Well this is my first FanPost so I hope it goes well. But I had to write this when I read the article on the front page today citing a source that said:
"The 49ers have the firepower to make more moves and influence the draft more than any team in the NFL," the source told CSNBayArea.com. "With all those draft picks, and half of them who can't truly make the 49ers' roster, they will be the most dangerous player in the draft. They'll shake it up like we've never seen before."
The logical conclusion most everyone draws when a team is loaded with picks is "trade up". But this has not been the Trent Baalke way. He seems to believe in his player assessment and not overpay for talent, including draft picks. And trading up is definitely not something "like we've never seen before". Heck, Mike Ditka traded away a whole draft for Ricky Williams. The only way to top that is trade away two drafts and we aren't doing that.
So this comment immediately brought to mind something I've been thinking about for weeks. And to hear this being said, I thought that maybe it was actually possible and something the 49ers are working on. And this is almost total control of the NFL draft for the next 5 years through what I like to call "compounding picks".
The first thing I have been looking at is the unique situation we are in. We have a very talented roster and little need for additional players at this point. I'm not a roster expert by any means, and this is a point of debate for the masses, but my guess is we can fit six, or maybe seven, players onto the roster (including a kicker). So let's just assume it's seven for arguments sake.
The other unique quality to the team is the number of draft picks we have this year. With 14 picks, and little need for much more than seven of them, we have a lot of opportunity to make some moves. Once again, the common argument is to trade up. Well what if we decide to go the other way and trade back/away? So let's look at those two options:
- Trade Back: This is a move Baalke made famous in the 2012 draft. The simple trade back a number of positions thinking your prospect is still likely to be there when you pick. But in the process pick up an additional current/future pick. Baalke's 2012 move to trade away one pick into two players and three future draft picks was best detailed by Peter King in MMQB here
- Trade Away: Simply trade away your current pick for a more valuable future pick. With the discounting mechanism GM's have used for future picks, this has allowed teams to trade away current 2nd round picks for future 1st round picks.
So given these two strategies, and the situation we are in, it is highly likely we will employ both BUT not pickup current picks and focus solely on future. This is where is starts to get interesting and possibly game-changing.
For simplicity here, I am not going to discuss trades by rounds but rather simply by number of draft picks. Who knows which picks will be traded, with the exception of compensatory picks that cannot be traded. Operating under the assumption that we have seven picks we will use and seven we will not, then it is safe to say seven will be traded for future picks (since we have no need for current picks).
Now it comes to compensation for the trades. Baalke was able to use one pick last year and get three additional future picks. But that is not the norm. I want to assume that half of the seven will be traded up a round (3rd for future 2nd) and the other half will generate multiple picks (4th for future 3rd and 6th). And since we are dealing with an odd number, I'll be more conservative and say the odd pick will be traded for one future pick. The math will then look like this:
- Four Current Drafts Picks = Four Future (Higher) Draft Picks
- Three Current Draft Picks = Six Future Draft Picks
I don't think this will be a hard thing to accomplish for even an average GM much less a GM with the stature of Trent Baalke. So now we have assumed we added ten future drafts picks out of our seven current picks. Let's move forward now and look at what we already have in 2014.
To my knowledge we have eights picks in 2014 (Regular picks + Alex Smith trade). We are also in line for what appears to be at least three compensatory picks at this point so let's assume three. So that's 11 picks plus the additional 10 we added via trades in 2013. That puts us as an astounding 21 picks in the 2014 draft.
Let's get a little crazier. I'm not going to go through all the math on this but if we assume we get seven more players in 2014 and employ the same theory as I did above in the 2013 draft, we will have 28 picks in the 2015 draft. If you look at 2016, 38 picks. In 2017 it would be 53 picks. You get the point. And this doesn't include compensatory selections.
The basic premise of this is simple. Once you have more draft picks than you need, you can grow the remaining draft picks exponentially. If a team was to use this process over the course of five drafts, the results would change the rules of the game If you want to see a team "shake it up like we've never seen before", then this is it.
In theory, this works. In practice, there will be other variables that come in to play. But I can see a team using this concept and doing something the league has never seen before. Eventually you would have less trade partners and peak out at a large number of picks. At that point though, control is yours. You can wield it for years against other teams.
To quote Albert Einstein, "The most powerful force in the universe is compound interest." Insert draft picks in there and it can be a game changer for the team employing it.
Now feel free to flame away at this theory.