2017 Draft: Day Three Picks, Rounds 5-7, Featuring George Kittle Tight End Iowa

Niners Live continues our complete mock draft coverage by covering the Day 3 picks General Manager John Lynch should make to fill out the 2017 roster. The 49ers have five picks on the third day. We will make those picks and sign an undrafted free agent in: 2017 Draft: Day Three Picks, Rounds 5-7, Featuring George Kittle Tight End Iowa.

 

 

Forty Hall of Fame Players were drafted after the fourth round, will General Manager John Lynch uncover one this year? The third day of the draft is mainly about building depth and special teams while trying to find hidden gems that can make a roster more salary cap flexible. Finding a hidden gem on the third day means a team now has a starter being paid well below market value for an NFL starter while under their first two contracts. But in most best case scenarios on the third day, teams find solid special team players and high-level developmental prospects. This year’s draft is so deep with defensive talent there will be some offensive fourth (and one or two third) round talents that fall to Lynch increasing his possibility of finding a hidden gem or two, and possibly a future Hall of Famer.

On February 16, 2017, Niners Live brought to you: Who’s Your Dark Horse? Featuring “DE Solomon Thomas” and on March 20, 2017: Fearless Predictions: The 49ers Draft “DE Solomon Thomas” on April, 6, 2017, and discussed the first four rounds in: Mock Draft 2017 Part II Rounds 1-4, Featuring Solomon Thomas DE Stanford and on April, 10, 2017, Familiarity: DC Robert Saleh Needs a Violent Disruptor, “Solomon Thomas.” Please refer to these articles for insight on the first two days of the draft and the player we envision completing what will become the best defensive line in football over the next 10 years.

Round 5 Pick #146

George Kittle – TE Iowa (CBS Sports Proj. Round 3-4)

Honorable Mention All-Big Ten 2016

Strengths

  • Plays in pro-style attack
  • Approaches blocking like an offensive lineman with good pad level and strikes with leverage and hands inside opponent’s frame
  • Hands are confident with just one drop against 48 catches
  • Flashes vertical speed to become a seam worker

Weaknesses

  • Could generate better separation with improved route leverage
  • Plays fast, but seems to be missing separation burst coming out of his breaks

Has a tendency to keep weight too far forward as run blocker creating an opportunity for a defender to pull him off-balance.

“Impressive workout for Iowa TE George Kittle,” tweeted ESPN writer Matt Bowen, a former Iowa and NFL safety. “Good footwork at the top of the route in position drills. Has the size (6-foot-4, 247 pounds) and technique to impact the run game as blocker. Will also have special teams value as a rookie.”(www.hawkcentral.com).

First pick, Day 3, and the Gem falls to Lynch and Company!!! Championed by Pro Football Focus as “the best all-around TE in college football as we head into the fall”. I 2016, Kittle graded out as the top overall tight end returning and the fifth-highest graded run blocking and sixth highest pass catching tight end returning for 2016. At 6’4” 235 lbs., he shows that by using his leverage he can block with as much physicality as someone 30 pounds heavier. “I’ve had to talk about outside and inside zone with some coaches and I can draw those in my sleep,” Kittle said at the Combine. Hopefully one of those coaches was Kyle Shanahan (NFL.com).

Round 5 Pick #161

Jeremy McNichols– RB Boise State (CBS Sports Proj. Round 4-5)

All-Mountain West Second-Team 2016

Strengths

  • Can shift rush tracks without tapping brakes; flexible hips allow for multiple jump cuts and direction changes up to second level
  • Great vision and quick to process field in front of him
  • Can be split out and work down the field
  • Anticipates flow of second level defenders and responds accordingly

Weaknesses

  • May not have lower body power to be NFL tackle-breaker
  • Needs to do a better job of protecting ball at impact (8 Fumbles last 2 seasons)
  • Can be spotty in his protection

Niner’s Live Editor’s Draft Crash. Instantly walks into camp and challenges for a role in three areas; the third down running back, slot receiver, and kick returner. In the final season, 2,225 all-purpose yards (138 rushing yards per game, 474 total rec yards). A bigger version of recently re-signed DuJuan Harris ( 1-year deal) who running back coach Bobby Turner will teach to read the front side of the Outside Zone, and when seeing the hole can explode through it, or can put his foot in the ground and cutback against the defense and slice defenses.

Round 6 Pick #186

Josh Harvey- Clemons S Louisville (CBS Sports Proj. Round 6)

All-ACC Second Team 2016

Strengths

  • First responder who races downhill into the action
  • Takes on blocks with aggressiveness and leverage
  • Flips hips for instant change of direction as tackler or in coverage
  • Balances attention between quarterback’s eyes and assignments around him

Weaknesses

  • Needs more discipline in playing with inside-out leverage in run support
  • From single-high position, needs anticipation and earlier response to throws
  • Needs to trust his length and recover speed more often

Number one linebacker coming out of high school. Enrolled early at Georgia and played well for two seasons before being dismissed after which he began a career at Louisville. Came to Louisville and instantly became a factor for the defense, earning an all-conference honorable mention in the first season with the team and first season in the defensive backfield. Solid tackler who can step in and help on special teams while bulking up in the weight room and learning the Kam Chancellor role under DB Coach Jeff Hafley (NFL.com).

At 6’4” 228 lbs., Josh Harvey-Clemons looks like the next defensive “eraser” Rob Rang of (cbssports.com).

Area of concern- “I love the athlete and the toughness, but he’s a multiple-time (drug) tester on the college level. Those guys have a high rate of testing positive again. I need to do more background work on him, but I really worry about suspensions for him” — AFC North area scout.

Round 6  Pick #202

Zane Gonzalez  – K Arizona State 

First-Team All-American 2016

Strengths

  • Powerful lower body with good trajectory on long-distance kicks
  • Continued to add size and leg strength
  • Kicks have desired end over end rotation
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder creates an orderly approach

Weaknesses

  • Past 2 seasons allowed three kick returns for touchdowns
  • Short-legs, shorter kicks, leading to some inconsistencies with his short accuracy
  • Kickoff hang-time was slightly below average

FBS record holder with 96 made field goals, while having an 83 percent accuracy rate. He made 23 of 25 field goals in 2016, including 7 of 9 from 50 yards plus. Seventy-five percent of kickoffs resulted in touchbacks. Ready to come into camp and compete for role as a starter. Winning job in San Francisco will allow for the team to have specialist roles satisfied for next decade, with Punter Bradley Pinion still under his first contract. Kickoff ability will allow Pinion to focus on punting (NFL.com).

Round 7 Pick #219

Freddie Stevenson – FB Florida State (CBS Sports Proj. Round 5-6)

Reese’s Senior Bowl Invitee 2016

Strengths

  • Athletic lead blocker who has an ability to lead the charge on outside zone plays
  • Possesses an aggressive field demeanor and a good radar to land strikes in space
  • Drives feet through contact and can attack on angles for kick-out blocks
  • Special Teams Ace

Weaknesses

  • Lacks third down value
  • Limited reps in pass protection and very few catches
  • Can be stuffed to ground when launching into defender’s legs too early in space

A four-star linebacker coming out of high school. Enrolled early and switched positions to fullback but used his linebacker mentality to become a key special teams player for the Seminoles. With only one fullback on the roster, can be developed as an insurance policy for Kyle Juszczyk. Paved the way for Dalvin Cook to rush for 1.691 yards in 2015. Can earn his roster spot each year by becoming the cornerstone for the special teams’ return and coverage units for years to come. Showed short yardage ability with three 1 yard touchdowns in 2016. Added career-long 38 yard run against #3 ranked Clemson, who went on to win NCAA National Championship (Seminoles.com).

Undrafted free agent:

Once the draft concludes, every NFL team begins the scramble to sign players who didn’t hear their names called during the draft as Undrafted Free Agents. Niners Live will give you two players who may fall through the cracks and be available for Lynch to add to the roster. Now don’t discount these players as camp bodies as Tony RomoAntonio Gates, and James Harrison were Undrafted Free Agents. Not to mention Hall of Famers Warren MoonKurt Warner, and 49ers own Joe Perry.

Ethan Cooper – OG Indiana (FA) 

All-American

Strengths

  • Shows ability to adjust to moving targets on the second level
  • Big NFL-caliber frame
  • Good football intelligence with an understanding of defensive concepts
  • Runs his feet through contact looking to turn opponent out of the hole

Weaknesses

  • Needs to work to keep pad level lower
  • Lack of bend and a little bit of a narrow base prevent him from getting as much drive at the point of attack as he should
  • Will take time to adjust to NFL level of competition

Developmental project player with a full complement of NFL tools. Most of his first year will be adjusting to NFL size and caliber players or showing he can handle them. Decent athleticism for size which is a true NFL frame. Day 3 player who can develop into a solid starter. Experience at both guard and tackle spots. Pass Protection will be a process as coming from a D2 spread system where the quarterbacks were not required to take NFL type drops. In drills and one one one periods, during appearances at the NFLPA Game and NFL Combine, Cooper showed scouts and general managers that he can fit in and look the part of an NFL lineman. Best case Cooper becomes a backup lineman and special teams’ player while he develops into a starter at right guard in the next year or two (NFL.com).

Max Halpin – C Western Kentucky

All-Conference USA First Team 2016

Strengths

  • Very quick off the snap, into position quickly to make the difficult reach blocks required in a zone scheme
  • Good angles on pull blocks
  • Good awareness and minimal mental errors
  • Ranked eighth in the draft class with a run-block success percentage of 91.4%

Weaknesses

  • May be scheme-limited at the next level
  • Can stop feet upon contact
  • Struggles at times to find the ball with his back to the quarterback

Set the run blocking schemes and pass coverage assignments on the offensive linebased on defensive fronts, for the fifth-ranked offense in the country. Under Halpin’s watch, the Hilltoppers averaged 336.8 passing yards, 186.4 rushing yards per game, and gave up only 1.57 sacks per game. Can develop into starter behind trade pickup and 10-year veteran Jeremy Zuttah (NCAA.com).

I leave you with this:

Day 3 of the draft is the Grind of the Draft, where the scouting and personnel departments show their worth. Players with more work required in their evaluations are left on the board and the picks must be made quicker. Small school prospects, specialists, deep developmental prospects and those with red flags are a majority of the players who are drafted in the later rounds of the draft. With up to 253 players set to be drafted in this year’s draft, General Manager John Lynch will rely on evaluations made from even the lowest levels of the teams scouting rings.

With Niners Live “Mock Draft 2017 Part II Rounds 1-4, Featuring Solomon Thomas DE Stanford” filling the needs of the team with impact players and week 1 starters, the goal was to find players that the team can develop into solid role players and contribute immediately on special teams. Although the Round 5 picks George Kittles and Jeremy McNichols should be able to carve out a role on offense and special teams, respectively. Just like a fourth quarter is the defining moment in winning on Sundays, the third day of the draft is the defining moment for creating a roster capable of competing during the fourth quarter on Sundays.

As always, keep your eyes wide open, 49er fans. Niners Live will be watching with you. #eyeswideopen and often imitated but never duplicated… Go Niners.

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All records, statistics, and accolades are courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference.com, Pro Football Focus49ers.com, ESPN.com, NFL.com unless otherwise indicated. Author, Edward Erving new Staff Writer at Niners Live, Co-Author, Editor Niners Live.

 

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