Attention, other 15 teams in the NFC: Do not let Jerry Jeudy make his way to the 49ers.
That essentially was ESPN NFL analyst Dan Orlovsky’s take when it came time to discuss San Francisco’s selection during Mel Kiper Jr.’s televised mock draft Tuesday.
— Nick Wagoner (@nwagoner) March 24, 2020
Kiper released his NFL Mock Draft 3.0 earlier Tuesday — his first since before the NFL Scouting Combine and first since the opening of free agency — in which he projects all 32 first-round picks of the upcoming 2020 NFL Draft. The 49ers picked up an additional first-round selection in the DeForest Buckner trade with the Colts, and Kiper has San Francisco using it on the same player that would create a nightmare scenario for the rest of the NFC in Orlovsky’s estimation.
While Buckner’s departure creates a hole in the middle of San Francisco’s defense, Kiper believes Jeudy would fill a more pressing need.
«San Francisco could use the pick for a straight replacement for Buckner at defensive tackle — if [South Carolina defensive lineman] Javon Kinlaw drops out of the top 10, he could do damage in the middle of its defense — but I see wide receiver as a higher priority, particularly after Emmanuel Sanders walked in free agency,» Kiper wrote. «Adding Jeudy, who caught 77 passes for 1,163 yards and 10 TDs last season, to a group with Deebo Samuel and Kendrick Bourne makes this a really exciting (and young) trio of wideouts for Jimmy Garoppolo.»
NBC Sports’ Dalton Johnson and Josh Schrock recently released an updated mock draft in which San Francisco ended up with a different wide-receiver prospect, Henry Ruggs, who just happens to have been Jeudy’s teammate at Alabama. In that mock, both Jeudy and Oklahoma’s CeeDee Lamb had each come off the board in the two picks prior to the 49ers’.
As things currently stand, San Francisco would not pick again until the fifth round following its second first-round selection — No. 31 overall — and for that reason, Kiper has the 49ers as potential trade-down candidates. He doesn’t project trades in his mock drafts, however, so at No. 31, Kiper has San Francisco addressing the secondary with the selection of Auburn cornerback Noah Igbinoghene.
«With DeForest Buckner gone, I thought about defensive tackle, but they still have some talent there with former top-five pick Solomon Thomas moving inside permanently,» Kiper wrote. «[Texas A&M defensive lineman] Justin Madubuike could be an option. But corner is a more pressing need, and you only have to watch Super Bowl LIV to see that. Richard Sherman, who turns 32 later this month, is only signed through 2020, and the Niners don’t have a set No. 2 corner. Igbinoghene, a track athlete who is still raw, is my third-ranked corner, and he could also help as a return man.»
Ahkello Witherspoon and Emmanuel Moseley each served as San Francisco’s No. 2 cornerback at different periods of last season, but just like Sherman, neither of them are signed beyond 2020. As such, Igbinoghene would provide the 49ers with both youth and some long-term security at the position — provided that he lived up to his selection.
While Kiper has San Francisco foregoing Buckner’s position with both first-round draft picks, Johnson and Schrock didn’t afford the 49ers that luxury. At No. 31 overall, they had the Niners selecting Oklahoma defensive tackle Neville Gallimore, who ran a 4.79 40-yard dash at 304 pounds at the combine.
Which prospects the 49ers select — and when — remains to be seen. But, in the meantime, it would appear a consensus as to which positions they’re targeting is being formed.
Mel Kiper NFL mock draft 2020: 49ers land Jerry Jeudy, pick cornerback originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area