Perhaps Eric Reid wasn't the safety that everyone thought the San Francisco 49ers would draft, but given that they traded up for him, he was definitely their man and, of course, there's a chance that they caught wind of another team after him as well.
The name we all saw a good deal: Florida International safety Jonathan Cyprien. He's a guy who flew up draft boards this offseason due to his high ceiling and generally-sound play, and most of us here fell in love with him.
So there was, of course, a little bit of outcry when Reid was the pick. "Why didn't they get Cyprien?" someone might have asked. I have a ... somewhat different answer to that question than one might expect: they still can.
Cyprien is still on the board and the 49ers, through virtue of clearance prices on the trades yesterday (except when Minnesota dealt, for some reason, and thanks Tre Faaborg for the "clearance" term), still have ammunition in the second round. They actually pick at No. 34, which is the second pick in that round.
Many people are pointing toward getting a defensive lineman and I totally understand that. Justin Smith won't be around much longer -- but there will be many more chances to get another defensive lineman. Safeties, on the other hand, are notoriously hard to pick out in drafts. In other words, the drafts are usually pretty weak on that front, and this is the best class we've seen in a long, long time at the position.
If there ever was a draft to load up on safety talent, it's this one. I'm dead serious. Dashon Goldson departed in free agency and yeah, the 49ers have replaced him to an extent with Reid. But what about Donte Whitner? He had a fantastic season in 2011, but slowed down a bit last year and was a real liability down the stretch. He might be good for another season, but he needs replacing.
I believe there are strong defensive linemen that the 49ers can draft near the end of the second round. There are some good ones at the beginning too, for sure. But personally, I believe that the top safeties available right now are still better than the top defensive linemen.
Let me put it this way: the 49ers absolutely should get another safety in rounds two or three. That is really ... hard to debate against, in my opinion. I just take it a step further and I think snaring Cyprien would be a huge get and would make for an excellent draft, regardless of what happens after that point. Reid and Cyprien would be quite the duo, especially if one of them (Cyprien) sits for a little while behind Whitner.
I'm interested to hear some counter-arguments on this. Aside from what was literally the top safety in each class, I've found the last several drafts completely and utterly underwhelming at the position. It's always the top guy or bust. This is the perfect opportunity to fill the need and -- wouldn't you know it -- it's not a reach, either.
(Sorry for the somewhat rushed piece, guys -- wrote this at the airport after the Reid pick coming back from my vacation. Go Niners!)
MORE DRAFT COVERAGE
- Early 49ers draft grades
- First Round Winners, Losers
- 49ers Pre-Draft Roster
- Prospect Scouting Reports
- Consensus Top-400 big board