With the 29th selection, the 49ers take ...

The 49ers will be on the clock in the first round of the 2008 NFL Draft this afternoon, and everybody has an opinion about which prospect they'll select. SFI editor in chief Craig Massei took an 11th-hour spin around the Internet to see what other experts were doing in their final mock drafts in regards to the 49ers' first selection, and 11 different players were mentioned by 23 different sources.

That's what it's like when you have the No. 29 overall selection in the first round. It's impossible to accurately predict what will happen in the draft order before then, which is why draft analysts are all over the board when predicting who the 49ers will take.

That said, San Francisco's first pick very well could come from the names listed below. We take a look at each of the players mentioned and give our take about the possibility of each guy becoming a 49er.


WR Malcolm Kelly, Oklahoma: Chris Steuber, Scout.com draft analyst; Rob Rang, NFLDraftScout.com
SFI's take: This guy has been a big riser since the NFL Combine, and he is an impressive physical specimen that would add great size at the position. He already is being compared to Arizona's Larry Fitzgerald, and the Niners certainly can use a receiver like that to build with for the future. Considered one of the elite receivers in this draft class, Kelly might be difficult to pass up if he still is on the board at No. 29.

WR DeSean Jackson, California: Don Zimmerman, SI.com; Scott Wright, NFLDraftCountdown.com
SFI's take: The hometown hero from Cal can flat out fly, and he also could add something big in the return game. The problem with Jackson is his diminutive size, and it remains to be seen how a 170-pound receiver can hold up in the NFL. That said, Jackson skills would fit very well in Mike Martz's offense, where he can line up in the slot and his size won't be as much of a factor.

LB Dan Connor, Penn State: Don Banks, SI.com; Mike Mayock, NFL Network; Chad Reuter, NFLDraftScout.com; James Alder, About.com
SFI's take: A versatile prospect who can play both inside and outside would be a fine selection at this spot. The problem is, he doesn't have the kind of size the 49ers are looking for to play inside next to Patrick Willis and take on burly offensive linemen so that Willis will be free to make plays. And the 49ers want their outside backers to bring heat in the pass rush, which is not Connor's specialty. Connor's a good player who might not be such a good fit for the 49ers.

OT Gosder Cherilus, Boston College: Peter King, SI.com
SFI's take: The 49ers are bound to select one of the fine offensive tackle prospects that will be available in the first two rounds of the draft, and Cherilus definitely is one of them. Cherilus might be able to come in and immediately challenge Jonas Jennings for the starting role at right tackle while making the position his for the future. Some consider Cherilus a top-five prospect among tackles in a very good year for that position, but with that much depth at the top, the 49ers also might be able to grab him in the second round, which is what SFI did in the Scout.com 2008 NFL Mock Draft.

LB Jerod Mayo, Tennessee: Dave Goldberg, Associated Press; Vic Carucci, NFL.com; Pat Kirwan, NFL.com; Mike Band, DraftAce.com
SFI's take: This could be the guy for the 49ers. By all accounts, Mayo is a stud inside backer in the mold of San Francisco's very own Willis, and would make for a dynamic duo of young, aggressive linebackers who could rule the inside for the next decade. He may be the best player available on the board when San Francisco picks, and if he is, the 49ers will take him.

DE Cliff Avril, Purdue: Matt Bitonti, DraftDaddy.com
SFI's take: This is a name to be aware of because Avril has sort of flown under the radar this spring but is a legitimate prospect to make an impact as a pass-rushing end at the next level. But the first round seems way too high to consider taking the Purdue product. He should be there when the 49ers select in the second round, and maybe even later than that.

WR James Hardy, Indiana: Frank Coyle, DraftInsiders.com; Michael Abromowitz, TheFootballExpert.com
SFI's take: A big and rangy target who, like Kelly and Jackson, possesses a lot of potential to make an impact at the next level. All three of those receivers are coming out after their junior season and might take some time to develop. To be sure, the 49ers should have a fine receiver prospect available to them when they go on the clock in both the first and second round, which means they'll probably wait until the second round to take one.

WR Donny Avery, Houston: Robert Davis, Footballsfuture.com
SFI's take: This speed-burner would be a good fit for Martz's offense, but there is no way he is going this high in the draft, particularly with the 49ers making the selection.

DE/OLB Quentin Groves, Auburn: Derek Harper, NFLDraftScout.com; Curtis Popejoy, DraftBoardInsider.com; John Matthes, NFLDraftGuys.com; Matt Barrows, 49ers beat writer, Sacramento Bee
SFI's take: We'll call Groves the leading candidate to be San Francisco's choice once the draft begins at 12 noon at the 49ers' facility in Santa Clara. He is what the 49ers need and are looking for, an athletic prospect with size and speed who can play on the 3-4 edge and bring the heat in the pass rush. If Groves is still on the board at No. 29, he may be San Francisco's man no matter who else still is available.

WR Early Doucet, LSU: Nolan Nawrocki, Pro Football Weekly
SFI's take: His stock has dropped since he was considered one of the elite receiver prospects entering last season. With all the talented juniors coming out, Doucet probably will drop into the second round, and the 49ers might consider him there.

OT Duane Brown, Virginia Tech: SportingNews.com
SFI's take: This name might surprise some people, but Brown is on the outer fringe of all the outstanding prospects available at offensive tackle, and some scouts have him rated higher than some of the more prominent names. But there will be a better tackle prospect available when the 49ers go on the clock, should the team decide to go in that direction. Brown's a name to consider in Round 2 or early on Sunday, when the draft resumes with Rounds 3 through 7.



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