The 2014 NFL Draft is just barely in our rear view mirror, but even the San Francisco 49ers are ready to begin preparations for the 2015 NFL Draft. In his closing comments Saturday evening, Baalke was asked about the evaluation process and whether the team considers the next year's class in making draft decisions this year. He said it is relatively unpredictable, and then closed with this:
All I know is in two weeks now, because the NFL’s done such a good job of pushing this thing back, we’re getting on a plane and going to Florida to start on next year’s class already. Can hardly wait.
The line about the NFL doing such a good job probably requires sarcasm font.
I'm guessing Baalke is not a big fan of mock drafts, but that does not mean we can't take a look at SB Nation's 2015 NFL mock draft! Dan Kadar put together a quick mock draft immediately following the close of this year's draft. He based the draft order on Bovada's Super Bowl odds. In the past he's actually gotten complaints about where he slots a team, so this makes it a little easier for now. Mocking the Draft won't be back with another mock for some time, but this will be a fun baseline once we get into next winter and spring.
In his mock, Dan has Nebraska defensive end Randy Gregory going first, and quarterbacks Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota going second and third. For the 49ers, he has them grabbing Alabama guard Arie Kouandijo. Given the additions of Brandon Thomas and Marcus Martin, I would not foresee the 49ers drafting a guard in the first round, but obviously so much can change over the next year.
The next mock draft we look at probably will not come until late in the 2014 season. Between now and then, the 49ers will deal with injuries, contract extensions, and potentially even some trades. The 49ers currently are looking at the following players as 2015 free agents:
CB Chris Cook
WR Michael Crabtree
CB Chris Culliver
DL Demarcus Dobbs
DT Glenn Dorsey
QB Blaine Gabbert
RB Frank Gore
RB Kendall Hunter
OG Mike Iupati
QB Colin Kaepernick
WR Brandon Lloyd
WR David Reed
OLB Dan Skuta
OL Adam Snyder
S C.J. Spillman
FB Will Tukuafu
S Raymond Ventrone
TE Garrett Celek
LB Michael Wilhoite
DT Tony Jerod-Eddie
They will re-sign some of these players, they will let some of them walk, and some might not even make the 2014 opening day roster. That's one reason it's so difficult to project a year out. And of course, just the fact that the draft isn't for another year makes it a little over the top to project out.
The 49ers tentatively hold seven picks in the 2015 NFL Draft:
The 49ers traded their own seventh round pick to the Miami Dolphins for offensive lineman Jonathan Martin. If Martin makes the roster out of training camp, the Dolphins get the pick. If Martin does not make the roster out of training camp, the 49ers do not give up the pick.
The 49ers also traded their fourth round pick for Buffalo Bills wide receiver Stevie Johnson. That pick is conditional based I believe on Johnson's performance. The pick can become a third based on performance standards of which I am not aware. That means they will give up a pick no matter what, it's just a question of whether it's a fourth or a third.
The 49ers are also in line for two compensation picks next season. The team had a lot of free agent movement to and from the roster, but four players impact the comp pick formula. Not all free agent additions and subtractions count toward the formula. The most notable that are not included are 1-year veteran minimum players (Chris Cook, Mario Manningham, Colt McCoy and Brandon Lloyd) and players that were released (Carlos Rogers). That leaves the 49ers with one addition in Antoine Bethea, and three losses in Donte Whitner, Anthony Dixon and Tarell Brown. They all received deals worth enough to impact the formula.
That means the 49ers will have nine picks, with seven able to be traded. Where this could get even more interesting is if the team makes any trades during training camp. This roster is fairly loaded, which means the team might decide to do what they did last year in trading Cam Johnson and Parys Haralson. Even if they are only netting a sixth or seventh round pick, such deals can help get the team in position to do even more dealing next year.