To me, the biggest question of this draft is whether or not to trade up for Sammy Watkins. Yes, the price would be high, and, yes, we would not be able to address all of our other weaknesses as a result, but even with this steep cost, it's a scenario worth considering.
Before I get into the reasons for or against this bold type of move, I believe we probably would need to move up to the 5th pick to get Watkins. I just don't see him falling much further although an early run on QBs could push him a little further down the board. The question then becomes what would it take to get into that 5-10 range in the draft where he is likely to fall, and that's where it gets interesting.
Personally, I like stockpiling draft picks in the 2nd and 3rd round like Baalke has traditionally done because it gives you more chances to find a player, which obviously is advantageous in the imperfect and unpredictable world of the NFL Draft. That being said, it seems like this is a truly unique year with unique circumstances. By that I mean, we have--by all accounts--a very deep draft, and we have a very deep team with few spots available on the roster. And, because of this depth, it stands to reason that a team with many needs might be tempted to take less than they traditionally would in a move back. Given this, if we were to offer a team that has needs across the board--like, say, the Raiders--our own 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th, could we get all the way up to Watkins territory? Traditionally, we couldn't sniff the 5th pick with that offer, but it might be a different story this year with many teams looking to trade back and few looking to trade up.
The reasons for trading up are several. Watkins is viewed as one of the few sure-fire playmakers in this draft, possessing both the speed to stretch the field (which is one of the few things as a team we lack) and the size to compete with the Seattle secondary. Very few other receivers in this deep class possess both those elements, and none had the success at the collegiate level that Watkins had. Second, players drafted in this range are statistically far less likely to fail, and for all of Baalke's drafting successes, his track record at the wide receiver position remains bleak. If the wide receiver spot is truly Baalke's "blind spot" with respect to the draft, picking a consensus sure thing might not be a bad idea. And, lastly, we have been to NFC Championship game three years in a row and the Superbowl once, and we don't have any rings to show for it. Sammy Watkins could be the type of player that can elevate our squad past Seattle and push us to the top of the mountain. If management believes this, I could see Trent pushing all of his chips to the center of the table to get Watkins.
The reasons for not making this move are equally compelling. First and foremost, we are a successful team with a lot of good players. Inevitably, the time comes to pay these players, and an unforgiving salary cap forces many tough decisions. In a situation like this, the only way to stay successful over the long haul is to wisely replace players using young, cheap talent found in the draft. In a deep draft, we can address several positions that are currently weak (CB and WR) and several others that will soon be depleted due to age and salary cap defections (DL, OL, and S). Going after Watkins would limit the team's ability to do this as a trade up would require a massive amount of draft currency. Also, there is always the chance that Watkins could be a bust. If we traded up and missed, it would be a colossal blow to the future of the franchise. Lastly, Watkins did a significant amount of his damage at Clemson on screen passes, and for what ever reason, Roman doesn't seem to want to use this play. Thus, Watkins might not be a great fit for the offense.
All that being said, if I were Baalke, I would do lots of research on what exactly it would take to move up this year because if he can find one team that is willing to take less than the traditional amount because of the dynamics of this draft, it might be the perfect time to swing for the fences.