eDraft will do a series of articles focusing on potential draft picks for each team in the National Football League. It seems to make sense to start with the NFC West as the San Francisco 49ers prepare for the NFC Championship Game later today.
So, let's take a look at our mock draft for San Francisco, who possesses the most draft picks in April's annual event at Radio City Music Hall.
1. Eric Reid, Safety, Louisiana State
Dashon Goldson is set to become a free agent and the 49ers are not in a great salary cap situation. In addition, it will not be difficult to find a safety that has the same coverage ability as Goldson. Reid is one of those prospects that lights up on tape. While the LSU prospect is suspect against the run, he has the coverage ability to go up against elite tight ends at the next level. This is something San Francisco will look at in order for it to be able to utilize NaVorro Bowman and Patrick Willis in a different manner against players such as: Tony Gonzalez and Jimmy Graham.
2. Jordan Poyer, Cornerback, Oregon State
Chris Culliver will be a Pro Bowl player relatively soon and Tarell Brown had a surprisingly good regular season. Outside of that, San Francisco doesn't have a whole heck of a lot here. I can easily see it parting ways with Carlos Rogers after he struggled through the regular year. Either that, or ask him to take a pay cut. Poyer already possesses plus technique on the outside and will be able to come in and make an immediate impact in nickel coverage. In addition, he will help in the return game as San Francisco looks to part ways with Ted Ginn Jr.
3. Brandon Jenkins, Linebacker, Florida State (From the Carolina Panthers)
Aldon Smith is an absolute beast on the outside. He tallied nearly 20 sacks during the regular season in earning his first trip to the Pro Bowl. Meanwhile, Ahmad Brooks is living up to the hefty contract San Francisco gave him. He is a perfect complement to Smith at outside linebacker. That being said, San Francisco doesn't have depth at this position. 2012 draft picks Darius Fleming (injury) and Cam Johnson didn't make impacts during the regular season. Jenkins was considered a first-round prospect prior to missing nearly the entire season for Florida State. He has the speed to get to the outside as an edge pass rusher and can be utilized in those situations early in his career as he adds some bulk.
3. Sylvester Williams, Defensive Tackle, North Carolina
San Francisco finally addresses the defensive line with this pick. Williams has first-round talent, but struggled with consistency in Chapel Hill this past season. He can be utilized as both a defensive tackle and defensive end. Needless to say, the 49ers are going to have to address this position considering Justin Smith is getting long in the tooth and they don't have great depth at either end or tackle.
3. Travis Kelce, Tight End, Cincinnati (projected supplemental selection)
Delanie Walker has struggled with drops this season and may not be back in 2013 as he enters free agency. While San Francisco does have one of the best tight ends in the NFL in the form of Vernon Davis, its offense relies heavily on this position. Expect the 49ers, with a multitude of picks, to address this position in the draft. Kelce is the best blocking tight end in the draft and has a decent skillset as a receiver as well. Look for him to shoot up draft boards with solid offseason workouts.
4. Nico Johnson, Linebacker, Alabama
Johnson was one of the leaders for Bama's vaunted defense during its National Championship 2012 season. While he doesn't stand out as a great middle linebacker prospect, Johnson is coming from a pro-style defense and is about as solid as they come in terms of fundamentals. With Larry Grant set to become a free agent and likely to move on to a starting role somewhere else, San Francisco will look for depth after NaVorro Bowman and Patrick Willis at linebacker.
5. Ryan Swope, Wide Receiver, Texas A&M (From the Indianapolis Colts
A.J. Jenkins didn't make any impact as a rookie during the regular season. He was only active for a couple games and failed to record a single reception. In reality, San Francisco probably reached on the talented but raw wide receiver. It remains to be seen whether he will ever live up to that first-round status. Meanwhile, both Kyle Williams and Mario Manningham are coming off serious season-ending injury. This doesn't even take into account the fact that Randy Moss is set to become a free agent. In addition, we have no idea how the Michael Crabtree sexual assault allegations will play out. Needless to say, wide receiver is an area of concern for Trent Baalke and company. Swope was ultra-productive with "Johnny Football" at A&M this season. With 233 receptions in the last three seasons, he is a solid possession guy.
5. Theo Riddick, Running Back/Wide Receiver, Notre Dame
The best NFL comparison to Riddick probably would be Dexter McCluster, who has been productive with the Kansas City Chiefs when utilized correctly. Considering San Francisco's offensive coaching staff, being utilized the right way won't be an issue for Riddick. He is one of those all-purpose threats on offense, lining up both at running back and wide receiver. In reality, Riddick would add a solid dimension to go along with LaMichael James.
6. Josh Boyd, Defensive Line, Mississippi State (From the Miami Dolphins)
Boyd can play both end and tackle. He has the size and athletic ability to play the run extremely well. While the Mississippi State product does struggle making a consistent push in the offensive backfield, he is a gap filler. This is one of those depth picks that an elite team can afford to make.
6. Tyrann Mathieu, Cornerback, Louisiana State
Prior to his issues at LSU, I didn't have Mathieu anywhere near a first-round prospect. His size and character really does worry me. That being said, those issues are more important when looking at an early-round pick. The former Heisman finalist has solid on-ball skills and can stick with any wide receiver on the outside. He also adds value in the return game.
7. Rodney Smith, Wide Receiver, Florida State (from the Cincinnati Bengals)
In reality, San Francisco is going to go out there in an attempt to find multiple upgrades at wide receiver. Smith is more of a down field threat than Swope, who I have the 49ers taking a bit earlier here. He is about as raw as they come, but has some really solid upside for a seventh-round pick.
7. Dustin Hopkins, Kicker, Florida State
David Akers may have secured his job for the remainder of the playoffs, but he will probably be a cap casualty in the offseason. Meanwhile, San Francisco will have to look to the future at the kicker position. Hopkins is the consensus No. 1 player here.
7. Jordan Rodgers, Quarterback, Vanderbilt (projected supplemental selection)
With Alex Smith on his way out of town, San Francisco will need to acquire a quarterback to go along with Colin Kaepernick and Scott Tolzien. Rodgers is a project-type quarterback that has the necessary skills to be a solid backup in the NFL. This is all San Francisco is looking for here.
7. Dalton Freeman, Center, Clemson (projected supplemental selection)
Jonathan Goodwin has been solid in his first two years with the 49ers, but he isn't getting any younger. San Francisco can afford to spend a pick here on someone that projects to be a starter in the NFL. In addition, Freeman provides depth at guard, if needed.