On Wednesday, general manager Trent Baalke told reporters the 49ers have a certain someone circled on their 2012 draft board. If this player is still available when the 49ers make the No. 30 pick in the first round on April 26, he will be wearing red and gold threads this fall.
Playing his cards close to the vest, Baalke naturally didn’t reveal the name of the targeted prospect. As pundits and writers offer their best guesses as to who the mystery man will be at No. 30, NFL Network draft expert Mike Mayock was the latest to take a stab in Thursday’s nationwide conference call.
But not before giving out a hearty chuckle.
“One specific player at 30, huh?” Mayock said laughing. “You have to kind of look at who’s available versus what their needs are. Stephen Hill would obviously be a wide receiver that could be available. An interior offensive lineman. Could (Stanford guard) David DeCastro slide that far? I doubt it, but he would obviously be a great fit for a lot of reasons.
“Amini Silatolu or Kevin Zeitler – two interior linemen that are kind of ticketed for the top of the second round. Both of them are tough, nasty, physical players that fit what the Niners do.”
Like most others, Mayock thinks the 49ers would be wise to upgrade their depth at the wide receiver and guard positions. Hill has become a hot commodity since measuring at 6-foot-4, 215 pounds and running a 4.36-second, 40-yard dash. According to Mayock, Hill fits under the “boom or bust” category.
“He’s one of the most intriguing players in this draft,” Mayock said. “Because from a height, weight, speed perspective and from a talent perspective, he’s probably a Top 15-type player. I was at his pro day, and what really surprised me for a tall player was his ability to get in and out of breaks. That’s rare to have a guy that big not be stiff. He’s fluid getting in and out of breaks. His hands were good, although he had some key drops last year at Georgia Tech, but he’s a little bit of a lightning rod.”
Silatolu, a Tracy native from Division II Midwestern State College, has shot up mock draft boards recently and could sneak into the first round. Zeitler, meanwhile, is among the latest crop of promising offensive linemen to emerge from the Wisconsin. Though he is a natural guard, Zeitler has also reportedly practiced his skills at center during the pre-draft process.
Regardless of whom the 49ers pick with their first selection, Mayock sounds confident it will be a solid pick. The NFL insider had plenty of praise for Baalke, NFL’s reigning Executive of the Year, after seeing the amount of quality players the 49ers have drafted in the past two years – major contributors like Aldon Smith, NaVorro Bowman and Anthony Davis to name a few.
“From my perspective, Trent Baalke doesn’t get enough credit around the league,” Mayock said. “And the fact this they went 13-3, not only is a testament to Jim Harbaugh and his coaching staff but it has to be a testament to Trent and his personnel staff.
Other notable analysis from Mayock:
– While the Colts have reportedly reached out to Andrew Luck and told him he will the No. 1 pick on April 26, Mayock said he thinks Robert Griffin III, who is expected to be drafted No. 2 by the Redskins, will actually have more success out of the gate. Washington has been busy bolstering its perimeter threats this offseason, including the addition of former 49ers wideout Josh Morgan via free agency.
“On the surface, RG3 has got a better chance to succeed day one,” Mayock said. “Because they went ahead in free agency and signed a couple high-level wide receivers.”
– According to Mayock, 23 quarterbacks have been selected in the first round of the past eight drafts and 15 of them are currently starters. Likewise, 82 quarterbacks have been drafted from the second through seventh rounds in those years and only seven have become starters. Combined with the recent salary cap restrictions, Mayock said the value of quarterbacks has risen.
“From a statistical perspective, you’ve got less than a ten percent chance of drafting a starting quarterback outside of the first round. So I think what’s happening in this quarterback-driven league is we are getting a frenzy towards these top guys and it’s pushing value up. Last year [Jake] Locker went No. 8 and [Christian] Ponder went No. 12; I thought that was too high for both of them.”
– Mayock also weighed in on a pair of local wide receivers, Cal’s Marvin Jones and Stanford’s Chris Owusu, offering different outlooks for each player. While Mayock said he doesn’t think Owusu will be drafted due to concussion concerns, he had good things to say about Jones.
“He’s got good speed, good size. He’s a smooth receiver,” Mayock said. “What I like is he fights for the ball; come back to the football; he attacks the football. I think he’s a good, solid, mid-round receiver and third round pick that ultimately has some upside.”
– Stanford tight end Coby Fleener is another top prospect who has garnered plenty of attention lately. Could he be catching passes from Luck, his college teammate at the next level? Mayock certainly thinks Fleener could be a possibility for the Colts at the start of the second round.
“He would make a lot of sense,” Mayock said.
Tags: Draft, Mike Mayock, Trent Baalke
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