Welcome back to our 2022 Mock Draft Series! We’re coming at you with the San Francisco 49ers’ first four picks through four rounds. The Niners find themselves in a weird place with no first-round selection and a pair of quality quarterbacks on the roster.
First off, the 49ers don’t actually have all too many glaring needs. They have an electric pair of wideouts in Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk, a strong offensive line, and an overall solid defense. The main need for this team is depth.
While Samuel and Aiyuk are both exceptional young receivers, the position is slim pickings after those two. The offensive line is one injury away from nearly falling apart, and the defense is in similar shape. With that said, the Niners are in a position to take players that could start immediately or be projects of sorts.
I made these selections with their limited picks with this in mind. A good balance of boom/bust and players who could step right in and make an impact with Kyle Shanahan.
2.29 (61 Overall)
Jalen Tolbert, WR, South Alabama
Ok, ok, now if you think that selecting a player from South Alabama is off the board a bit; just wait until the next few plays. Jalen Tolbert is a 23-year-old redshirt senior whose tape and combine results jump off the page to me.
Firstly, his 2021 stats are exceptional: 82 receptions for 1474 yards and eight touchdowns. Those numbers earned him 2021 Sun Belt player of the year honors and a chance at getting drafted relatively high in this year’s draft.
His combine tape just adds to that already stellar starting point. He was able to show off his agility and route running to scouts directly, using his quick feet to change speeds at the drop of a hat and make brilliant cuts and turns down the field.
That said there are a few weaknesses to his game. The main con to Tolbert is the drops. His drops are undisciplined at best and show one other weakness. Tolbert at times looks somewhat disinterested, especially when he knows he isn’t getting the ball. However, his improvement in college shows his true level of dedication to the game.
3.29 (93 Overall)
Cole Strange, IOL, Tennessee-Chattanooga
This is another player I would love to see with the Niners. Cole Strange is a bit lean for an NFL offensive guard, but he has a ton of skills to love. Seeing him work under a player like Alex Mack (yes I know Mack is a center) would be a dream.
I say that about Mack because Strange offers a level of versatility that not many other interior offensive linemen can. He can play center, although he isn’t a natural center. He’s an intelligent player who plays with speed and toughness.
All things considered, Strange could still be a project player. He’s underweight for an NFL guard; his anchor is easily moved at times; and, he leans at times, leaving him open to swim moves. Overall, he could certainly end up being a more than solid NFL player.
3.41 (105 Overall)
Zyon McCollum, CB, Sam Houston State
Simply put, Zyon McCollum is an athletic freak. Standing 6’2″, McCollum ran the third-fastest 40-yard dash of all defensive backs at the combine, running a blistering 4.33 second time. His raw speed doesn’t always come across in the film due to some issues with his route coverage, but there are redeeming qualities to his game.
McCollum is a true ball hawk. He has great instincts to make plays on the ball in man coverage and the physicality to back that up. He’s got great size for a potential safety if the switch is needed at the next level.
There are definitely some issues to be resolved in McCollum’s game. He doesn’t always take the best path to follow along with receivers, allowing them the opportunity to make a play towards the ball. His hip swivels also can leave him in vulnerable positions at times. I think McCollum has the skills to pay the bills, but he’ll need some work with coaches at the next level to hone them.
4.29 (134 Overall)
Lecitus Smith, G, Virginia Tech
Lecitus Smith is the biggest project player of these four. He’s currently listed as an average prospect, but he has the capability to become a solid depth piece for a team with an already strong offensive line. Smith is an athletic guard who struggles in run protection but shines in pass pro.
Smith may be relatively short for the position, but he has a wide frame that allows him to extend his arms in quick bursts. He’s got good movement to protect a pocket and to push into the second level when called upon. Sadly, the positives tend to end there for now.
At the moment, Smith has some serious deficiencies in his game. His run-blocking technique is shoddy at best, but that should be coachable. He loses some control through inconsistent hand placement on opponents’ pads. Smith has a path to an NFL career, but he’ll need to put in a lot of work to get to that point.
49ers Draft Review
It appears to just about everyone with a pulse that the 49ers want Trey Lance to be their starting quarterback next season. If they’re going to roll out the red carpet for a youngster with just 71 pass attempts in his career, they are going to need some depth at the positions to protect him. A draft class like this would do just that.
Let me know what you all think of this mock draft and all of our others in the comment section and on Twitter!