Any fan with a cursory knowledge of college football can take a stab at whom the 49ers will select in the first round of this weekend’s draft. But it takes true clairvoyance, courage and, yes, a willingness to look really stupid by the time Sunday evening rolls around to predict all six of the 49ers’ picks.
But before I take on this task, a bit of prefacing: I don’t think the 49ers will wind up with the six picks they currently have. That is, I believe there will be some wheeling and dealing over the weekend, quite possibly in the first round. Should teams like Miami or Atlanta or even the New York Jets pass on Boston College quarterback Matt Ryan at the top of the first round, they may try to snag what they consider to be the second-best quarterback (Flacco? Brohm?) at the end of the first. To do so, they might try to get ahead of the quarterback-needy Green Bay Packers who have pick No. 30. And to do that, they would have to do business with the 49ers, who would be willing to take their phone calls ….
But if the 49ers stand pat, here is what they will end up with. (Margin of error +/- 100 percent)
1st, 29th overall. Quentin Groves, linebacker, Auburn. In the pass-happy NFC West, the 49ers need someone who can put pressure on Matt Hasselback, Matt Leinart and Marc Bulger. One question the 49ers have to ask is whether Groves is a one-trick pony who can rush the passer but do little else befitting a linebacker. Look for the 49ers to try to trade down a few slots and get Groves a little later.
2nd, 39th overall. Brandon Flowers, cornerback, Virginia Tech. The elite offensive tackles are off the board and it’s too early to snag the next-best one. So the 49ers take the best cornerback still available. Flowers is in the Nate Clements mold, a decent cover guy who loves to come to the line of scrimmage and lower his helmet.
3rd, 75th overall. Carl Nicks, offensive tackle, Nebraska. Character concerns scare off other teams but not the 49ers, who grab one of the better offensive tackles at January’s Senior Bowl. Nicks is raw but has quick feet for a guy who tips the scales at more than 340 pounds. If he drops down to 325, he’ll be even quicker. Early on, he could play the role that Adam Snyder filled so well in recent years – someone who can fill in at both guard and tackle. BTW, Nicks is 22 years old, not 25 like some draft sites list him.
4th, 107th overall. Harry Douglas, receiver, Louisville. The 49ers pass on the big-name wideouts at the top of the draft but end up selecting one of the most productive receivers in the country. Sure, Douglas is slight of frame. But he gets off the line of scrimmage quickly and is unafraid to go over the middle. The perfect guy for Mike Martz, who, it should be noted, coached Douglas at the Senior Bowl.
5th, 142nd overall. Peyton Hillis, running back, Arkansas. ***Selection forefeited in tamperGate****
6th, 174th overall. Lionel Dotson, defensive tackle, Arizona. The 49ers love to take defensive linemen on the second day (Ronald Fields, Melvin Oliver, Joe Cohen) who have the potential to develop into decent back-ups. Dotson fits that mold to a t.
7th, 214th overall. Ben Moffitt, linebacker, South Florida. The overachiever type that the 49ers love at Ted linebacker. What Moffitt lacks in athleticism, he makes up for in hustle and savvy. At the very least, he’d be an excellent special teams guy.
-- Matt Barrows