Thursday, April 23, 2015

The NFL: The 2015 Draft (49ers & Texans analysis)

When it comes to the NFL I am a supporter of one team (the San Francisco 49ers) because I grew up a fan of them (No, not Joe Montana, Ronnie Lott was my favorite) and pull for another team (the Houston Texans) because they are my home-town team.  Prior to the Texans I was a supporter of BOTH the 49ers AND the Houston Oilers.  When the Oilers left town my football loyalty to Houston sort-of relocated as well.  I pull for the Texans because I'm forced to watch them almost every week (I don't have Direct TV and refuse to get it just so I can get the NFL package) and I do like some of the players. (Formerly Johnson and Watt, now mainly just Watt).

If you're still keeping up with me after all of those parentheticals then I think it's time to take a quick peek at the draft for both teams.  It should be noted here that I think, in all cases, NFL mock drafts are bunk. They're the attempt of middling sports personalities to try and outthink teams and GM's who spend months analyzing the players, interviewing them, doing background research etc.  My biggest problem with the mock drafts of the so-called 'experts' is that quite often, when teams deviate from them, the drafts are considered a "bad draft" and fans go nuts over stuff they don't understand. As an example of this, JJ Watt was booed by Texans fans on draft day and his selection was met with indifference by most (not all) sports-talk, mock-drafting personalities.

Still, if you must have it, you can find the NFL.com 'experts' mock-drafts here. Including one from a Houston talk radio personality for whatever worth you place on that.  So, with out further ado, here's where I see each teams needs for the Draft as well as some potential players they might target with their first round picks.

49ers. (15th Pick)

Needs: Defensive Backfield, Wide Receiver, Linebacker, Defensive Line.

This team has been decimated in the off-season with retirements and free agency losses. What was once among the most talent-laden, and deepest, rosters in the league is suddenly showing some gaping holes that GM Trent Baalke is going to have to try and address in the NFL Draft.  Most pundits are suggesting that the 49ers will select Oregon DE Arik Armstead in the first round and I think that makes some sense. The 49ers desperately need another edge rusher to complement Aldon Smith and Armstead would be a good fit. If they don't go edge rusher then I expect them to look at either UCF WR Breshad Perriman or, if available, UCONN CB Byron Jones. Marcus Peters (CB Washington is a remote possibility but I think he would be very over drafted here. One player that I think the 49ers might be looking strongly at is Missouri DE Shane Ray. Most mock drafts have him going at #16 to the Texans but I could see Baalke snapping him up the pick before.  I don't see the 49ers selecting a WR here because all of the top guys should be long gone by this time, and this is a deep WR draft which offers potential in the 2nd and 3rd rounds to grab a good #2 or #3 receiver.


Texans (16th Pick)

Needs: Quarterback, Wide Receiver, Offensive Tackle, Tight End, Cornerback.

As I stated earlier, a lot of people see the Texans getting Shane Ray and, if he's still available, I think this is a good slot and a good situation for him to go.  That said, if someone in front of the Texans takes Ray I think the team could be facing someone of a mess.  Airk Armstead doesn't fit the 3-4 defense the Texans like to play and I think most of the 1st round worthy OT's could be gone.  If available, a good pick for them would be Andrus Peat (OT - Stanford) but I don't see him being available at #16.  Byron Jones should be there, but I'm not sure if the Texans will decide he's good enough value at that slot.  The experts are all over the place, local Lance Zierlein has the Texans taking the aforementioned Breshard Perriman, but picks vary wildly from Nelson Agholar (WR-USC) to CB Jones to (unlikely) RB Todd Gurley) I also like Miami Offensive tackle Ereck Flowers and LSU OT La'El Collins here for the team. Amazingly, NFL.com analyst Charlie Casserly has La'el falling to the Broncos at #28. I don't see any way that happens.

If I had to guess, right now, I'm expecting both of the teams I support to panic at their spots and make reach picks.  The 49ers have been deluged with negative press since last year and the Texans GM Rick Smith is desperate to make a splash and prove that he's not overmatched for the job. It wouldn't shock me to see the Texans reaching to grab Breshard Perriman and Zierlein predicts and it wouldn't shock me to see the 49ers reach for Byron Jones.

One thing is for sure, for both of these teams the 2015 NFL Draft is going to be a pivotal moment in their teams development. After hitting on several drafts Baalke needs to prove that he knows what he's doing firing Harbaugh and bringing in relatively unknown Tomsula to coach the team. Rick Smith still needs to prove that he understands the talent evaluation part of the game and cannot (in my opinion) afford to whiff on another draft as he has more often than not in the past.

The draft is a week from today, and Tampa Bay is on the clock.

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