Hawk unlikely to be there when 49ers on clock

A little more than two weeks remain before NFL draft weekend and the talk is really heating up. Who are the hot prospects on the rise and which direction are teams looking? What about the remaining free agents? Here's a look at the latest insider news, which indicates Ohio State linebacker A.J. Hawk isn't going to be on the board long once the draft begins April 29 in New York City.

After his Pro Day at the start of March we reported several teams moved Hawk near the top of their draft board.

Several franchises now rate him as the top defensive player in this draft. This holds true in multiple NFL camps as teams with early selections such as the New Orleans Saints have Hawk rated as the second best player on their draft board.

Yet, the dilemma remains: Do you take a linebacker with the second pick of the draft when an offensive tackle and defensive end of almost equal grade are also available?

It is a tough call for the Saints. As a result, expect them to use all their allotted time in Round One attempting to trade down.

Where will Hawk end up? It now is almost certain that he won't get past the Green Bay Packers at the No. 5 slot. Don't be surprised if the Jets scoop him up at No. 4.

The 49ers' chances of getting him at No. 6? Slim and none.

--- Haloti Ngata is another player causing a stir.

Teams such as the Philadelphia Eagles and Baltimore Ravens seemed poised to make a move ahead of the Cleveland Browns should the big run-stuffer get past the Buffalo Bills at No. 8. Ngata may not last that long as the Oakland Raiders (who own the No. 7 slot) have shown a lot of interest in the Oregon product recently.

We are hearing the labeling of Ngata not being a defender who plays hard for 60 minutes is a one-sided story.

It seems the staff at Oregon, usually known for "over-coaching" players, went very easy on Ngata the three years he dressed for the Ducks, never pushing the big lineman. In fact, many thought Ngata was babied in Eugene as there was a desire not to over-work the highest-rated high school player to be recruited by the program in some time.

Not to worry, as sources have told us Ngata has done everything asked of him, plus some, in workouts leading to the combine and his Pro Day.

--- Two defensive backs coming off of injuries are shooting up draft boards.

Both Antonio Cromartie and Jason Allen have solidified themselves as first-round choices and may end up in the middle of the frame.

The Chicago Bears are very high on Cromartie, but they think it is entirely possible the Florida State cornerback could be off the board by the 26th pick. The Jacksonville Jaguars also like Cromartie and would select the defensive back even though they just signed Brian Williams in free agency.

It is quite possible the Miami Dolphins take a stab at Cromartie as sources have told us right now the team's decision could come down to the Florida State product or Tennessee's Allen when the Dolphins select at No. 16 in the first round.

The 49ers also are highly interested in Cromartie, but he is not a candidate for their high first pick. The Niners are hoping to see Cromartie slide into the second round where they will consider him with the fifth pick in the round, the No. 37 overall.

With the recent trade of Sammy Davis to the 49ers, the Chargers could bring Jamar Fletcher back into the mix. Another team also vying for the services of the former first-round choice is the Atlanta Falcons.


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