By now everyone has seen at least one mock draft out there and most of you have probably seen a dozen or at least will before the official NFL draft gets underway next month. Most experts and even non-experts alike have the 49ers, which have the 7th pick in the first round, selecting a defensive player with that pick. The thinking is that they can get a possible shutdown corner in Patrick Peterson from LSU or get a dynamite pass rusher in linebacker Von Miller from Texas A& M or possibly defensive end Robert Quinn from North Carolina. Each of these guys would likely be a great fit for the team and could help either in the secondary which is a weak link or in pressuring the quarterback more effectively which was also a weakness the 49ers defense had this past season.
But what if those guys are already selected by the time the 49ers get their first pick? What if the conventional guys the team is interested in are off the board, who might they select then? Would they look to take the best player available as they did when they drafted Michael Crabtree a couple years ago? Could they make a draft day splash? Well, here are a couple names they might select in the event that a few of those defensive stoppers are unavailable when the 49ers head up to the podium the first day of the draft: Cam Newton, Heisman trophy winning quarterback from Auburn. This past season Newton threw for almost 3,000 yards and 30 touchdowns. The 49ers interviewed Newton at the combine and most scouts and experts alike agree he has one thing if nothing else and that is potential. While initially the thought of Newton in a 49ers uniform playing in a West Coast style offense might not make much sense, there is a chance it could work out. The team is likely going to sign or trade for a veteran quarterback before the season begins, but with the CBA still being negotiated and the chance that the draft occurs before free agency the 49ers might have to draft a QB earlier than anticipated. Also with Harbaugh’s previous success getting the most out of his quarterbacks, who is to say that he couldn’t coach Newton up to par fairly quickly? While this scenario is doubtful, with the uncertainty of this offseason and the 49ers lack of a starter quality quarterback on the roster it is possible.
Another name the team could select that would cause a splash should they be unable to select their primary targets in the draft is A.J. Green , wide receiver from Georgia. Green is ranked consistently #1 among wide receivers in this year’s draft. In only 9 games this past season green had 57 catches, 848 yards and 9 touchdowns. A lot of people would say it doesn’t make sense to draft a receiver that early if you have no one to throw him the ball. They would be right, but Green is said to be a receiver in the Calvin Johnson mold and it is hard to pass up on a player like that if he is available. David Carr could have at least marginal success with the likes of Michael Crabtree, Vernon Davis and A.J. Green catching passes (well maybe not Carr but you get the idea).
The point is that with the #7 pick in the first round the 49ers should be able to tell if they will have at least one of their top targets available when they pick or whether they will have to go in a different direction. Should they do the latter, these are two names that could easily be sitting there waiting if the 6 teams picking in front of the 49ers passed them up and went with some of the defensive players like Peterson, Quinn or Von Miller. What looks wrong can just as easily turn out to be right, and drafting players to play in the NFL is by no means an exact science.