49ers: Mock Draft 2017 Part II Rounds 1-4, Featuring Solomon Thomas DE Stanford

Niners Live is now fully dialed-in and has its focus directed to the 2017 draft which is now less than 30 days away, and having said that, we now bring you: Mock Draft 2017 Part II Rounds 1-4, Featuring Solomon Thomas DE Stanford.

 

As a build up to the draft there have recently been some talks (via Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee) of a possible trade scenario with the Carolina Panthers who currently hold the number eight overall pick. In this mock draft, however, we will assume the 49ers stay put and make our selections based off the best available options at the number two pick.

Niners Live Recently discussed Who’s Your Dark Horse? Featuring “DE Solomon Thomas” and the remix: Fearless Predictions: The 49ers Draft “DE Solomon Thomas.” So, without further ado, with our first-round pick in part II of our mock draft we will pick up right were left off with Mr. Versatility himself.

Round One Pick #2

Solomon Thomas – DE Stanford

Strengths

  • Able to get out of his stance quickly and attack using his skilled and active hands
  • Has great size and complementary speed; able to win with both quickness and power
  • Does not allow blockers to engage him for extended periods easily being able to work

Weaknesses

  • Below average length as a five technique; not enough weight to play along interior
  • At times, plays with inconsistent pad level
  • Tries too much to guess on snap counts (seven off-side penalties in 2016)

Currently ranked as the 2nd overall prospect per CBSsports.com

The 6’3 and 273 lbs. Thomas spent his early years as a youth in Australia before returning to the states to develop into not only one of the top 25 recruits in his high school class, but also one of college’s top defensive linemen. Thomas had 10 sacks, 12 hits, and 22 hurries on 394 pass rush snaps while his pass rush productivity of 9.0 ranks No. 16 among DTs in this year’s draft class. Not to mention 24.5 career tackles for loss. He has the No. 1 run-defense grade (92.0) and No. 6 pass rushing grade (86.9) among FBS interior defensive linemen via (Pro Football Focus). Thomas received multiple All-American honors and won the Morris Trophy as the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year in 2016, and was compared to former 49er great Justin Smith via NFL.com.   

Think Thomas is the same player as DeForest Buckner and Arik Armstead? Think again…. (Via the team’s website).

Danny Kelly, The Ringer: Thomas

“Thomas can align wide in base looks alongside San Francisco defensive linemen DeForest Buckner and Arik Armstead, then bump inside to rush against guards in obvious passing situations.”

Mel Kiper Jr., ESPN: Thomas

“Thomas (6-3, 273) is a different kind of player than the D-linemen the 49ers have taken in the first round the past two years (DeForest Buckner and Arik Armstead); he’ll get after the quarterback from day one.”

Dane Brugler, CBS Sports: Thomas

“Thomas is an excellent football player who adds immediate pass rush help on the defensive line.”

Rob Rang, CBS Sports: Thomas

“Thomas is a disrupting force who has drawn comparisons to Los Angeles Rams star Aaron Donald. He could be the perfect finishing touch for a defensive line currently better prepared to stuff the run than bother rival quarterbacks.”

Could there be a curveball?

Thomas is an athletic pass-rusher who made a name for himself in the 2017 Sun Bowl against North Carolina and saw his stock increase further at the 2017 NFL Scouting Combine, as well as showing off his versatility at a recent pro day. Niners Live feels that if the 49ers do stay put at the number two overall pick that Solomon Thomas would fulfill a pressing need and bring the most value to the table (via the team’s website). However, if they do decide to trade down or go the back route here is who we think would make the most sense.

Reuben Foster – LB Alabama The 6’1 and 245 lb. Foster is currently the 10th overall draft prospect per (cbssports.com) and recently discussed on Niners Live in: Why the 49ers Need to Address the Heir Apparent to NaVorro.  If the 49ers do decide to trade down to pick Foster it is because they are confident that his off-field issues and injury concerns are behind him and will not be a hindrance going forward. “We brought in Reuben Foster,” Lynch said at the NFL owner’s meetings. “He came in, and we had a nice visit with him” (Mercurynews.com).

Per Matt Miller of Bleacher Report, a scouting source said the 49ers are in love with Reuben Foster. Could he fill a hole, Niners Live addressed recently in: Why NaVorro Bowman will be Staying Put as the “Mike” Linebacker and be the perfect complement at the SAM linebacker position or possibly an heir-apparent to Bowman in the future?

Round 2 Pick # 34

Patrick Mahomes – QB Texas Tech

Strengths

  • Great touch and ball placement
  • Has good anticipation on throws and going through progressions
  • Tough competitor, heart of a champion who hates to lose

Weaknesses

  • Footwork needs improvement
  • At times tries to force throws, and throws off balance
  • Not much experience playing from under center

Currently ranked as the 29th overall prospect per (cbssports.com) and third among the QB prospects in the 2017 draft class. Mahomes put up career numbers in 2016 leading the FBS with 421 passing yards per game, 5,052 total, 41 TDs, 10 INTs, and 65.7 completion percentage. “During his recent pro day, the 6’2 225 lb. Mahomes was impressive overall,” per a long-time scout who attended the workout, “and was especially good on the deeper, more challenging throws, including a 75-yard bomb into the end-zone after rolling to his right.”

What’s behind door number two?

Deshone Kizer – QB Notre Dame

Kizer, per cbssports.com, is the 45th overall best prospect and ranked the 4th best quarterback in this year’s 2017 draft. Besides being highly impressive at the NFL scouting combine and “blowing the doors off” in an interview with GM John Lynch, he has clearly set himself apart with his daunting size, coming in at 6’4 and 233 pounds. Kizer, if still available, could end up as a steal for the 49ers with the 34th overall draft pick. However, with the stock rising on quarterbacks as the draft draws closer, look for the 49ers to trade back into the first round to ensure they get their guy.

Interesting to note: Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly says quarterback DeShone Kizer should have stayed with the Fighting Irish for another season rather than turning pro as a redshirt sophomore (via ESPN.com). Let’s not forget John Lynch did say Kizer blew the doors off the interview process (via NFL.com).

Round 3 Pick #66

Amara Darboh – WR Michigan

Strengths

  • Extraordinary hands and an ability to make improbable catches displaying impressive hand-eye coordination
  • Good size, speed, acceleration out of breaks; very good run blocker
  • Diverse and polished in his routes, drives defenders before bursting off his plant foot to keep them off-balanced
  • Runs with purpose after the catch and keeps momentum to absorb contact and shed would-be tacklers

Weaknesses

  • Doesn’t have great breakaway speed; loses focus at times
  • Needs to improve route running to get crisper/cleaner routes

Currently ranked as the 11th best receiver and 93rd best overall in the draft per CBS Sports, the 6’2 and 214 lb. Darboh is a highlight reel waiting to happen. He may not have had eye-popping statistics in his senior season with 52 receptions for 826 yards, but he still managed to average 15.1 yards per catch and seven touchdowns while playing under former 49ers Head Coach Jim Harbaugh’s run-heavy attack.

Many would make a case for a higher rated prospect such as 78th rated overall prospect Juju Smith-Schuster of USC as the two offer very similar physical attributes. However, I would still have to give a slight edge to Amara Darboh at this point in the game. As recently discussed at Niners live in: Who’s Your Dark Horse Wide Receivers in the 2017 Draft? “I’m Going Deep”

Darboh seems to have the best all-around package of speed, size and veteran savvy that would complement what Head Coach Kyle Shanahan’s wants to do in his offense scheme. I mean how could you go wrong with a player who has been compared to former 49ers’ wide receiver Anquan Boldin? Not to mention spending his collegiate career under the tutelage of former 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh who GM John lynch recently reached out to inquiring about some of his prospects for the upcoming draft (per Matt Maiocco).

It’s also important to note that in the last 10 years, no WR drafted from USC in the 1st -3rd rounds have eclipsed the 1000-yard mark in a season with the exception of Steve Smith who amassed 1,220 yards in 2009 with the New York Giants. (Dwayne Jarrett 2007), (Patrick Turner 2009), (Damian Williams 2010), (Robert Woods 2013), (Marquise Lee 2014). Smith Schuster may have the best shot of any to break this mold, however, this is a telling stat that simply should not be overlooked (via Sportsreference.com).

Round 4 pick # 102

Rasul Douglas – CB West Virginia

Strengths

  • Great understanding of timing and spacing, aggressive at the line jamming and disrupting flow
  • Fiery ball skills with above average knack for stealing 50/50 balls away from receivers
  • Physically and mentally tough; competes with a survivor mentality

Weaknesses

  • Stands too upright in his backpedal and transition movements
  • Tendency to hold onto receives downfield drawing a high number of interference calls
  • Struggles at times to find the ball with his back to the quarterback

Projected round 3rd – 4th

The 6’2 and 209 lb. Douglas, currently ranked as the 113th overall prospect and 17th best cornerback, is an impressive athlete with his physical attributes. Although he clearly lacks experience, only starting one season for the Mountaineers, he emerged as one of the Big 12’s best defensive backs during the 2016 season. In 12 starts, he led the FBS with eight interceptions, adding 70 tackles, 16 passes defended, and one forced fumble to earn first team All-Big 12 honors.

Round 4 Pick #133

Anthony Walker Jr – ILB Northwestern 

Strengths

  • Great speed and athleticism; smart player that plays with high football IQ
  • Great ball skills with outstanding field awareness (16 passes defended over last 3 seasons)
  • Shows good core strength when taking on blockers

Weaknesses

  • At times gets stuck on blockerallowing blockers into his frame
  • Need to work on lateral movements; at times appears stiff
  • May be a little heavy and need to lose weight to be more effective

The 6’1” 235 lb. Walker racked up over 100 tackles in 2016 along with 10 tackles for loss, and a team-high four forced fumbles. Walker is currently ranked as the 119th overall prospect and fifth-best inside linebacker by CBS Sports in this year’s draft class. The 49ers drafted their last two impact linebackers Navarro Bowman and Chris Borland with the 91st pick in the 2010 draft and the 77th pick in the 2014 draft respectively.

I leave you with this:

With the upcoming draft less than 30 days away, GM John Lynch and company will have a plethora of important decisions to make after evaluating the nation’s crème of the crop. With a change of culture on the horizon it will be interesting to see what players the 49ers value and what moves will be made to acquire them.

In our original mock draft: 2017 Rounds 1-4, Featuring Jonathan Allen-DE Alabama, Niners Live choose to take Jonathan Allen, who at the time was the best available player to fit the most pressing need. Allen now has injury concerns looming, and since that time Solomon Thomas has proved himself worthy to fill the shoes of a big-time prospect, worthy of a second overall pick.

He has all the athletic ability, versatility and drive to become a highly productive player, and possesses more than enough talent and skill to continue to evolve as a pro. Thomas has climbed up draft boards throughout the pre-draft process, although he was high to begin with. In recent weeks though, he’s gone from a player many were projecting as a mid-first round pick to as high as No. 2 overall.

Note: It’s no secret that the 49ers were horrific at stopping the run in 2016 and surrendering a league high 2,654 yards, which is more than in any other year in the history of the franchise. Shouldn’t it be a no-brainer to grab the best run stuffer in the country? If GM John Lynch and the 49ers new regime want to pass their draft test with flying colors, they should strongly consider starting off on the right foot and drafting Mr. Thomas.

 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, Irvin Johnson Staff Writer at Niners Live. Co-Author, Editor Niners Live.