Working the draft board is more than just a ‘best player available' philosophy. General Managers need to make the board work for them by moving up and down to fill needs with the best prospects possible. The 49ers have done well in this area for the last couple of years and I don't expect 2013 to be any different.
Below I put on my GM cap and try to give my best Trent Baalke impersonation. Here goes nothing:
20: Trade: The 49ers send their first round pick (No. 31), third round pick (No. 74), and a fifth round pick (No. 157) to Chicago for their first round pick (No. 20). With pick No. 20 overall, the 49ers select Cornelius Carradine, DE/OLB from Florida State.
The 49ers have been rumored to be interested Tank Carradine ever since word got out that they'd be in attendance at Carradine's pro day. Tank did better than expected considering he's only 4 ½ months removed from a torn ACL.
Moving up costs the 49ers a third and fifth round pick this year but gives them one of the most dynamic pass rushers in the game. I love the idea of utilizing him as a pass rush specialist in 2013 while grooming him to, eventually, take over for Justin Smith.
34: Trade: The 49ers send a second round pick (No. 34) and fourth round pick in 2014 to Buffalo for their second round pick (No. 41) and first round pick in 2014.
The 49ers are in a unique spot to potentially add to future draft classes with a trade of the 34th overall pick (acquired from KC in the Alex Smith trade). One team (in this case, Buffalo) may be desperate enough to grab a quarterback in the top of the second and be willing to part with a future first rounder.
Buffalo moves up eight spots to grab their QB of the future while the Niners acquire a second pick in round one of the 2014 draft. I threw in the 49ers fourth rounder in 2014 as added incentive and would even be willing to consider throwing in a third instead.
41 (from Buffalo): The 49ers select safety D.J. Swearinger, South Carolina.
Moving back in the second still allows the Niners to draft a top safety, and one of my favorites at the position in Swearinger.
61: Trade: 49ers send a second round pick (No. 61) to Philadelphia for their third round pick (No. 67) and Philadelphia's fourth round pick 2014.
Trading back just six spots into the third round allows the 49ers acquire a future fourth round pick to replace the one they gave up in the above trade with Buffalo.
67 (from Philadelphia): The 49ers select DT Brandon Williams, Missouri Southern.
The 49ers land a true nose tackle with this pick and one with a ton of upside. Williams was a three-time All-American at Missouri Southern and proved he could hang with the bigger competition in January's Senior Bowl.
93: The 49ers select CB Tyrann Mathieu, LSU.
Selecting Mathieu furthers the competition we'll see this offseason at corner. However, with the future of the secondary very much in doubt, Mathieu provides a low risk, high reward option for the 49ers late in the third round.
This trade up might be a little farfetched. The Niners haven't met with Lattimore (that we know of). Given his injury, one could surmise that the team potentially drafting him would want to check in with him and gauge the status of his injured knee first hand. Still, adding Lattimore is another low risk, high reward option that would give the team a legitimate heir to Frank Gore.
131: The 49ers select safety Josh Evans, UF.
Evans is a bit of dark horse at safety and hasn't garnered the attention like college teammate Matt Elam. Evans is a true free safety with long arms and above average ball skills. He gives the 49ers a second safety in this class and allows them some versatility in how they proceed with second round pick, combo safety, DJ Swearinger.
146: Trade: The 49ers send a sixth round pick (No. 173) and 2014 fifth round pick to Miami for a fifth round pick (No. 146) and select TE Ryan Otten, San Jose St.
The Niners need to fill a spot vacated by Delanie Walker. A trade up into the fifth round is necessary to grab Otten. There isn't much in the way of TEs capable of producing right away beyond round five. Otten isn't a burner but he's big and strong enough to create mismatches in the slot. He's not a great blocker but shows willingness to stick his nose in on plays and could develop into a nice No. 2 tight end.
237: The 49ers select OLB David Bass, Jr. Missouri Western
246: The 49ers select OT Luke Marquadt, Azusa Pacific
252: The 49ers select WR Tyrone Goard, Eastern Kentucky
Each selection here is unlikely to make the roster. However, Bass is an absolute terror off the line and may surprise some people with his ability to pressure the quarterback. He's a bit of a tweener (4-3 end/3-4 OLB) and didn't play against tough competition, but held his own during the week of practices at the East-West Shrine Game in January.
The 49ers visited with both Marquadt and Goard, making them likely targets in round seven or undrafted free agency. Marquadt would provide depth at either tackle spot. Goard has nice potential but is very raw and would likely be a candidate for the practice squad.
The 49ers made four trades in the 2012 NFL Draft. Here, I have them making five. It should be noted that with the exception of David Bass, Jr., Marcus Lattimore and Brandon Williams the 49ers have met with each of the players drafted in this scenario.
This completes my journey in the mind of Trent Baalke. Give it a shot and tell me where I got it right or wrong.