Who 49ers can target in each round of NFL draft, including sleepers originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
The 2022 NFL Draft is here, and the 49ers’ offseason hasn’t gone according to plan.
Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo remains on the roster, for now. Wide receiver Deebo Samuel wants out of San Francisco.
General manager John Lynch was fairly adamant that the 49ers weren’t interested in trading the All-Pro “wide back” when he spoke to the media Monday. If the 49ers change their mind, it likely will happen as the first-round unfolds Thursday. Not before. Not after.
We’re going to go ahead with the assumption that Samuel still will be a 49er come Sunday. If he is traded, I put together a list of wide receiver prospects for the 49ers to target here.
Assuming they don’t trade Samuel, the 49ers enter the draft with nine selections and a few areas of need to address.
Here is the list of the 49ers’ current draft picks:
— Round 2, Pick 61
— Round 3, Pick 93
— Round 3, Pick 105 (compensatory)
— Round 4, Pick 134
— Round 5, Pick 172
— Round 6, Pick 187 (via Denver Broncos)
— Round 6, Pick 220 (compensatory)
— Round 6, Pick 221 (compensatory)
— Round 7, Pick 262 (compensatory)
Below, I’ll go through a few prospects in each round (two, three and Day 3) who the 49ers could target.
Jalen Pitre, S, Baylor
Pitre remains my favorite for the 49ers to select at No. 61.
The Baylor product is a versatile safety who can be lined up at rush end or 15 yards off the ball covering the slot receiver. He’s a good and instinctive tackler who plays the run well. However, Pitre is fast rising and might not be available when the 49ers go on the clock at No. 61.
Jaquan Brisker, S, Penn State
See a theme?
Brisker is another versatile safety who can succeed in any role. He is a sound tackler who has great instincts. Brisker has good range and is a tone-setting defender with plus athleticism. Like Pitre, there’s a chance he won’t make it to the 49ers in the back end of the second round.
Arnold Ebiketie, EDGE, Penn State
Ebiketie had 9.5 sacks and 46 pressures in his lone season at Penn State. He has great initial burst off the edge and excels at gap penetration. He would be a great pass-rush specialist in Year 1 with room to grow into a bigger role for the 49ers opposite Nick Bosa.
Given his impressive traits and high ceiling, it won’t be a surprise if Ebiketie is off the board early in Round 2. But if he slips, the 49ers could pounce.
John Metchie III, WR, Alabama
Whether or not Samuel remains on the roster, the 49ers still need to add another wide receiver who can also serve as insurance if Lynch eventually decides to honor Deebo’s trade demand.
Metchie tore his ACL in the SEC Championship Game, but modern medicine makes that a relative non-factor these days. Metchie is a crisp route-runner with top-level speed and start-stop ability. He’s a big-play threat who excels at breaking tackles. It’s doubtful the 49ers go WR in Round 2, but it’s worth discussing.
Channing Tindall, LB, Georgia
Here’s an underrated player who could be a steal in Round 3.
Tindall was surrounded by a number of elite prospects at Georgia, so it’s easy to dismiss his production as a product of the dominant front that played in front of him. But Tindall is a versatile, aggressive linebacker who can blitz from inside or off the edge, is a solid run defender and can make plays in pass coverage. He could be a core special teams player at first before growing into a starting linebacker next to Fred Warner.
Jelani Woods, TE, Virginia
It’s sleeper time, so let’s start with the 6-foot-7, All-ACC tight end from Virginia.
A former QB, Woods still is new to the tight end position. He has a long frame with 34-inch arms and knows how to use his size to bully smaller defenders. His size and wingspan make him a potential mismatch down the seam. His height and size make him a weapon both in fade routes and slants in the red zone. He needs to become a better route-runner and shore up his blocking, but Woods is full of potential.
Darian Kinnard, OL, Kentucky
The 49ers need to bolster their offensive line depth and Kinnard could be the proper target in Round 3.
The 6-foot-5, 322-pound Kentucky Wildcat started three years at right tackle in Lexington. He has a big frame and long arms, but his lack of lateral quickness means a move inside could suit him better at the next level. Adding an offensive lineman who can play inside or kick out in a pinch is something every team needs, and Kinnard provides value in Round 3.
DeMarvin Leal, DL, Texas A&M
Leal is an edge rusher who many draft experts believe will be better suited as an interior rusher at the next level.
The Texas A&M product is a crafty rusher off the edge who can attack with both power and finesse. Leal doesn’t possess elite quickness which often allows quarterbacks to escape should-be sacks. A five-star prospect with good production (58 tackles, 12.5 for loss with 8.5 sacks last season), Leal could be a Round 3/4 steal who can develop into a monster with the help of Kris Kocurek.
Velus Jones Jr., WR, Tennessee
Speed, vision, balance, YAC.
That’s where Jones excels. Last season at Tennessee, Jones caught 62 passes for over 800 yards, seven touchdowns, and racked up 1,722 all-purpose yards. He has straight-line speed and lateral speed which allows him not to lose a step when running routes. Most of his targets came within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage as he wasn’t asked to run a very diverse route tree at Tennessee. Jones, 25, spent six years in college between USC and Tennessee which likely will give some teams pause.
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But his speed and explosiveness have seen him start to creep up draft boards and he could be another nice weapon for Kyle Shanahan to put in the arsenal for Trey Lance.
Mykael Wright, CB, Oregon
Wright is a good cover corner who lacks the size and length to play outside on Sundays. He’ll have to be an inside-only corner in order to succeed in the NFL. Still, Wright has a high football IQ, is sticky in man coverage and great in zone, and has great ball skills. The lack of versatility and NFL size will see him fall to the later rounds, but there’s reason to believe he could be a solid slot corner eventually for the 49ers. Has drawn comparisons to K’Waun Williams.
Dohnovan West, IOL, Arizona State
With the uncertainty surrounding Alex Mack’s future, the 49ers likely will look to draft a center at some point.
West, a three-year starter for the Sun Devils, is a tad undersized but offers the ability to play both center and guard. A high-IQ player with a good understanding of angles, West would be best suited for an offense like the one Shanahan runs in Santa Clara. Feels like we can almost put this one in ink if the 49ers don’t address the need on Day 2.
Ty Davis-Price, RB, LSU
Davis-Price is a big, explosive back with good acceleration and cutting ability. He was inconsistent at LSU, but he has the athletic ability and upside to make him a potential steal on Day 3 of the draft. If anyone can find sift through the assortment of running backs and find a winner late in the draft, it’s Kyle Shanahan.
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