1. Jordan Matthews, WR, Vanderbilt
2. Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri
3. Marcus Martin, C, USC
3. Phillip Gaines, CB, Rice
3. Martavis Bryant, WR, Clemson
4. Justin Ellis, DT, La Tech
4. Cyril Richardson, OG, Baylor
5. Shaquille Richardson, CB, Arizona
5. Dion Bailey, S, USC
6. Storm Johnson, UCF
7. Shayne Skov, LB, Stanford
7. Michael Sam, OLB, Missouri
1. Jimmie Ward, CB/S, Northern Illinois
2. Carlos Hyde, RB, Ohio State
3. Marcus Martin, C, USC
3. Chris Borland, LB, Wisconsin
3. Brandon Thomas, OG, Clemson
4. Bruce Ellington, WR, South Carolina
4. Dontae Johnson, CB, NC State
5. Aaron Lynch, DE, South Florida
5. Keith Reiser, CB, Florida Atlantic
6. Keneth Acker, CB, SMU
7. Kaleb Ramsey, DE, Boston College
7. Trey Millard, FB, Oklahoma
The biggest surprise to me was the lack of trades upward during the first two days. This was a deep draft and I really like the talent Baalke and Harbaugh added to the team. They did go into sleeper mode pretty early — from about the late 4th round on. The end of the shadow draft was more about catching some big names who were falling.
It’s clear the 49ers have a desire to continue playing power football. The idea is not so much to strike while the iron is hot, but sustain the hot iron. I’m on board.
I really like my group (and it looks like Skov was signed as UDFA, so that makes two players we had in common). If I have one gripe with the 49ers’ 2014 draft class, it’s the lack of top end WR talent added from a class that was stocked with them. A downfield threat and a big redzone target are sorely missing on offense, yet those two needs were not hit.
~2014 Shadow Draft~
I will update live throughout the draft, making my picks while the 49ers are on the clock. You can find my shadow draft from the 2013 here. I still like my group from last year. Didn’t draft Eric Reid, but did take Keenan Allen. On to the 2014 draft.
The rules? I draft when the 49ers are on the clock. That’s it. I don’t get to project any trades. This is for posterity…bad or good. Here we go. I expect a slew of trades.
My pick: Jordan Matthews, WR, Vanderbilt
All the targets I felt were worth trading up for came off the board by pick 14 (Watkins, Evans, Beckham, Gilbert, Fuller), so not surprised Baalke is standing pat at 30. Now Dennard and Verrett are gone at picks 24 and 25. Roby is the only 1st round CB left, but there are character questions with him that may sway the 49ers away. Tough choice here between Jordan Matthews and Marqise Lee. I have them rated very close. Matthews is rated slightly higher, so he’s the pick. Love the combo of size, hands, routes, RAC and work ethic. He can line up in slot or outside. Will have to find a CB later.
49ers pick: Jimme Ward, S, Northern Illinois
Wow. A surprising pick. Baalke being Baalke. 4th year running picking a player nobody had going in that spot. I really like Ward. Certainly worth a 1st round pick. Great coverage skills for a safety. Is there a chance they even try him at corner? Now, if I’m Baalke, I’m on the phone trying to move up in the 2nd round.
Over night the 49ers traded a future 4th rounder for WR Stevie Johnson from Buffalo. A great value and maybe why they went DB over WR in the 1st round yesterday knowing this was on the table. So, instead of trading up as everyone expected, Baalke and co. have moved back and now up again to pick 57. One pick behind their original 2nd rounder at 56. Will have to wait to get word on what exactly has been traded/gained, but it looks like the 49ers added a 2015 4th to make up for the one lost in Johnson trade.
Lee went to JAX at pick 39. Matthews went to Philly at 42. Cody Latimer went at the 49ers original #56 selection. It’s very surprising to see them pass on WRs, even with the Johnson addition. Also a little surprising to see them add picks while moving down rather than trying to maximize the impact from a rookie class that will have more players than roster spots. Some of my other 2nd round targets like Weston Richburg, Jeremiah Attouchu and Trent Murphy are all off the board.
My pick: Kony Ealy, DE/OLB, Missouri
Very surprised to be sitting at 57. Don’t like how the board has fallen vs. needs. Cornerback is the big need for me here and there are some available that I like, but don’t love (Phillip Gaines, Pierre Desir, Jaylen Watkins). Other considerations are Allen Robinson, Martavis Bryant, Kony Ealy, Marcus Martin. Should be a good CB still available in the 3rd. Going BPA even though he’s a better fit in 4-3. He can start out on edge and bulk up to be a future starter at DE.
49ers pick: Carlos Hyde, RB, Ohio State
Didn’t see a RB coming this high. No problem at all with the value of getting the best RB in the draft late in the 2nd round. Hyde is an every down guy who can play a short yardage/3rd down role as a rookie. Makes me think Lattimore’s rehab may not be going as well as hoped. I was targeting a RB, but on day three. Will be very interesting to see how caries are distributed in 2014.
My pick: Marcus Martin, C, USC
This pick is from JAX and the trade down from 61. Most of the group of players I was looking at for pick 57 are still available, with the exception of Allen Robinson. I really hope the 49ers don’t regret passing on this insanely talented WR class in a couple years when they are looking for starters. Many solid developmental CBs still on the board, so I think I can wait until pick 77 to get one. Right here I will select one of the few players left that could challenge for a starting role as a rookie.
49ers pick: Marcus Martin, C, USC
Hey, we’re on the same page here! Martin just makes too much sense from both a value and need perspective. He will compete for starting center as a rookie and there’s a good chance he wins that job.
My pick: Phillip Gaines, CB, Rice
Okay, definitely taking a cornerback here. So much depth in this draft. Still a handful of guys with 2nd round grades. Tempted to take another WR here like Martavis Bryant or Donte Moncrief purely due to upside and I can’t see them lasting much longer. But I’m going with the best CB left on my board. Good value here and the tools to be a future starter in the league.
49ers pick: Chris Borland, MLB, Wisconsin
Can’t hate on Borland as a player. An undersized try-hard type that will probably be a fan favorite. When Navorro Bowman comes back though, I can’t see much of a role going forward for Borland aside from special teams and depth. With so much talent on the board it’s hard to spend a mid 3rd for a special teams player. 49ers now have five MLBs that should make roster.
My pick: Martavis Bryant, WR, Clemson
Odd strategy for a team to add more late picks when the obvious move was to trade up for more impact talent. I’m not sure a lot of these guys will be able to make the roster. Moncrief is gone now, so I’m taking Bryant. I have him rated higher anyway as a developmental WR that has the ability at 6-4 with 4.4 speed to be a dynamite deep threat and redzone target. My roster of Matthews and Bryant added to Crabtree, Boldin, Patton and Stevie Johnson makes for a full house of complimentary players and competition. Tons of depth with a very bright future.
49ers pick: Brandon Thomas, OG, Clemson
A medical redshirt with starter upside. I talked about the potential of Brandon Thomas being a Niner in my mock draft. CB Aaron Colvin could be another name to look out for in the 4th-5th round. It will be interesting to see if guys like Thomas, along with Lattimore and Carradine last year, prove this to be a useful strategy or wasted picks.
This pick is from the Browns in the trade back from #94. I still don’t know exactly where things stand from all the trade insanity Baalke and company pulled off yesterday. I know the 49ers added at least one pick in 2015.
My pick: Justin Ellis, DT, Louisiana Tech
My favorite guys left on the board are CBs Pierre Desir, Aaron Colvin, NT Justin Ellis, OLB Carl Bradford, RBs Andre Williams, Storm Johnson and QB Logan Thomas (who I like just as much, if not more, at TE). I’m going with the pure nose tackle in Ellis. Have him rated just ahead of Louis Nix as the best pure zero-techniques in the draft. The 49ers are in nickel about 60% of the time, but their defense is built on stopping the run first.
49ers pick: Bruce Ellington, WR, South Carolina
Finally the 49ers take a WR. I like Ellington, but I had Bryant (who is still available) rated higher. I wonder if there is some character/injury questions with Bryant. Ellington is a good fit as a slot guy. Former basketball player at SC and has a ton of athleticism. He has some return experience, but not hugely successful as a returner, which is why I have so many other guys rated ahead of him in this class. Good value in the 4th and has tools to develop into a playmaker, but will have to make his mark on special teams as a rookie.
My pick: Cyril Richardson, OG, Baylor
A lot of players I’m high on are flying off the board in round four. There’s a trio of Stanford players still available and even though the 49ers seem to never draft Harbaugh’s former talent, Shayne Skov, Cameron Fleming and David Yankey are on my radar. Still some good WRs available (Abrederris, Herron, Norwood, Janis) but I’m done there until maybe one of those extra 7th rounders. Other targets; RB Storm Johnson, S Dion Bailey, CB Shaquille Richardson, OL Cyril Richardson, DL Caruan Reid. SF is pretty stacked along the offensive line unless Mike Iupati leaves via free agency, so I’m going with the best guard available who can also play some tackle. A big man who will move some bodies in the run game.
49ers pick: Dontae Johnson, CB, NC State
It only took Baalke four rounds to draft the two biggest needs coming into the draft (unless you consider Ward a corner, which you probably should for now). Johnson is a developmental corner with height and speed. One thing if for sure. The 49ers believe they can coach up mid-round CBs and focus instead on a dominant front seven.
My pick: Shaquille Richardson, CB, Arizona
Lots of big names falling, this could be the time to add a backup QB (I like Murray, Fales and Gilbert). But I’m going to take another corner. An underrated player with length and speed. Didn’t get a top CB in this draft, so competition, competition, competition.
49ers pick: Aaron Lynch, DE, South Florida
Lynch is a boom or bust pick. I didn’t have him rated this high based on his play at USF. But he was a big time recruit who was awesome as a freshman at Notre Dame. 49ers are hoping they can help him figure it out.
My pick: Dion Bailey, S, USC
Again the 49ers (and the rest of the league) are ignoring some talented Stanford prospects. It’s Skov and Yankey this year. Hard to pass on Skov and Storm Johnson here, but I’m going secondary one more time. Can’t belive nobody has swooped this guy up yet. Third player on my shadow Niners from USC.
49ers pick: Keith Reaser, CB, Florida Atlantic
I knew the 49ers would select somebody I had never heard of, but didn’t think it would happen in the 5th round. Looks like another medical redshirt guy who was hurt as a senior, which is why his name never came up. Runs a 4.3 and lifted 22 reps at combine.
My pick: Storm Johnson, RB, UCF
Between Skov and Storm here. Taking insurance for Gore/Lattimore over a linebacker. I have no problem with Wilhoite and Moody filling in for Bowman for the first half of the season. Storm can play on 3rd downs early in his career and eventually carry the load. That’s a heck of a value in the 6th round.
49ers pick: Kenneth Acker, CB, SMU
Another off the radar developmental cornerback. 6 feet tall, 4.5 speed, 36 inch vertical, so there are some tools to work with.
My pick: Shayne Skov, LB, Stanford
Shayne Skov is taking a tumble due to poor workout numbers and an injury history. I can’t let him fall any further. He’s an all affort player who should at worst be a terror on special teams and at most be a legit starter at inside linebacker. He’s not 4 rounds worse than Chris Borland.
49ers pick: Kaleb Ramsey, DE, Boston College
I didn’t scout Ramsey, but I do know he has an uphill battle for a roster spot.
My pick: Michael Sam, DE/OLB, Missouri
One last prospect that is falling, potentially, for reasons other than his on-field talent. A guy that was productive, plays hard, can get after the QB. Certainly worth a late round draft pick. This guy will probably get more coverage than anybody drafted outside of the first round. As it turns out, I end up with bookends from one of the best D-lines in the country.
49ers pick: Trey Millard, FB, Oklahoma
Really like the Millard pick. He’s a very good blocker, pass catcher and special teams player. Could be used in a Delanie Walker type role that the offense has been missing. Probably only available due to injuries. Not sure they can keep two fullbacks, but there’s a good chance he’s on the PUP list to start his career.