now imagine adding the hard-hitting Reuben Foster beside him and you’re on your way to making another dynamic duo. Foster totaled an astounding 115 combined tackles in 2016 this could potentially be the best way to fix our last in the league run defense.

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Bowman has been without his partner-in-crime Willis for a few years now.

CONS:

Foster has two major snags that stick out. First, he underwent surgery for a rotator cuff issue and that took him out of the NFL combine eligibility. Not only is there an injury worry there but also a lack of valuable insight on talents displayed at the combine. Not to mention, teams spend lots of time getting to know players during one-on-one interviews, Foster was not able to have any. Second, after the medical staff at the combine informed Foster he was not able to participate he had an outburst situation in which he made a scene. This creates some hesitation as most NFL teams do not want a hot head with character concerns on their team. After the fact however, he did send a letter to every NFL team apologizing for his behavior, so it will be a decision for the GM.


OJ Howard – TE – Alabama

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OJ breaking away with his WR speed.

PROS:

Many of you may be surprised to see his name pop up here because he hasn’t been much of a part of the discussion for the 49ers, so let me specify that I only foresee this happening if the trade with Carolina occurs. At 6’6 251 pound and ten-inch hands, Howard is an absolute beast and would fit great in Shanahan’s offensive scheme. While there is Vance McDonald already starting at tight end, if you have watched him play the past couple of seasons, it is easy to see he is not the stellar pass catcher people thought he would be in the league. There are four essential parts of the Shanahan offense: a dynamic receiver core including a big possession receiver and a deep threat (Pierre Garçon and Marquise Goodwin), a versatile fullback (Kyle Juszcyck), workhorse RB (Carlos Hyde), and a strong tight end. With Howard in the mix, the 49ers would finally have an offense to fear. OJ has been seen as one of the few “can’t go wrong” players in this draft. With WR speed and a linemen size, Howard can be an elite NFL tight end for years to come.

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Vance McDonald might lose his starting spot if SF selects Howard.

CONS:

One major knock is that Alabama did not correctly use him in their offense, so we have not seen everything we can from OJ. Depending who you ask this is a good or a bad thing. However, anytime you haven’t seen it all from a player it can become troublesome. Overall, the biggest obstacles in he way of Howard going to the 49ers is that the fact that he is an offensive player. The 49ers need a lot of defensive help and the first round pick should be spent on stockpiling more starting players on that side of the ball.


One thing is for sure, the 49ers will not be plagued by the constant inabilities of Trent Baalke anymore. That is something 49ers fans everywhere can cry tears of joy for. It appears John Lynch and Adam Peters are heading into the draft with a plan in place. Only time will tell if the plan pays off.

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