49ers Four Round Draft Preview


The 2015 NFL draft is of the utmost importance to the entire San Francisco 49ers organization, but in particular it is a pivotal point in the tenure of General Manager Trent Baalke. Baalke has outlasted his foes within the organization and is now the unquestioned boss. Owner Jed York might sign the checks, but Baalke is the person who calls the shots in all matters relating to football. This off season has seen a great deal of upheaval and, for good or bad, the eventual results will be attributed directly to Baalke. The overhaul is almost complete, with only the draft remaining as the final piece of the puzzle.  So far this year the 49ers have lost several players who were key contributors in recent seasons. Baalke’s philosophy is strongly focused around building through the draft. Over the next three days the 49ers have a chance to fill the holes left by departed veterans as well as add players who can step in to replace the team’s pending free agents in 2016 and 2017.


First Round:

(Trade 15th pick to Carolina for 25th pick & 57th pick)

Jaelen Strong WR Arizona St.

Why the 49ers make this pick: 

Trent Baalke loves to stockpile draft picks and he also loves to trade those draft picks. The 49ers made 12 draft picks last year and 11 in 2013. Entering the 2015 draft Baalke “only” has nine picks, but more importantly the only extra picks are in the fourth and seventh round. This year’s draft is loaded with outstanding prospects who are slotted in the late first and throughout the second rounds at positions of need for the 49ers. The top three wide receivers (Amari Cooper, Kevin White & Devante Parker) will most likely be gone well before the 15th pick. The 49ers go wide out late in the first as most of the receiver’s that could be available in the second (Devin Smith, Sammie Coates, Phillip Dorsett) are much too similar to the newly acquired Torrey Smith. Smith is going to eat up far too much of the salary cap over the next five years to spend a first round pick on a player with his exact skill set.

As far as Strong goes he has the potential to be Anquan Boldin 2.0. Speaking of Boldin, he will be 35 at the end of this season and will also be a free agent. Strong steps in to fill Boldin’s shoes after spending a year learning from the master. He will be the ideal tough possession receiving compliment to the burner on the other side of the field. The receiver position is set for the next five years.

What the experts say:

“Strong looks the part of a physical, possession receiver with a relatively high floor.” Lance Zierlein NFL.Com

“What’s interesting with Strong, especially given his size and style of play, is that you can make the case that we was at his best from the slot, averaging 4.06 YPRR against teams from the Power Five conferences, the highest average of all draft eligible receivers. He doesn’t possess the quickness that you’d expect, but does meet the criteria of a “big slot” receiver in the same way that a player like Anquan Boldin does in the NFL.”  Pro Football Focus

“A master of the contested catch, Strong is an Alshon Jeffery clone: a big receiver without great speed but with the hands to be a star.”  Matt Miller Bleacher Report

Second Round

46th Pick

Jalen Collins CB LSU

Why the 49ers make this pick:

A classic Baalke pick in terms of being a big, athletic corner and a prospect who slipped down draft boards due to character issues. An athletic freak who is still raw as far as experience goes, Collins will join a crowded defensive backfield and be allowed to grow as a player in the 49ers system. If he fulfills his vast potential he could develop into the best corner in this draft.

What the experts say:

“Immensely talented cornerback who brings the entire triangle (height, weight, speed) with him. Collins is a work in progress, but his physical and play traits create a very high ceiling if he continues to learn to play the position.”   Lance Zierlein NFL.Com

“Prototypical size in terms of height, weight and length. Possesses tools that cannot be taught such as very good long speed and overall athleticism.”  Brandon Thorn CBS Sports.Com

Second Round

57th Pick

Stephone Anthony ILB Clemson

Why the 49ers make this pick:

The 49ers are suddenly extremely thin at the ILB position. Anthony steps in and immediately challenges incumbent Michael Wilhoite for playing time as well as adds insurance for any unexpected setbacks suffered by Navorro Bowman. ILB has developed into the defensive equivalent of the running back in terms of being devalued in recent years. Despite this, the 49ers ILB position is lightweight enough entering the draft that a second round pick is definitely justified this year.

What the experts say:

“After a strong senior campaign, Anthony stood out at the week of practice at the Senior Bowl, then blew up the Combine, testing well across the board. Seen by many as a prototypical MIKE before that workout, his high test scores may allow him to play WILL as well. A smart, high-character player with great potential as a three-down linebacker at the next level, Anthony could be an early starter for the team that drafts him.”  Greg Cosell NFL Films

An easy-moving linebacker who jumped off the field at the Senior Bowl and quickly made an impact, Stephone Anthony looks like an NFL starter on the hoof. He has an athletic, solid build backed up by impressive agility and speed. He’s a producer as a tackler and shows the lateral ability to make plays outside the tackle box. He’s smooth enough as a mover to play well in coverage and can lock up tight ends or jam slot receivers. Coaches rave about his work ethic.”  Matt Miller Bleacher Report

Third Round

79th Pick

Hau’oli Kikaha OLB Washington

Why the 49ers make this pick:

Baalke grabs what could be the best pure pass rusher in the entire draft. Justin Smith replacement Henry Anderson is very, very tempting here but Baalke can’t pass up a pass rusher. Sort of an OLB version of Chris Borland in terms of not being the biggest or most athletic prosepct, Kikaha put up huge numbers in his college career, setting the school record for sacks. Initially will be a rotational pass rusher, but could be a replacement for Aldon Smith in case Smith leaves in free agency after this year

What the experts say:

“Kikaha is the most accomplished pure pass rusher in this draft class. Relies on a relentless motor off the edge more than athleticism. He has an elite determination to get to the quarterback. While he seems to specialize in just rushing the passer, Kikaha has the power, hands and frame to improve against the run. It might take some work to get fully comfortable as a stand-up 3-4 OLB, but Kikaha is a very safe draft prospect as long as his medicals check out” Lance Zierlein NFL.Com

“Plays assignment sound football with elite effort and competitiveness. Fiery, pesky motor that simply doesn’t quit…one of the most accomplished and talented pass rushers in the 2015 draft class. He does a great job winning the edge and closing down the pocket with arc speed and outstanding effort in pursuit, making plays most others don’t because of his pure hustle and competitive drive”  Dane Brugler  CBS Sports.Com

4th Round

126th Pick

Jeff Heuerman TE Ohio St

Why the 49ers make this pick:

While the 49ers appear to have a full house at the TE postion, there are also several question marks. Vernon Davis is entering into the last year of his contract. Vance McDonald has been a stellar blocker so far, but the team will want to see more offensive production out of McDonald in 2015. Heuerman provides insurance if Davis leaves and/or if McDonald never reaches his full potential.

What the experts say:

“Although his stats don’t look impressive, Heuerman, who didn’t play the sport until high school, is one of the few tight end prospects in the 2015 NFL Draft class with starting potential. Despite the low production as a senior in Columbus, he showed vast improvement as a player with better functional athleticism as a route runner and consistency as a blocker. Heuerman has the versatility to line up inline, backfield and in the slot and should have a much better NFL career than in college if he stays healthy.” Dane Brugler CBS Sports.Com

“A three-down tight end with receiving skills, blocking skills and crazy athleticism, Jeff Heuerman is the ultimate team player. In 2014, he took on a different role as more of a blocker to help a young offense, and did so with a fractured foot. With good speed and agility, Heuerman is a Cover 2-buster at tight end and has the arsenal to work up the field vertically. He does all that’s asked of him and is a favorite of the Ohio State coaching staff. He has the upside to be a better pro than college tight end.”   Matt Miller Bleacher Report

4th Round

132nd Pick

Javorius Allen RB USC

Why the 49ers make this pick:

This draft is very deep at the running back position and Allen is a solid three down running back prospect who is still around at the end of the 4th round. Carlos Hyde is the starter and Allen will join Kendall Hunter, who is coming off of an ACL injury and the aging Reggie Bush in the 49ers backfield.

What the experts say:

“Well-built back with good overall musculature, including thick thighs. Exhibits controlled aggression as a runner, showing the burst to zip through holes and the patience to allow them to develop. Possesses deceptive power and acceleration due to his slashing running style. Runs with good forward lean, initiating contact and showing good leg drive to generate yards after contact. Possesses soft hands out of the backfield and shows the ability to adjust to make tough grabs. Alert, physical pass blocker.” Rob Rang CBS Sports.Com

“He’s not the most physical guy I’ve ever graded, but he’ll pass block and he’s solid is most areas. I have him as my 4th rated back in the draft for what we want.” – AFC running back coach   NFL.Com









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