With the Draft just over the horizon, it’s time to take a detailed look at each team’s acquisitions and losses and gauge a plan of attack for how they should approach the first three rounds of this year’s draft. We’ll start with the lowly Tampa Bay Bucs and work our way all the way up to the Super Bowl Champs in New England. The 49ers are up this Good Friday.
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS
Team Needs: DE, MLB, CB, WR
Free Agent Losses: LB Patrick Willis (retired), LB Chris Borland (retired), G Mike Iupati, RB Frank Gore, CB Chris Culliver, WR Stevie Johnson, DT Ray McDonald, CB Perrish Cox, OT Jonathan Martin (cut), LB Dan Skuta
Free Agent Acquisitions: WR Torrey Smith, RB Reggie Bush, DT Darnell Dockett, CB Shareece Wright, LB Desmond Bishop (resigned), Garrett Celek TE (resigned), Blaine Gabbert (resigned), C Kyle Nelson (resigned), CB Chris Cook (resigned), OT Erik Pears
Potential Round 1 Targets: CB Trae Waynes, WR Jalen Strong, WR Dorial Green-Beckham, WR Breshad Perriman, DE Arik Armstead, CB Jalen Collins, CB Marcus Peters, CB Byron Jones, CB Kevin Johnson
Potential Round 2 Targets: WR Devin Funchess, WR Phillip Dorsett, WR Nelson Agholor, LB Bendardrick McKinney, LB Denzel Perryman, LB Eric Kendricks, LB Stephone Anthony, OLB Shaq Thompson, CB PJ Williams, CB Quentin Rollins, CB Ronald Darby, DE Preston Smith
Potential Round 3 Targets: WR Tyler Lockett, WR Ty Montgomery, WR Stefon Diggs, LB Paul Dwosn, CB Alex Carter, CB Senequez Golson, DE Henry Anderson, DE Za’Darius Smith, DE Danielle Hunter
Plan of Attack: The 49ers suffered many losses this offseason particularily on their defense. Both Patrick Willis and Chris Borland retired leaving a gaping hole in the middle of their defense. While I’m high on the top 4 inside linebackers this year, I don’t believe any of them are worth th 15th pick. That’s okay because the 49ers have plenty of other needs. They still need to find the heir apparent to Justin Smith. So if freakishly sized Arik Armstead is on the board he could be the pick. Armstead stands damn near 7 feet tall and is a pretty good athlete. He’s got a lanky but muscular frame and the 49ers will like that he played the 5 technique at Oregon. If he’s gone the 49ers could go with a corner. They do have some bodies at the positon but the overall talent level of that group could stand to be upgraded. They’d love to see Michigan St.’s Trae Waynes available. He’s got good size, is plenty fast, and is a solid tackler. Chances are he’ll be gone, so then the 49ers could look at receiver or reach for Jalen Collins, or Marcus Peters. Wide receivers the 49ers could take a gander at assuming the top 3 are gone would be Jaelen Strong, Breshad Perriman, or Dorial Green-Beckham. Perriman is the hot name right now after running like Speedy Gonzales at his pro day. The team could buy into the hype and pair him with newly acquired Torrey Smith giving them a set of two explosive deep threats.
Round 2 is likely where the 49ers will find their middle linebacker of the future. Maybe one of the top guys, Benardrick McKinney, Eric Kendricks, or Denzel Perryman fall through the cracks. That really seems unlikely so the name to watch here is Clemson’s Stephone Anthony. Anthony has ideal size standing 6’2 and is plenty athletic. He is strong in all facets of the position, and can cover receivers coming out of the middle. He can be plugged in from day one and could be one of the more productive defensive rookies of 2015. If the linebacker cupboard is picked clean the 49ers could look at a defensvie end like Preston Smith. Or they may take a receiver like Nelson Agholor, or Phillip Dorsett. If they still need a corner plenty of options would be available. PJ Williams, Ronald Darby, and versatile Quentin Rollins could be potential 49ers.
Assuming the 49ers get a receiver and then an inside linebacker in the first two rounds, then they could look for corner help in round 3. One guy they may be interested in is Senequez Golson. He’s undersized but proved to be a playmaker in college hauling in 9 interceptions last season. He’s also not afraid to throw his wee body around to make tackles. The 49ers could look at an end in round 3 as well. Players like Mario Edwards Jr., Danielle Hunter, and Za’Darius Smith could be options. Edwards is interesting because he’s pretty versatile. He’s played 4-3 end, 3-4 end, and a little outside linebacker during his days as a Seminole. Another intriguing target is Kentucky’s Za’Darius Smith. Smith wasa man amongst boys at the East West Shrine game and put himself on the Draft map with his outstanding performance. He’s also got a little experience playing the five technique and could find himself a key part of the rotation early in his rookie season.
view more plan of attacks here