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Mel Kiper NFL mock draft 2020: Why 49ers could pick LSU's Grant Delpit


Mel Kiper NFL mock draft 2020: Why 49ers could pick LSU's Grant Delpit

A year after selecting No. 2 overall in the NFL draft, the Super Bowl LIV-bound 49ers will pick much later this year in Las Vegas. 

They're slated to step up to the podium with the No. 31 or No. 32 overall pick, depending upon the results of the Super Bowl on Feb. 3 against the Kansas City Chiefs. San Francisco general manager John Lynch stopped by the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala. earlier this week for draft preparation, a year after the 49ers staff coached up some of the 2019 draft's top prospects. Though the 49ers will square off with the Chiefs, Lynch made it clear that he doesn't want San Francisco's success to be a one-off. 

"That's why you're in Mobile the week before the Super Bowl," Lynch told ESPN's Jeremy Fowler earlier this week. "It's a big decision, do you leave back home? Because there are a lot of details to get wrapped up. But you've got to constantly be better and trying to better your organization. This is a valuable opportunity to do that."

The 49ers' first-round pick, as of now, is there only one in the first four rounds of this year's draft. That makes nailing the selection much more important, according to ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr., who projects the 49ers will select LSU safety Grant Delpit. 

"This feels like a good pairing, with San Francisco potentially losing Jimmie Ward in free agency," Kiper wrote. "Delpit has a ton of talent, but I want to see how he tests at the combine in a few weeks."

Listed at 6-foot-3, 203 pounds, Delpit won the Jim Thorpe Award as college football's top defensive back in 2019, following in the footsteps of Tigers alumni Patrick Peterson (2010) and Morris Claiborne (2011). The Associated Press voted the junior safety second-team All-American in 2019, and SEC coaches voted Delpit first-team all-conference in 2018 and 2019. Delpit finished 2019 with 65 total tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, two interceptions and seven passes defensed this season en route to a National Championship with LSU. 

Despite the accolades, Kiper said that 2019 represented a disappointing season for Delpit. 

"Delpit was getting top-10 buzz early in the season, but he didn't have a great year, fighting through an ankle injury and missing too many tackles," Kiper wrote.

[RELATED: How Shanahan, Lynch make 49ers CEO Jed York's job easier]

Ward, 28, is set to become an unrestricted free agent after carrying a salary-cap number of $3,843,750 this season. The 49ers value Ward's versatility, but also have defensive lineman Arik Armstead and wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders set to hit free agency this offseason, Tight end George Kittle and D-lineman DeForest Buckner are also eligible for contract extensions, meaning the 49ers likely won't be able to keep all of Ward, Armstead and Sanders under the salary cap with Kittle and Buckner due to be among the highest-paid players at their position. 

Atlanta Falcons right tackle Kaleb McGary and New England Patriots wide receiver N'Keal Harry -- the No. 31 and No. 32 picks in 2019, respectively -- each made under $1.9 million last season. If the 49ers opt to let Ward walk in free agency, drafting Delpit could be a less expensive alternative. 

But with free agency just under two months away and the draft even further away, the 49ers' approach to reloading their roster isn't set in stone.

LSU vs. Clemson live stream: How to watch 2020 National Championship Game


LSU vs. Clemson live stream: How to watch 2020 National Championship Game

It will be a battle of Tigers in the 2020 College Football Playoff National Championship Game. When the No. 3 Clemson Tigers take on the No. 1 LSU Tigers, there should be talent galore Monday night at Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

Like most games, this all starts with two star quarterbacks. LSU's Joe Burrow was this season's Heisman Trophy winner and the likely No. 1 pick in 2020 NFL Draft. Clemson's Trevor Lawrence started off slow this season, but has all the talent in the world and is seen as the presumptive top pick in the 2021 draft. 

In reality, there will be talent all over the field. Both teams have first-round talents on both sides of the ball and head coaches who can capture a room like nobody else. 

Whoever takes home the title this year, will be ending a long winning streak, too. Clemson enters the national championship with a 29-game win streak, while LSU has 15 straight victories. 

This should be a game full of action, and the front offices of the 49ers and Raiders should be locked in. With the Raiders having two first-round picks, and the 49ers selecting at the end of Round 1, these two teams should have their eyes on two dominant college programs. 

Buckle up, we're in for a fun ride. 

[RELATED: Ranking six prospects for 49ers to watch in LSU-Clemson]

Here’s how you can watch tonight’s national championship game on TV and streaming online.

When: Monday, Jan. 13, at 5 pm P.T.
TV channel: ESPN
Live stream: Watch ESPN

Why Raiders should stick to NFL draft blueprint, raid Clemson-LSU stars


Why Raiders should stick to NFL draft blueprint, raid Clemson-LSU stars

On its face, the plan seemed quite simple.

Raiders general manager Mike Mayock and coach Jon Gruden went down to Levi's Stadium last January to watch Clemson and Alabama duel in the 2019 College Football Playoff National Championship Game. What they found were rosters loaded with NFL talent who had been immersed in winning culture for the past three to five seasons. They found a featured back with don't-give-a-[redacted] attitude, a shutdown corner with tireless work ethic, a slot receiver with hands of gold and an unflappable clutch gene, and an edge rusher with all the tools and confidence to be the anchor of a defensive line.

The Raiders loved what they saw and acted accordingly three months later in the NFL draft, making Josh Jacobs, Trayvon Mullen, Hunter Renfrow and Clelin Ferrell the newest members of the Silver and Black and the foundation of a rebuild that eventually will bring the greatness back.

Gruden and Mayock's plan to draft talented players from winning programs might have seemed like an elementary idea. Did they only watch the two best teams in football? There are, after all, many other talented players who weren't on teams vying for a title.

[RELATED: 2020 NFL mock draft 1.0: Raiders go WR, LB in Round 1]

No matter. The plan to bring in elite players from programs with strong culture worked flawlessly last season. Jacobs, Renfrow, Mullen and Ferrell were key contributors to a 7-9 Raiders team that could have made the playoffs if not for a few hiccups.

As Gruden and Mayock look to stack talent on talent, they should go back to that blueprint and jot down name after name that is called when No. 1 LSU and -- you guessed it -- No. 3 Clemson meet in the 2020 College Football Playoff National Championship Game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans.

Once again, the NFL talent on the field will be off the charts. But both teams also have a number of prospects who will fit the Raiders' vast number of needs as well.

Yes, if Clemson linebacker/safety/athletic mutant Isaiah Simmons is available at No. 12 (he won't be), the Raiders should draft him. Yes, receivers Tee Higgins (Clemson) and Justin Jefferson (LSU) would look good catching passes from whoever the quarterback of the future is for the Silver and Black.

There will be potential secondary help all over the field. Not just in first-round talents Grant Delpit, Kristian Fulton and A.J. Terrell, but also in Clemson safety K'Von Wallace, who could be a late Day 2 or Day 3 pick for the Raiders to target.

Don't count out the Raiders looking at taking one of the two running backs in the game, either, to have another young, electric option behind Jacobs, as both Travis Etienne and Clyde Edwards-Helaire would form a ridiculous 1-2 punch along with Jacobs.

It's not just the 2020 prospects the Raiders should note, either. Yes, Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence will be next year's No.1 pick. Mayock and Gruden also should have their eyes on LSU receiver Ja'Marr Chase, Clemson wideout Justyn Ross, LSU defensive tackle Tyler Shelvin, Clemson edge rusher Xavier Thomas and LSU corner Derek Stingley Jr. all of whom are underclassmen with elite talent.

Last year's blueprint was successful for the Raiders. The talent was needed, but the attitude and culture shift Gruden and Mayock craved clearly took hold. The Raiders, led by their rookies, were resilient against all odds last season. They believed they should have been in the playoffs. The rookies were their harshest critics. They worked tirelessly, performed on Sundays and believe they are the start of something special.

[RELATED: Ranking draft prospects Raiders should watch in Clemson-LSU]

Clemson coach Dabo Swinney summed up his program, the players he looks for and the culture he's built -- something the Raiders were very attracted to and for good reason -- in a succinct way.

"It’s easy to see if a guy can play or not, it’s a lot tougher to see if he’s the right fit. Because not everybody is a good fit for our culture and who we are," Swinney told NBC Sports California in August. "And the way we do things. Because this place is tough, man, this is no-nonsense. Not everybody values education the way we do. Not everybody values discipline and accountability the way we do."

While no two cultures are alike, the one Ed Orgeron has built at LSU appears to be on the same level as his counterpart Monday night. It quickly has taken hold and put the Tigers on the precipice of a dream season. Both coaches are brilliant and demand a lot of their players both on and off the field. They recruit talent, yes. But they also recruit for character and locker-room fit.

Those are the guys you win with at any level. The guys you build programs around and who can change the tides just by walking into the building. Talent is important. It almost always wins out in the end. But when enacting a rebuild, the culture the players were molded in is equally as significant.

Mayock and Gruden got a handful of those players in last year's draft. That blueprint worked to perfection.

The Raiders should follow it again. Raid Death Valley (both of them) of talent and leadership to build an unshakeable foundation for the next era of Raiders football.