As we are now less than two months away from the 2015 NFL Draft, things are heating up in terms of who teams are most likely to select in the first round and beyond.
The San Francisco 49ers, as you may know, hold the 15th overall pick in the draft, and sit in a pretty flexible position should they decide to trade up for a cornerback, someone like Michigan State’s Trae Waynes, for example, or remain in their slot and elect to get some offensive line help.
The latter seems more likely and this year the 49ers appear to be in luck because there are plenty of quality offensive tackles in this year’s draft class. Unfortunately for the 49ers, who will likely part ways with free agent guard Mike Iupati, there aren’t many guards worth drafting in the first round, with only Iowa’s Brandon Scherff coming to mind at the moment.
But one player that is likely to still be there at 15 for the 49ers is Oregon offensive tackle Jake Fisher. Fisher, who measured at 6’6” and 306 lbs. at the NFL Combine in February, has been flying under the radar of many teams, but given his talent level, it’s likely that teams will begin to take notice very soon.
While ideally Fisher should add five to ten pounds to his frame, he is very athletic and has great technical abilities when handling opposing pass rushers. Many early reports indicated that Fisher was not athletic enough to handle elite pass rushers at the NFL level, but he scored in the 100th percentile in the 20-yard shuttle at the combine and 99th percentile in the three-cone drill, so Fisher has plenty of athleticism. Another positive, which is evident on tape, is Fisher’s natural knee bend and ability to turn pass rushers around and steer them away from the quarterback.
On the other hand, Fisher does forget to move his feet sometimes and can get thrown slightly off balance as a result, but nonetheless his athleticism seems to make up for these faults. Furthermore, forgetting to move the feet and sliding ability are both technique issues, which Fisher can learn under 49ers offensive line coach Chris Foerster.
Fisher actually compares favorably to Atlanta Falcons offensive tackle Jake Matthews, who was drafted sixth overall last year. Matthews did struggle in his rookie season, but he was also hampered by injuries.
The 49ers also have other positions of need, like cornerback and wide receiver, but this year’s cornerback class is nowhere near as solid as last year’s. Of course, there will be plenty of talented receivers available for the 49ers with the 15th pick, but Fisher might be the team’s best option nonetheless. While the 49ers do have Joe Staley and Anthony Davis at the tackle positions, Staley is already 30-years-old and is scheduled to earn a base salary of $4.5 million next season. Fisher would be a nice replacement, and while Fisher doesn’t have the ideal weight to play guard, he is agile enough to make the transition and can easily add 10-15 pounds.
The 49ers could opt to select another offensive lineman, such as Miami’s Ereck Flowers, who is also highly thought of in scouting circles, but Jake Fisher’s value at 15th overall might be too good to pass up for San Francisco.