It’s official. Draft season is here. A time where we can all rejoice, and the possibility of our favorite prospects being drafted by the 49ers are as real as it’ll ever be. To kick things off, I’m going to do a full mock using the nine picks the 49ers are currently slated to have in the 2022 NFL draft.
For this first mock, I’m going to abide by where the picks currently stand strictly. Meaning no trades. Let’s have some fun with this, as this will be the first of many mock drafts I will publish over the next month leading up to the draft.
Round 2, pick 61
Josh Paschal, EDGE – Kentucky
The 49ers stick to their seemingly annual tradition of drafting a defensive lineman with their first pick. While the unit is currently very deep, the 49ers are still lacking that true number two option behind Nick Bosa. Paschal’s selection gives them the potential of getting a bona fide three-down player to line up opposite of their superstar edge rusher.
At 6’3,278 pounds, Paschal has the ideal physical traits to hold his own at the NFL level. On top of the physical attributes, Paschal was one of the best run defending edge players in college football last season.
This pick gives the 49ers a player who comes in with a high floor and the ability to make an impact from day one. If Paschal continues to develop a deeper bag as a pass rusher, he has the ability to become a high-impact starter at the NFL level.
Round 3, pick 93
Nick Cross, Safety – Maryland
The 49ers address the Jaquiski Tartt-sized hole currently residing in their secondary by taking one of the most athletically gifted players in this draft. Cross put on a show at the NFL combine, running in the 4.3s while also standing out during positional drills.
Cross has tremendous speed and range in the open field and has displayed a knock for making plays on the football.
This pick gives the 49ers a legitimate running mate to place on the backend with Jimmie Ward, also accomplishing the goal of getting younger at the position and in the secondary as a whole.
Round 3, pick 105
Dohnovan West, Center ArizonaState
All signs point to Alex Mack returning in 2022, but the 49ers plan ahead with this pick by selecting their center of the future. West would be a phenomenal heir apparent at the position, coming in at 6’4 300 pounds with the agility to operate in space at a high level in an outside zone attack.
West was strong in pass protection as well in 2021, only allowing four pressures on 372 pass-blocking snaps. This one is a no-brainer, adding depth to the offensive line while also potentially setting Trey Lance up with his running mate for the next half-decade.
Round 4, pick 134
Otito Ogbonnia, DI – UCLA
It’s all about the trenches! No, seriously, the 49ers continue to invest at the line of scrimmage and add a solid piece to the rotation on their interior defensive line.
At 6’4,320 pounds, Ogbonnia gives the 49ers quality depth and insurance behind Javon Kinlaw at the nose tackle position.
Round 5, pick 172
Hassan Haskins, Running Back – Michigan
A dynamic runner gets added to the 49ers running back room to insulate a unit with a few question marks at the moment. Haskins has experience excelling in both zone and gap concepts and has the ideal size to translate to the next level at 6’1,220 pounds.
Haskins is a tough north-to-south runner, averaging over three yards after contact per attempt in 2021. This move gives the 49ers a set of fresh legs in the backfield and helps lighten the load on a rushing attack currently slated to be led by Eli Mitchell and Jeff Wilson Jr.
I actually think Haskins would have the chance to fight for a lead role in this backfield, and the upside he would potentially add to the 49ers’ ground game is too great to ignore here in the fifth round.
Round 6, pick 187
Chigoziem Okonkwo, Tight End – Maryland
Okonkwo is a really fun prospect to evaluate. At 6’2,244 pounds, Okwonko possesses more speed and the ability to stretch a defense both vertically and horizontally. His 4.52 40 yard dash backs the speed that he puts on film, and he also added a 35.5 inch vertical to boot.
While I think he offers value in a traditional tight-end role, his versatility might be his ultimate calling card.
Okonkwo has the ability to be utilized in a similar fashion to 49ers pro bowl fullback Kyle Juszczyk. That gives the 49ers immediate insurance at a range of positions. It also potentially sets them up for life after Juszczyk, a reality that may need to be prepared for sooner rather than later.
Round 6, pick 220
Chamarri Conner, cornerback – Virginia Tech
The 49ers take a swing at replacing the void left in at the slot corner position by bringing in a player who is no stranger to playing nickel. Conner started all 13 games in the slot for Virginia Tech in 2021, en route to All-ACC honorable mention honors.
Conner is a strong tackler in space and left an impact all over the field, recording 5.5 tackles for loss and two sacks this past season. Conner also comes with a strong background in special teams, logging over 500 snaps on special teams throughout his career at Virginia Tech.
The 49ers get a player who, in the long term, can eventually fill the hole left by the recently departed K’Waun Williams while also getting value in the immediate future from Conner’s contributions on special teams.
Round 6, Pick 221
Spencer Burford, Tackle – UTSA
One of my favorite prospects in this draft, Burford has all the physical traits to develop into an impact player on the 49ers’ offensive line. At 6’5,295 pounds, Burford is extremely fluid and would be a fantastic fit for the aggressive outside zone-based rushing attack utilized by the 49ers.
Burford was first-team All-Conference USA in 2021, during a season in which he only allowed one sack on 338 pass-blocking attempts. With the uncertainty surrounding Mike McGlinchey’s future with the team beyond this season, Burford provides the 49ers the chance to develop their own contingency plan for the position in-house over the next year or so.
Round 7, Pick 262
Lucas Krull, Tight End – Pittsburgh
Mr. Irrelevant! Even with the selection of Okwonkoro earlier in the draft, the 49ers decide to add another player to compete for a roster spot in the tight end room. Krull has prototypical size at the position, standing in at 6-6 while weighing in at 260 pounds.
Krull was named as a second-team All-ACC selection in 2021 during a campaign that saw him catch 38 passes for 451 yards and six touchdowns. Fun fact: it would become the second time Krull was drafted by a professional sports team from San Francisco with this pick. The Giants drafted Krull in the 34th round of the 2018 Major League Baseball Draft.