49ers Blog and Q&A

News, notes and reader questions about the San Francisco 49ers

April 17, 2011
Mock Draft, Episode II: The 49ers Empire Trades Back

1. Cam Newton, QB. Sure, Newton's a risky pick. But not taking him is risky, too. Case in point: Bill Parcells, who had the first pick in 2008, wondered this week whether he should have taken QB Matt Ryan. The Dolphins still are looking for a quarterback.
2. Marcell Dareus, DT. He is the cleanest and most consistent d-linemen in the draft, and new coach John Fox wants to bulk up his d-line.
3. Von Miller, LB. For the second straight year, my draft crush is taken by Buffalo, which is tantamount to being sent to Siberia ... or Hoth. Poor Von. We'll never hear from him again.
4. A.J. Green, WR. Bengals need a No. 1 wideout that Palmer - Jordan Palmer - can target.
5. Patrick Peterson, CB. A million voices in the Bay Area cry out as one when this pick is made. Consolation: You'll still get to see him twice a year, three times if both the 49ers and Cardinals make the postse... Sorry. Couldn't finish that sentence without cracking up.
6. Julio Jones, WR. Drafting a receiver who has a broken foot? What could go wrong? Jones is the toughest receiver in the draft and will make a nice target for Colt McCoy.
7. Blaine Gabbert, QB. Mike Shanahan gets the young, strong-armed, mobile quarterback he covets and the Redskins part with more draft picks. No one is surprised.
8. Nick Fairley, DT. Tennessee hopes that Fairley, who was dominant in the nation's best conference last year, is Albert Haynesworth part deux ... minus the headaches and head-stomping.
9. Tyron Smith, OT. Protecting Tony Romo is priority No. 1, and the Cowboys hope to do so with a raw but promising tackle from USC.
10. Robert Quinn, OLB. The 49ers take Quinn and tell everyone he was the guy they would have selected at pick No. 7. See how smart we are? Quinn automatically is saddled with the expectation that he will become the Clay Matthews in Vic Fangio's defense.
11. Prince Amukamara, CB. Houston finished 32nd in pass defense in 2010, not a great stat when you're trying to wrest the division from Peyton Manning, Reggie Wayne and the Colts.
12. Da'Quan Bowers, DE. Bowers' injury-related slide ends here and gives the Vikings the most fearsome defensive line in the league.
13. Aldon Smith, OLB-DE. The Lions go with value here. Their need is at outside linebacker, but Smith's best NFL position might be defensive end.
14. Cory Liuget, DT. St. Louis really needs a receiver but doesn't find any value here. TE Kyle Rudolph also is intriguing, but the team instead decides to bulk up a defensive line that already was giving the 49ers fits last year.
15. Mike Pouncey, C-G. Dolphins badly need a running back, but Mark Ingram's knee injury, coupled with a deep draft class at RB, prompts them to go with Pouncey, who could step in at either center or guard.
16. Christian Ponder, QB. Too soon for Ponder? That's what you said last year when the Jags took Tyson Alualu at pick No. 10. Jacksonville needs a future quarterback and, as usual, also needs to put fannies in the seats. Taking a guy who played his college ball at Florida State will solve two problems.
17. Cameron Jordan, DE. Smart, low-risk 3-4 end is just the kind of player the Patriots like. Jordan will have Pats fans thinking he's Richard Seymour, Jr.
18. J.J. Watt, DE. Watt is smart, hard-working and could step in right away at a position of need for Greg Manusky and the Chargers.
19. Anthony Castonzo, OT. The Giants have a lot of injury issues along the line and could use a youngster who provides stability.
20. Ryan Kerrigan, DE. Buccaneers get a high-motor pass rusher at their biggest position of need.
21. Gabe Carimi, OT Big Badger helps rising Chiefs team fill out its offensive line. Carimi would go from a team that loves to run the ball to a team that loves to run the ball.
22. Nate Solder, OT. Bill Polian tries to make up for the Tony Ugoh pick of 2007 with Solder, a light-footed tackle who should mesh well on Indianapolis' undersized offensive line.
23. Jimmy Smith, CB. Some teams might be scared off by reported character issues. The Eagles are not one of those teams as recent history has shown. Smith will be their Dez Bryant, Hakeem Nicks buster.
24. Adrian Clayborn, DE. Palsy, schmalsy. Poll Big 10 offensive tackles and I'll bet you they had no clue Clayborn had Erb's Palsy in one of his shoulder. Saints get a relentless on-field leader and Iowa alum Mike Triplett goes nuts.
25. Andy Dalton, QB. Pete Carroll loves bold moves, and he gets a quarterback who can apprentice behind Matt Hasselbeck for a while. The team considers local product Jake Locker but is scared off by his college completion percentage.
26. Derek Sherrod, OT. He can play either right or left tackle, leaving the Ravens to decide who protects Joe Flacco's blindside in 2011 - Sherrod or Michael Oher.
27. Kyle Rudolph, WR. Rudolph is considered the best tight end in the draft. Meanwhile, many happy returns to Tony Gonzalez, who turns 72 this year.
28. Danny Watkins, OG. The Patriots struck gold with a first-round guard in 2005 with Logan Mankins, and Mankins might not be a Patriot for long. Watkins, meanwhile, simply looks like a New England offensive lineman.
29. Muhammad Wilkerson, DT. Athletic pocket penetrator (Microsoft is telling me that's not a word) is just what the Bears need in the middle of their defensive line.
30. Justin Houston, OLB. Jets exorcize the ghost of Vernon Gholston by drafting a battle-tested SEC linebacker who had 18 1/2 tackles for loss last season.
31. Colin Kaepernick, QB. Jim Harbaugh and Trent Baalke look at the remaining quarterbacks and decide they have to go up and get Kaepernick, whose upside is rivaled only by Newton's. The Turlock native might not play a lot in 2011, but he assumes the title of "QB of the Future" in San Francisco as well as all the burdensome expectations that come with it.
32. Akeem Ayers, OLB. I wanted to pick Brooks Reed here, giving the Packers the ability to confuse opponents with flaxen-haired doppelganger pass rushers. Ayers, however, moves better in space and is a better complement to Clay Matthews.

* Left out of the first round: RB Mark Ingram (knees), NT Phil Taylor (knees, character), Brooks Reed (early second), Jake Locker (early second).

* Yes, I know that's not the 49ers current helmet. I'm sort of at the mercy of the graphics department.

-- Matt Barrows


Matt was born in Blacksburg, Va., and attended the University of Virginia. He graduated in 1995, went to Northwestern for a journalism degree a year later, and got his first job at a South Carolina daily in 1997. He joined The Bee as a Metro reporter in 1999 and started covering the 49ers in 2003. His favorite player of all time is Darrell Green.


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