What should the 49ers do with their 13 picks? Daniel Jeremiah had a well-thought-out plan and some specific targets.
After all, that's his job. The former Eagles, Browns and Ravens scouts now is a regular on NFLN's "Path to the Draft." The show's "inside the war room" segments -- on which Jeremiah is a regular -- are particularly worthwhile because they not only break down prospects but also every team's needs and how the players fit.
Jeremiah told me he 10 minutes to talk 49ers. We ended up talking for 12. Here's what he had to say:
Q: What are the chances the 49ers use their 13 picks to move up in the draft?
DJ: Well, I think they have all sorts flexibility to do a couple of things. One is to trade up and target someone they really, really like. If there was a safety they were in love with, they could move up a little bit and get him. Also if there was a defensive lineman they like ... If they had a huge grade on someone like, say, Star Lotulelei and he slid down a little bit, maybe they move up to get someone like him.
I think more likely than that -- where they're positioned they can address their needs with the way the draft shakes out. And I think they can even spin off some of these extra picks for picks next year because there's no way -- 13 or 14 picks, whatever they have left -- there's no way all those kids are going to make their roster. So I think they can make some moves and accumulate picks in next year's draft.
Q: Well, knowing what they need, who do you think they could go with at picks 31 and 34 if they stayed put?
DJ: I look at a guy like (Alabama defensive tackle) Jesse Williams. To me that makes a lot of sense. Just because he's a strong nose, played in that defense in college, he's been coached well. I think he's an upgrade over (Isaac) Sopoaga, personally. So I think you'd fill that void right off the bat. Then there are so many safeties in the draft to replace Goldson. At 34, I think a guy like Jonathan Cyprien could be there, from FIU who I really, really like. I think he'd be a great pick who could come in and play right away. So those are two plug-and-play defenders to replace guys you've lost in free agency and make sense to me.
Q: The 49ers' nose tackles come off the field in passing situations. Would they get extra value out of Williams by playing him at defensive end as well? Is he someone who could spell, say, Justin Smith?
DJ: He's a much better athlete than Sopoaga in terms of being able to slide out and do some things. He'd be more of a push-the-pocket player at this point, but he's got some tools to work with. The good thing I like about him -- he's got so much lateral range for a big guy. He can really run. He's not confined to make plays inside the tackle box. He can get outside the pocket and make plays. Look, if he comes off the field, I understand that limits your value a little bit. But if he comes off the field and it's 3rd and 9 instead of 3rd and 4, that's pretty valuable.
Q: The 49ers are going to bring in Georgia defensive lineman John Jenkins for a visit. Is he the same type of player as Williams?
DJ: No. Not in my opinion. He's a big, huge dude. He flashes a little bit and is very interesting. But I thought Williams had a much better motor. Williams has much more range, and I think he's the more complete football player. I think they're both stout. But Williams to me is the more powerful, better leverage player.
Q: What do you like about Cyprien?
DJ: I like that he's a complete safety. He can play up, he's physical, can play the run. And yet he has the instincts and the range to play on the back end. He didn't put a 'wow' 40 time together, but he plays faster than that. He's got really good size. To me, he's a complete safety. To me, you kind of have bangers or floaters -- guys who can really come up and play the run and guys who are float-over-the-top safeties. He's a mix of both.
Q: He sounds a little like Dashon Goldson.
DJ. Exactly. That's why I think it's a perfect fit there.
Q: Goldson is gone and Donte Whitner is entering the final year of his contract. Is that what teams want -- two guys who are a mix of both?
DJ: That's interesting because for the last five or six years, that's what teams have ben trying to find -- interchangeable safeties, guys that can do different things. But everything is cyclical. And right now, what you see is Seattle playing with a true strong safety in Kam Chancellor and then having that floating-over-the-top safety in Earl Thomas. So the success they've had -- I think that's in the mind of other teams. In the past they might have been leery of taking that limited strong safety. But now we're going to play with that (type of player) with press coverage on the outside with that floating free safety, and we're going to not let you run the ball because of our strong safety. So to me, I think Seattle has shaken that up really.
Q: Are you also high on LSU safety Eric Reid?
DJ: I'm not as high on Reid as some others. We talk about it on our show all the time because Charles Davis -- he loves (Reid). To me, I watched seven games on him. I kept trying to see more. I thought, 'Maybe I'm not seeing the right tape.' He played really well the year before. This year he wasn't as good. He didn't make as many plays on the ball and missed a ton of tackles. So I acknowledge he's got unbelievable size, he's a fluid athlete, all that stuff is great -- tested really well, is a fantastic athlete. But when I looked at the tape, I didn't see a guy that made a ton of plays. And that concerns me a little bit.
Q: Despite the Colt McCoy signing, do you think the 49ers could find a quarterback in the draft?
DJ: Yeah, that's kind of where the value is in this draft. In the fourth, fifth round -- even the sixth round -- there are guys available who are good, developmental prospects. Size, arm strength -- all that stuff -- they're just really, really raw. The good news for San Francisco is that they don't need a guy that can play right away. Just get a good, young developmental guy and kind of do what the Packers did for all those years and always have a quarterback in the pipeline. Especially because Harbaugh is so darn good at developing quarterbacks. You let Harbaugh work with them and pretty soon you've turned a sixth-round pick into a second-round pick.
Q: Which quarterbacks fall into that raw-but-moldable category?
DJ: Well, I like Matt Scott from Arizona as kind of a third-, fourth-round option. He doesn't have a ton of playing time. Played behind Nick Foles. But he's got a really strong arm, he's a great athlete, and he can kind of do some of the things they're doing now in San Francisco. He just needs time to develop and be a little more consistent. But he has a nice skill set.
Q: You mentioned Lotulelei. Who are other defensive linemen worth a trade-up in the first round?
DJ: Well, I like Sly Williams a lot from North Carolina. He's an interesting guy. I think he can play in either defensive front. Sheldon Richardson's a really good player. I just don't think he's a fit for that San Francisco defense. Sly Williams is someone who's very interesting to me. I don't know how far they'd have to trade up -- maybe eight or nine spots -- to go up there and get a guy they can plug and play.
-- Matt Barrows