NFL Mock Draft

2021 NFL Mock Draft: 49ers pick South Carolina CB Israel Mukuamu

2021 NFL Mock Draft: 49ers pick South Carolina CB Israel Mukuamu

It’s never too early to look ahead when you’re talking NFL draft. 

Looking ahead to next year’s event, CBS Sports sees the 49ers addressing the secondary with their first-round selection. R.J. White predicts the 49ers will select Israel Mukuamu from South Carolina at No. 31 overall.

Mukuamu has the height at 6-foot-4 to keep up with any of the NFL’s tallest and most athletic wideouts, and was named to the All-SEC second team in 2019 as a sophomore.

[RELATED: Will 49ers regret not picking any cornerbacks during 2020 NFL Draft?]

It would be the third consecutive year general manager John Lynch chose to select a South Carolina product in the first two rounds of the NFL draft, after taking wideout Deebo Samuel in 2019 and defensive lineman Javon Kinlaw in April.

The 49ers have three cornerbacks who could enter free agency next offseason, so the position should be a priority for Lynch after the 2020 campaign.

Mukuamu famously picked off former Georgia quarterback and Buffalo Bills fourth-round pick Jake Fromm three times this past season, including one that was aided by a Kinlaw pressure.

[49ERS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

2021 NFL mock draft: 49ers targeting offensive line, running back

2021 NFL mock draft: 49ers targeting offensive line, running back

We’re just over a week removed from the 2020 NFL Draft, but it’s never too early to look ahead.

General manager John Lynch and the 49ers put together a well-regarded class in his fourth draft at the helm, and NFL pundits already are speculating about who the Niners might target from next year’s potential crop of prospects.

Here’s who experts from around the NFL have the 49ers eyeing in the 2021 NFL Draft:

[49ERS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

Michael Renner, Pro Football Focus: OL Wyatt Davis, Ohio State (No. 31 overall)

Analysis: "Davis already caught our eye as a redshirt sophomore when he didn’t allow a single sack or hit all season in his first year as a starter. While he likely would have been a Day 2 pick had he declared, he has all the physical tools to sneak into the first round with a big 2020."

Sayre Bedinger, FanSided: RB Chuba Hubbard, Oklahoma State (No. 31 overall)

Analysis: "The San Francisco 49ers have no shortage of fun weapons in their offense, so what’s one more? There were rumors the team could be interested in trading away Tevin Coleman during the 2020 NFL Draft, and while that didn’t come to fruition, they did trade Matt Breida to the Miami Dolphins and the Niners could be eyeing running backs early in the 2021 NFL Draft as a result."

Walter Cherepinsky, Walter Football: LB Micah Parsons, Penn State (No. 28 overall)

Analysis: "Linebacker is the weakness of the 49ers' terrific defense if Kwon Alexander can't stay healthy, so that could be addressed soon. Looking like the next great linebacker to come out of Penn State, Micah Parsons has been very productive. That's not a surprise, as Parsons was a highly athletic five-star recruit."

[RELATED: Deebo Samuel should have big season after 49ers drafted Brandon Aiyuk]

Matt Miller, Bleacher Report: OL Creed Humphrey, Oklahoma (No. 31 overall)

Analysis: "The 49ers offensive line will look very different in 2020 with Trent Williams replacing Joe Staley at left tackle, but one thing will remain constant—a need to get better at offensive guard. For most of the 2019 season, Creed Humphrey was the top-rated center on my big board. The redshirt sophomore opted to return to Oklahoma for another season and has a chance to leave Norman with a locked-in Round 1 grade if he continues to show the mobility, poise and awareness that made him the best center in college football last year."

Neal Driscoll, Pro Football Network: S Caden Sterns, Texas (No. 29 overall)

Analysis: "Sterns is a dynamic playmaker in the secondary, which is one of the few things the talented 49ers’ defense needs."

Mel Kiper NFL mock draft 2020: Raiders get C.J. Henderson, Tee Higgins

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Mel Kiper NFL mock draft 2020: Raiders get C.J. Henderson, Tee Higgins

The Las Vegas Raiders addressed both sides of the ball with their three first-round picks last year. ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. expects them to do the same next month.

Kiper released his Mock Draft 3.0 on Tuesday, projecting all 32 first-round selections without factoring in trades. The ESPN analyst addressed two of the Raiders' biggest positions of need, predicting coach Jon Gruden and general manager Mike Mayock would draft a cornerback and a wide receiver, respectively, with the No. 12 and No. 19 overall picks.

The Raiders drafted a cornerback first in Kiper's mock, selecting Florida's C.J. Henderson with the No. 12 overall selection. That's right around the range where the draft's most talented receivers are projected to be picked, but Kiper is high on Henderson.

"[Since] Las Vegas has two first-round picks and this class of receivers is much deeper at the top than the cornerback group," Kiper wrote, "let's give Jon Gruden and Co. a potential No. 1 corner in Henderson here. He had an up-and-down 2019 season, but he cemented his standing as the second-ranked cornerback in this class at the combine, where he ran a 4.39 40. The Raiders get to grab a receiver at No. 19."

NBC Sports Bay Area's Josh Schrock and Dalton Johnson projected the Raiders would select Alabama wide receiver Jerry Jeudy in their latest mock draft, factoring the Raiders free-agency additions on defense at myriad positions. Las Vegas still needs help in the secondary, though, and Henderson would provide a strong option to pair with Trayvon Mullen moving forward.

Receiver arguably is a more pressing need than cornerback, so Kiper projected that the Raiders won't wait to add an offensive weapon. He predicted that Las Vegas would draft Clemson wide receiver Tee Higgins.

"They can't go into the season with Tyrell Williams, Hunter Renfrow and Nelson Agholor as Derek Carr's top wideouts," Kiper wrote. "So how about (Hunter) Renfrow's college teammate, Higgins, a 6-foot-3 pass-catcher with elite ball skills. Higgins isn't a speedster -- he didn't work out at the combine, but he ran a 4.54 40 at his pro day -- but he could be an instant red zone threat for Carr."

The Raiders love Clemson's culture, so it's easy to envision them going that route again if they wait to draft a wide receiver. Higgins isn't as dynamic as the consensus top three receivers in CeeDee Lamb, Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs, but he likely also won't be on the board when the Raiders select next at No. 80 overall.

[RELATED: Raiders in perfect position to draft receiver they desire]

Schrock and Johnson had the Raiders selecting South Carolina defensive lineman Javon Kinlaw, who would add some much-needed pass-rushing ability to an improving defensive front. Alabama safety Xavier McKinney (No. 20 overall) and Clemson cornerback A.J. Terrell (No. 22 overall) were the two defensive backs the pair mocked following Kinlaw's selection, so the Raiders conceivably would still have options in the secondary if they drafted a wide receiver with their first of two first-round picks.

The Raiders once again have the ability to bring in offensive and defensive talent in the first round this year. We don't yet know which side of the ball they'll address first, but the flexibility can't  hurt in their inaugural season in Sin City.