Don't worry A's, Giants and Warriors fans, we'll still be talking plenty of Spring Training talk, as well as discussing the Warriors quandary with the trade deadline on March 15th, but today marks our first real discussion, of the 2012 NFL draft. It's one of the main reasons why I started this blog, to discuss and breakdown player movement with Bay Area sports teams, especially draft coverages and predictions, so we'll be in NFL Draft-heaven between now and actual draft-time come April.
With combine drills going down all weekend and into the early week, I figured now would be as good a time as any to switch gears to the NFL draft, being about a month and a half away. The 49ers currently hold pick 30, but with the way the combine went ( a lot of wideouts ended up with so-so or bad combines) they could end up with a guy they thought would be a top-15 pick at 30. I'd like a top CB like Janoris Jenkins or Dre Kirkpatrick to fall to 30, but I just don't see that happening like I do one of the top-4 wideouts. Namely, Alshon Jeffery. Assuming Michael Floyd and Justin Blackmon are gone within the top-15, the 49ers could have a shot at trading up just a few slots for a real difference maker in Georgia Tech's Stephen Hill. In a purely run-based offense, this guy still put up a nice year as a Junior for GT and was their go-to receiver the last two seasons, so he's no stranger to garnering attention from defenses. Because of that, I find it pretty incredible he did put up almost 820 yards receiving and 5 TD's when your QB throws for a total of 1,600 yards and 11 scores on the year! That's how run-based that offense is, but Hill still managed to get his as the center of attention in the passing game. Cut from the same mold and from the same school as perhaps the leagues best WR in Calvin Johnson, as well as potential 2012 breakout star, Demaryius Thomas.
The other interesting name I'm hearing is Alshon Jeffery, who apparently got himself way out of shape between December and the combine in late February. He apparently added 30 pounds over that time, but weighed in, supposedly, at 219 pounds. Jeffery also didn't interview well, something I could care less about, which supposedly has hurt his stock too. If Hill is gone by 30, and there isn't some difference making corner doesn't fall, then I'd pull the trigger on Jeffery in a second! I know he had a hideous 40-time (supposedly 4.8 clocked 40!), but just look at the numbers the guy put up in a top division for South Carolina. I've seen him play and he's quicker than that and extremely tough to cover, just youtube the guy! He actually reminds me a lot of another SC receiver who had some speed issues coming into the draft and that guy is Sidney Rice. Granted, the wideout has battled some injury in his young career, he's been productive when out there, as evident of his 2011 season for the QB-less Seahawks! I see Jeffery in the same mold, however, if pro-day comes around and he doesn't have his 40 in check, like 4.55 or under, for his size, would be just fine. The dude can jump, has size and catches everything. Coming into the year, he was mentioned in the same breath as Blackmon and Floyd but he got lazy. If the 49ers indeed go defensive back, at that point in the draft, there really aren't many guys worth a late first round selection. There are a ton of 2nd round corners in this draft, but only 4-5 first round-type, instant impact wideout the 49ers need. Hopefully, one will still be there come pick 30!
One mock draft I read the other day has the 49ers selecting Stanford Tight End, Toby Fleener, but I hope they don't go that route. Anyhow, they need a wideout early, and some 2nd rounders could include UNC's Dwight Jones, Miami's Tommy Streeter or if they're lucky, LSU's Reuben Randle.