A scout's eye view of 49ers' draft, Part II

In Part II, former NFL scout Russ Lande talks about what kind of talent the 49ers can expect to find in the middle rounds of the draft with their concentration of picks there, who are the top receivers San Francisco could land outside of the first round, what positions of need for the 49ers are deepest in this draft, and who are some of the top edge rushers available, among other subjects.

SFI: With the 49ers' concentration of picks in the middle rounds, how is this draft depth-wise, and could they get some good talent in the middle rounds?
There's no question that there is good talent in the middle of the draft. There are a lot of players this year who will go in the third, fourth or fifth round. Obviously, not all of them are going to pan out. There are a lot of guys who are solid players. They weren't superstars in college, just good, solid players. Along the lines of tight end Matt Spaeth from Minnesota, a very good football player who will be a solid player in the NFL. And there are players like that they can find in the middle rounds that will be a backup for a year or two and could develop into a good starter.

SFI: If the 49ers don't take a wide receiver in the first round, but take one in the second, who would be good value at that point?
If Aundrae Allison from East Carolina made it to the second round, he would be a great pick. I think he is the most sure thing of the receivers, other than Johnson. He is a smooth, fluid receiver with great speed. I think Jason Hill from Washington State is probably a guy that is going to be looked at at the top of the second round. He has great hands and was an extremely productive receiver in college. If he doesn't go in the first round, I think Robert Meachem from Tennessee would be one of the receivers the 49ers would definitely be eyeing come the second round. He has good size and speed, a quick burst and the ability to make big plays.

SFI: What position is deeper in this draft, WR, DE or LB?
Receiver. There is a good number of second-tier-type guys that are going to go in the third, fourth or even fifth round that a lot of teams like, and are good football players that for whatever reason are rated a notch below everyone else. There are a few defensive ends in the middle rounds, but more receivers.

SFI: Who are some of the best edge rushers coming out of this class?
I think Gaines Adams is not only a sure thing for a 4-3 defense, but his workout at the combine was astounding. If he were to slide to number 11, the Niners would jump on him in a heartbeat. He is the guy that most teams now believe could be a 3-4 rush linebacker after his workout. They were so amazed at how he performed. Teams are really excited about him as an outside linebacker. Jarvis Moss from Florida is a guy a lot of teams who play a 3-4 are looking at because he is not a real big kid, but he is really quick and explosive rushing the passer. A lot of 3-4 teams think he would be a good fit as a rush guy at outside linebacker.

SFI: How much emphasis do most teams put on individual workouts or combine workouts as opposed to what they see on film?
I think teams that draft well do not draft guys just based on how they perform at the combine or in Pro Day workouts. I think the combine is a great tiebreaker. If you have two guys that in all your meetings you are coming up dead even on the combine is a great chance to see them up close and personal, do drills, and you can sometimes move one guy a shade above the other based on how he performs in the drills and the 40. But I think it is a mistake for a team to take a guy who they had as a third- or fourth-rounder but all of a sudden they think he is a first-round guy based on his workout. Teams that do that generally miss over and over, they make mistake after mistake.

SFI: For a player like Adams, who had a great college career, an impressive Pro Day workout is just icing on the cake, then?
Yes. Everybody came into the combine 100 percent sure he was the number one defensive end. The thing that was great to see, because you didn't get to see on film is, how does he do dropping into coverage and those things because they didn't ask him to do that at Clemson. At the combine, he was great. For a guy that was going to go in the top 10 he did all the defensive end drills and all the linebacker drills, and didn't complain. And everybody who saw him said he can move, he can drop and do all the things you'd ask of a linebacker. He helped himself tremendously with that.

SFI: Is there wariness on the part of teams that may be contemplating switching a player, like Adams, to a different position in the pros when the player may have had an off-the-charts performance in a T-shirt and shorts during his workout, but can he do it in pads in a real game?
They don't worry so much about if he can play that way in pads. If you were to put these kids in pads and make them work out at the combine they would probably work out very similar. I think the big concern for teams is that a player may work out great when it's just drills, but is he going to be able to do the same thing when it's game time? With Adams, you don't worry about that so much because teams will say, 'From what we saw of him as a player on the field, he's a heck of a football player. We've never seen him do on the field the things we've seen him do in drills, like dropping back, however, everything we've seen him do in the defensive ends drills we saw on film.' So teams can then sort of say, 'OK, he was able to do the defensive end drills and he blew it up on the field. He did the linebacker drills and we can get a feel that he can probably pull it off on the field as well in the NFL.'

Former NFL scout Russ Lande is a draft analyst and author of GM Jr's Guide to the NFL Draft, an annual publication. To find out more about Lande and GM Jr, visit www.gmjr.com, or e-mail Russ with questions at russ@gmjr.com.

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