Pre-Senior Bowl 7-Round 2021 NFL Mock Draft
- Round 1, Pick 12: Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama
- Round 2, Pick 43: Alex Leatherwood, OT, Alabama
- Round 4, Pick 107: Drake Jackson, OC, Kentucky
- Round 5, Pick 138: Dazz Newsome, WR, North Carolina
- Round 5, Pick 156: Camryn Bynum, CB, California
- Round 6, Pick 169: Richard LeCounte III, S, Georgia
- Round 6, Pick 192: Pooka Williams Jr., RB, Kansas
- Round 7, Pick 202: Jordon Scott, DT, Oregon
49ers 2021 NFL Mock Draft pick-by-pick analysis
Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama
Virginia Tech cornerback Caleb Farley’s tape from 2019 is good enough to be a top-10 pick in and of itself. When that tape is eventually supplemented by how he will test athletically, there will be little doubt he is the first cornerback drafted. This is especially true, considering he’s still only two years into playing cornerback.
The recent conversation surrounding the position is the debate between Surtain and South Carolina’s Jaycee Horn. Who should the 49ers look to as Richard Sherman’s replacement? Horn is a dog. He is a press-man cornerback that wants to punch you in the mouth and then get in your face after the whistle. But if the 49ers continue along the lines of playing many “quarters” and “press bail cover three,” the more conservative route would be to draft Surtain.
Surtain’s style fits better than Horn
Surtain is more the mold of the former NFL great’s son than Horn. His technical proficiency is outstanding. The overt attitude you get from Horn is present at the line of scrimmage with Surtain but in a more controlled package.
The biggest plus with Surtain is coming from the Nick Saban defensive system. The Saban system, much like San Francisco, is primarily a MOFC (middle of field closed) cover three match system. Former Alabama cornerback Trevon Diggs once told me about the sheer size of Saban’s defensive playbook, to my horror.
But it shows that Surtain can handle all the coverage checks necessary to be in the right place at the right time. He might only have marginal long speed, but his physicality, fluidity, and ability to diagnose leverage allow him to flip and carry receivers vertically despite lacking that elite physical trait.
He also possesses the ideal size for a cover three cornerback at 6-foot-2, 200-plus pounds. There will be more secondary scheme fits later in this 49ers 7-round Mock Draft.
Alex Leatherwood, OT, Alabama
In this simulation, the 49ers cannot retain Trent Williams and need a new starting left tackle. Usually, there would be close to no chance of replacing a starting left tackle even early in Round 2, but the 2021 NFL Draft is different. The top of the 2020 class had more blue-chip talent than this year, but 2021 is six to eight players deep at offensive tackle.
However, only a few will eventually become quality starters because of the law of averages, but the ability to take one in a plug-and-play situation is there.
Leatherwood is a bruising blocker in the run game and a sufficient pass protector. He hunkers down against power rushers with relative ease and has enough athleticism to beat most blockers to the set point in most vertical sets. Luckily for him, the 49ers passing attack will work to his strengths (given it remains similar to the current form.) Quick, 45-degree sets and working off play-action is similar to the Alabama passing attack, and that is where he thrives.
In the run game, he’s athletic enough to chop down defenders as the backside blocker in outside zone and can move well enough to work in space as the frontside blocker. He also has experience as a guard, which means if there are struggles at left tackle (or even if they do re-sign Williams), he can play at either guard spot.
Drake Jackson, OC, Kentucky
Getting a player like Jackson in this 49ers 7-round 2021 NFL Mock Draft is a potential steal. This young man is a trash can full of dirt. Jackson’s frame is ready-made for the NFL, and the lack of positional value at center lands him just outside the top 100, despite being someone who can fight for a starting spot as a rookie.
Due to his lack of length and only sufficient athleticism, he seems better suited for a gap/power rushing attack, but the player in a vacuum is worth a higher draft selection, so the value is more than worth it in this instance.
As a pass protector, that guard-level frame helps him “anchor” against power rushes, and his lower body flexibility allows him to re-establish his anchor. He’s lightning-quick from snap to strike, and there were no instances in the tape viewed of egregious off-target snaps.
Dazz Newsome, WR, North Carolina
Enjoy this while it lasts in the simulator because there’s a good chance Newsome is a top-100 pick. However, it also wouldn’t be the first time a media darling wide receiver doesn’t go as high as we believe.
The issue with early 7-round Mock Drafts like this one for the 49ers is the draft values that will change and possibly flesh themselves out over time. Receivers are very much a “flavor of ice cream” deal. They need to fit the system they’re going to. Newsome adds a layer from the slot and is a legitimate three-level threat due to his quickness and speed.
That quickness is perfect for the 49ers. Garoppolo had the second-shortest intended air yards of any quarterback during his time playing in 2020 at 6.2 yards. He trailed only Alex Smith. Newsome’s separation quickness is outstanding, and his ability to get open quickly from the slot allows for easy completions and YAC opportunities. Yet, as we all know, YAC is a mediocre (or young) quarterback’s best friend.
Camryn Bynum, CB, California
Bynum is one of the players in the 2021 class that feels like they’ve played college football for 17 years now. Since his sophomore season, the California cornerback has garnered draft buzz while playing alongside names like Ashtyn Davis and Jaylinn Hawkins. He is another six-foot cornerback that weighs over 200 pounds and is best suited for a cover three role. He’s smooth and transitions well, but his long speed will limit his upside in the league.
He’s played a ton of football for California, and he understands his athletic limitations and works to remain safe in his play style. He won’t get his hands on many passes, but as a depth piece at cornerback, he provides a safe option who can play snaps without killing the defense.
Richard LeCounte III, S, Georgia
Jimmy Ward is a free safety according to the roster. However, he played the same amount of snaps in the box and the slot as he played in the back end. Ward is their all-purpose defender, as he can do a bit of everything. That allows them the freedom to take a true free safety in this 49ers 7-round Mock Draft.
LeCounte is perfect as a cover three safety. He’s incredibly instinctual, and his ball production speaks for itself, and it improved in the five games he played in 2020. He comes from the Kirby Smart system (a Saban mentee) and is best served working in more condensed spaces. His lack of athleticism holds him back from being a highly sought after prospect, but his intelligence allows him to be a spot starter and fight for playing time.
Pooka Williams Jr., RB, Kansas
Williams only realistically fits in a wide zone scheme, and we know Shanahan and company love fast running backs. Oh, and they like cheap backs, too.
He won’t break many tackles, and if he’s contacted at the line, it’s game over. However, if given space, he can slash throw gaps on the outside and has the lateral agility to drive to the cutback in wide zone looks. He can also be used as a weapon in motion and as a receiving back.
Jordon Scott, DT, Oregon
No 49ers 7-round 2021 NFL Mock Draft is complete without a nose tackle. Darrion Daniels and Scott should battle it out for the starting spot alongside Javon Kinlaw.
Scott played a ton of football for the Ducks over the last four years. He never produced at a high level. He lacks the athleticism to make a massive impact from a production standpoint at the NFL level. But he does have value. His sturdy frame and good anchor allows the athletic 49ers linebackers to flow to the football. He most likely won’t sniff the field on passing downs. Yet, getting someone who could give teams snaps this late in the draft is a win.
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