The 2019 San Francisco 49ers Draft Panel concludes with Part 5 of the five part series.
Every year you hear draft analysts refer to prospects as their "draft crush." With so many different voices evaluating talent during the pre-draft process, it's natural that opinions are going to vary on some players. That's why this final topic is my favorite each year during the 49ers Draft Panel. I want to hear who experts are higher on compared to their counterparts.
Before we dive in, I want to send a major thank you to our six draft experts who agreed to be a part of this series. They've provided fantastic insight into the biggest 49ers-related draft topics.
The final question is this: Who is "your guy" in this year's draft?
Matt Miller, Bleacher Report
I love Josh Jacobs, the running back from Alabama. I compared him to Frank Gore, so there's a little bit of a 49ers tie in. I think he's a starting NFL running back from Day 1. I know he didn't test super well, but I watched him play and he plays really well. I like him a lot. I also really like Dawson Knox, a tight end from Ole Miss. Oddly enough, he didn't catch a touchdown in college, but it was largely because they had to spread the ball around so much. I would be over the moon if the 49ers were somehow able to get Dawson Knox to pair with Kittle – not at No. 36 but somewhere in the draft.
Dane Brugler, The Athletic
Back in October, it was Delaware safety Nasir Adderley, but he seems to be a consensus top-three safety now. I'm much higher on Hawaii LB Jahlani Tavai than most. Because he played at Hawaii and missed the Senior Bowl and Combine due to shoulder surgery, he is flying under the radar, but he is a top-64 prospect on my board and it wouldn't be a surprise if he lands in the second round range. He is a good-sized athlete with true three-down ability because of his physicality vs. the run and athleticism in coverage. Tavai is the type of linebacker the Patriots will draft on day two and it will surprise some, but they'll be getting a really good player. Two small-school prospects I'm higher on than most: Southeast Missouri OL Drew Forbes and Valdosta State CB Stephen Denmark. Two Combine snubs who should be drafted and earn roster spots as rookies.
Charles Davis, NFL Network
I'm going to give you a few. Ryan Finley, a quarterback out of North Carolina State. I feel like more people are liking him now than they did before. Jalin Moore – the running back out of Appalachian State. I'm a big fan. Cornerback Corey Ballentine out of Washburn. I love that kid, he's one of my favorites. Jace Sternberger, the tight end out of Texas A&M, he's one of my favorites. I'm a big Dalton Risner fan (OT, Kansas State). I've had him in the first round of both of my mock drafts. Florida safety Chauncey Gardner-Johnson. He's one of my favorites. As is TCU defensive lineman L.J. Collier.
Matt Bowen, ESPN
I'm going with Alabama running back Damien Harris. Yes, Harris doesn't have the same explosive skill set as college teammate Josh Jacobs – whom I see as the No. 1 running back in this class – and I get that. However, Harris has the classic, Alabama traits at the running back position, along with the make-up to develop quickly into a three-down back at the pro level. He is a decisive, downhill runner with the footwork to pick through the wash and enough speed – 4.57 – to hit the edge. Plus, he competes in pass pro and displays the soft hands to catch the ball out of the backfield in a pro-ready frame at 5-foot-10, 216 pounds. Tough, dependable player who checks the boxes as a solid Day 2 pick.
Daniel Jeremiah, NFL Network
Let's start with Alabama running back Josh Jacobs. I know a lot of people punted on him because he didn't run as fast and didn't have a ton of production, but I believe in the kid. I think he can do everything. One other guy I'm a little bit higher on is L.J. Collier from TCU. I think he's a really dynamic and explosive defensive lineman, and I like him.
Trevor Sikkema, The Draft Network
Well, up until a few weeks ago I would have told you Michigan linebacker Devin Bush. I've been a big fan of his since August and I thought he had a great year. I didn't understand why the gap was so wide between he and Devin White (who is also talented). But it seems the media has caught up to my Devin Bush love. I'll throw out a second one and say wide receiver out of Stanford JJ Arcega-Whiteside. I just see him winning in the NFL in such a clear way. Big basketball background makes him so tough to cover on third down and in the red zone. He's Marques Colston to me. Throw it up and let him snag it for six points.