The 2011 NFL Draft is only two days away, and I'm getting extremely nervous, anxious even. Last year, I had a great time predicting how things would go down, and was only thrown off by the 49ers trading up a couple spots (I even predicted Tyson Alualu to the Jaguars) to get Anthony Davis. I figured it was for Davis at that point, but I hadn't expected movement. This year, I believe I have a very good handle of where the 49ers want to go with the seventh overall pick, but I also feel like the six teams in front of them can go in so many different directions. The biggest wild cards are Carolina and Buffalo, who could go a number of ways and change the landscape of the rest of the top ten depending on what they do.
Still, I feel like the 49ers are in a great position in this draft, and I'll probably reiterate that a couple times more before the 28th actually gets here. They're early enough to the point where one of the top three talents could fall to them, and if they don't, they're still in a position to land one of the most elite players coming out this year. They also stand a chance to grab a lot of guys who could work out in the later rounds, in this very high-potential draft. I feel like there are guys who will be around who fit the "elite talent" or "elite potential" mold in every round where the 49ers will be looking to address a need position.
That being said, there are some scenarios that are preferred over others, to be sure. I'm sure that kind of thing is different from person-to-person, as people like different players to varying degrees. I'm sure there are folks out there who like Cam Newton and think he'd be great for the 49ers at the seventh overall pick, while others might consider being forced to take him a bad scenario. I'm going to attempt to remove personal biases from this and look at what would help the team the most, while considering players that I believe the 49ers are actually interested in. After the jump, we'll explore what the best-case scenario at pick seven is, and then the worst-case scenario.
Best Case Scenario: 49ers draft Patrick Peterson, CB LSU at #7
This is almost unanimously a no-brainer, as Peterson is considered the best player in the draft by most, and definitely the consensus number one at his position. Peterson does almost everything you want out of a top-flight corner, with only a few flaws in his game that can likely be fixed at the next level with better coaching and support. He figures to make the immediate transition into a starting corner and will be thrown into the deep-end against some of the better receivers from the get-go. In San Francisco, Peterson would immediately be the number one corner ahead of Nate Clements, though I imagine it will be a game of matchups, as Nate possess certain skills that work better against certain corners. Vic Fangio would love to have a guy who can blanket like Peterson can, and he'd be the pick at seven, barring some otherworldly trade offer that they can't refuse. Every player in the league has a price, never forget that.
What could prevent this scenario from happening? All six teams ahead of the 49ers, that's what. The Carolina Panthers pick first, and they could certainly go in that direction if they think he's the best player in the draft. The Denver Broncos haven't had to worry about the position for a long while with Champ Bailey there, now with the player being touted as the next Champ, why not lock down that position for another ten years or more? Buffalo could go a number of ways, the Bills have so many needs, and could easily grab Peterson and feel great about the pick. The Bengals are probably the least likely to grab him, but he's just that good. Arizona seems to be the likely team to grab him, simply because it would turn the position into an outright powerhouse for them, and he fits the BPA criteria that they will employ at pick five. The Browns would consider him here, regardless of last year's draft.
So there's a lot that could get in the way of drafting Peterson, but it's still not an altogether unlikely scenario. The 49ers could end up drafting him, and he'd be a great fit in San Francisco.
Alternate best case scenario: 49ers trade pick seven with Peterson off the board, land Prince Amukamara a few spots later and gather ammunition to move back into the first round to select the quarterback they really want.
Worst Case Scenario: 49ers draft a defensive lineman in lieu of cornerback or outside linebacker
This is a scenario in which Patrick Peterson, Marcell Dareus, Von Miller, Robert Quinn and maybe even Prince Amukamara are gone. I do feel like drafting Amukamara if he is there is a better option than going with a defensive lineman, but the 49ers might not be that high on him. I actually have heard things to the contrary, but that's neither here nor there. The fact is that the worst case scenario for the 49ers is having to get one of the second best at a major position, or getting a top-flight defensive lineman like Cameron Jordan or Da'Quan Bowers.
Is that such a bad thing? No, I don't believe it is under any circumstances. Including Amukamara is there just means that the 49ers will land a great corner, while Cameron Jordan would immediately be a starter and is almost guaranteed to be great. It's jut considered the worst-case scenario because the team would not be getting one of the "top three" players or so in the draft, and they're not filling a position of incredible need. At the very least, this just shows that the 49ers can't come out badly. Would I prefer they trade out of the pick here? Yes. Can they go wrong with drafting at this spot? Only if they do something really, really stupid.
Alternate worst case scenario: 49ers draft Cam Newton. Because I said so. Yuck.