2011 NFL Draft: NFL Lockout, Free Agency And The 49ers

Yesterday I made some basic predictions of positions to be selected heading into the 2011 NFL Draft. Part of that discussion involved the chance the 49ers might move up at some point in the draft due to the excess of picks they have. The 49ers have 12 picks and in most years that would put them in a position to move up in some of the middle rounds to get a guy they really want.

However, this is not like most years as the NFL Lockout has delayed the start of free agency indefinitely. I'm curious how much that affects draft strategies. Given how labor stoppages can operate I'd say eventually it will get worked out and free agency will get going. However, as was mentioned at some point a couple months back, if the dispute lasts into August or beyond, the league might just have to delay the start of free agency. If that's the case, the 49ers would have their 2010 starting center, nose tackle, free safety, and quarterback all guaranteed to be back in the fold.

At the same time, with the turnover on the coaching staff and the expectations on the backs of Coach Jim Harbaugh and his coaching staff, it might not be the best idea to roll the dice on any specific result of this work stoppage. Accordingly, the 49ers have to factor in a variety of potential non-issues into their 2011 NFL Draft strategy.

If you were running the 49ers draft this year, how would the lockout impact your decisions? Do you load up on players since undrafted free agency remains an unknown? Do you address positions that might not be needs (e.g. nose tackle if Aubrayo Franklin signs a long-term deal) because you don't know what a new CBA will bring, or even when a new CBA will be signed? There are so many questions and really no chance for answers for the foreseeable future.

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