Each Friday, we’ve done a full seven-round mock. Last week, we had the 49ers packaging picks and trading back into the tail end of the first round to select a pass rusher. The week prior, we doubled down on offense by going wide receiver in the second round.
Today, we’ll have the same pick at No. 3 since he’s the best player on the board. That’ll be today’s theme: best player available.
No. 3 – QB, Justin Fields, Ohio State
I get the second-best player in the draft. Fields is arguably the most accurate, has the best pocket mobility, and has a bazooka for a right arm. Plus, he’s one of the best athletes in the draft.
The elephant in the room is Jimmy Garoppolo, who likely gets dealt on draft weekend now that Fields is on the roster. The draft capital San Francisco receives back for Jimmy G will be notable, but he won’t be on the roster if Fields is the selection. Jimmy isn’t beating out QB1-B.
No. 43 – EDGE, Joe Tryon, Washington
This might be the dream scenario for the 49ers as Tryon looks like he’s ready to play right away. Tryon didn’t suit up during the 2020 regular season, but his 2019 tape looks like a borderline first-rounder.
Washington versus Utah in 2019 is Tryon running around offensive tackles all game. He was a star and showed high-end athleticism, effort, processing, and finishing ability in that game. Tryon looks like a player who fits what the 49ers want in an edge rusher, from his pure speed off the edge to setting the edge as a run defender. He’d be one of the best-case scenarios at 43 overall.
Trade! No. 84 – OG, Trey Smith, Tennessee
The 49ers gave up picks No. 102, 155, & 180 to move up to No. 84. Smith was a big-time recruit and tested like a top-tier athlete. We protect our rookie QB here with a guy who I feel like could wind up being a steal in the third round and a starter for years to come.
When watching offensive lineman, it’s pretty simple for me. Ask, does he get guys blocked? That’s the case with Smith. It may not always look pretty, but this isn’t a beauty pageant. Smith also has experience at both guard and tackle.
I’m betting on Smith receiving quality coaching to coach up his physical gifts. He’s too good to let slide any further here, and I’m already confident he’s an upgrade over Daniel Brunskill. Smith looks to find work in pass protection when he’s uncovered and has the athleticism to stay in front of defenders.
No. 117 – WR, D’Wayne Eskridge, Western Michigan
Cornerback is a more pressing need, but Eskridge falling to the fourth round. The Niners get an explosive wideout who is terrific after the catch and an absolute blur when the ball is in his hands.
Eskridge played on the outside in college, but at 5’8 190 pounds, he may have to slide into the slot in the NFL. Kyle Shanahan and Mike McDaniels can scheme around Eskridge’s size and use him on the move to keep him clean off the line of scrimmage.
While strength is an issue, playmaking is not. Eskridge can take a slant or a screen and turn that into a big play. He did so consistently, as Eskridge averaged over seven yards after the catch this past season.
Four picks. Four starters.
No. 155 – CB Ambry Thomas, Michigan
Thomas is 5’11 and 191 pounds. He also didn’t play in 2020 but ran a 4.37 40-yard dash and had a 38” vertical at his pro day. Thomas allowed a 49% completion percentage last year on 41 targets with three interceptions and seven pass breakups, per Sports Info Solutions.
Thomas is very good at pinning wideouts to the sideline and playing vertical routes. He’s more of a willing tackler than given credit for, but it’s Thomas’s ball skills that could help him get onto the field right away.
Right away, Thomas would be the best kick returner on the team. He returned kicks early in his career at Michigan and even returned one to the house as a sophomore. Thomas could help on special teams right away.
No. 194 – RB Pooka Williams, Kansas
We’ve used Williams in a couple of mocks. There’s a reason why, as Williams is electric once he gets to the perimeter. He’d be a great third-down back in San Francisco and also gives the team a returner on special teams.
Don’t be fooled by Williams’ size; he can break tackles and run through contact with ease. The more I think about it, the more I wouldn’t be surprised if the 49ers draft a running back earlier than we predict.
No. 230 – CB Tre Brown, Oklahoma
Brown hasn’t looked the same since his knee injury, but we’re in the second round, and he’s an experienced cornerback who could provide value on special teams.
As evidenced by his 4.42 40-yard dash, Brown can run, but he tends to rely on his athleticism too much. At this point in the draft, if he makes the roster, that’d be a win for Brown.