NFL mock drafts come in all shapes and sizes, and that impacts the context we provide to a given mock. We might see a one-round mock, a three-round mock, or even a seven-round mock. Some people mix in trades, while others do not. Mock drafts are really just exercises to help us try and better understand different aspects of the draft.
Sports Illustrated NFL writer Don Banks posted his third 2015 NFL mock draft recently, and he decided to include a handful of trades. He made three trades, swapping picks between 1) the San Francisco 49ers and Oakland Raiders, 2) the San Diego Chargers and Tennessee Titans, and 3) the Dallas Cowboys and Cincinnati Bengals.
The Chargers climbed up to No. 2 to take Marcus Mariota, and that was followed by the Jacksonville Jaguars grabbing Dante Fowler. With Leonard Williams slipping to No. 4, Banks has the 49ers pouncing on the guy most consider the best defensive tackle in the draft. Banks had this to say:
With one of the draft's biggest prizes in Williams still available, the Raiders should have the opportunity to field offers while on the clock. Passing on a receiver like Kevin White or Amari Cooper won't be easy for Oakland, but I think Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie will survey his board and realize he can still get a quality starter for his defense at No. 15 plus acquire more picks to supplement his rebuilding project. The 49ers are motivated by the chance to add an elite difference-maker to a defensive line that has lost starter Ray McDonald and will probably see Justin Smith follow through on his retirement plans. Even with Darnell Dockett signed, this is a move that makes sense for the future. Dockett will be 34 this spring and is coming off ACL surgery that cost him 2014.
There has been plenty of chatter about whether or not the 49ers will make a move up. The most notable instance of discussion surrounds the Amari Cooper rumor. But whether the 49ers would want to climb up for Cooper, Williams or anybody else, what are the odds Trent Baalke would actually be willing to pay the price for that kind of move?
As general manager, Baalke has made two moves up in the first round. In 2010, he packaged a fourth round pick to climb from No. 12 to No. 10 and draft Anthony Davis. In 2013, he packaged a third round pick to move up from No. 31 to No. 18. That is a sizable move up, but it is likely going to be significantly cheaper to climb those 13 spots, than it would be to climb from no. 15 into potentially the top five.
We talk about these trade rumors, and they are interesting and fun, but given Baalke's history, would they actually happen? The 49ers currently have nine draft picks. We know Trent Baalke enjoys maneuvering around the draft board. That is a given. But we also know he covets draft picks. Does he buck the trend and make a power move up the draft board? Or does he let it come to him at No. 15?