The San Francisco 49ers sit with a little less control than they would like at the top of this year’s draft. The Los Angeles Rams and Philadelphia Eagles both moved up to draft a quarterback, meaning the 49ers are not able to draft one of the top two quarterbacks themselves. And they are also just out of reach of being assured one of the 2016 draft class’ top four defenders. That is, unless one of the teams picking between 3 and 6 picks a player other than Jalen Ramsey, DeForest Buckner, Myles Jack, or Joey Bosa.
Enter Laremy Tunsil.
Considered the top pick before Los Angeles and Philadelphia started wheelbarrowing picks over to Tennessee and Cleveland, Tunsil holds the key to whether or not the 49ers are able to draft a defensive playmaker at the seventh spot.
It is entirely possible the 49ers draft Tunsil themselves. Joe Staley isn’t getting younger, and Anthony Davis must still be bedridden from that Baalke headache that’s prevented him from filing reinstatement papers.
If you're hoping the 49ers look to improve a defense that allowed an average of 26.3 points to divisional opponents, then you’re hoping a team between No. 3 and No. 6 picks Tunsil. With that in mind, let’s look at the completely non-scientific-because-I-made-it-up probability of each team between 3 and 6 drafting Tunsil.
San Diego Chargers
The Chargers defense was atrocious last year. They ranked 32nd against the run based on DVOA, and 29th overall. The team knows Rivers likely has just a few years of prime football left and they already have two starting-quality tackles in King Dunlap and Joe Barksdale. If I’m the Chargers general manager, I am targeting a defensive playmaker.
Tunsil Likelihood: 5%
The Cowboys have the best offensive line in football, so a tackle doesn’t make sense. The team’s biggest areas of need are on defense. The Cowboys only have one defensive end, DeMarcus Lawrence, under contract that’s recorded a sack. And he’s been suspended for the first four games of the season. Jones could also be draft-crushing on Ezekiel Elliot and try and get back that 2014 mojo. Either way, Tunsil doesn’t look like a good candidate for Dallas.
Tunsil Likelihood: 0%
Bonus Zeke Likelihood: 20%
Gus Bradley is a defensive coach with a terrible defense so his seat might get toasty in 2016 if he trots out another disappointment on defense. The offense is on an upward trajectory and has some definite playmakers at wide receiver. Their offensive line ranked 16th in adjusted line yards, so they aren’t a glaring issue. It makes sense that Jacksonville is looking defense with their pick.
Tunsil Likelihood: 5%
This is where it gets interesting. Starting left tackle Eugene Monroe only played in 17 of 34 games since signing a long term deal in 2014. While owner Steve Biscotti openly supported Monroe, there’s still doubt as to Monroe’s positional security. Drafting Tunsil allows Baltimore to rebuild their line immediately and eventually jettison Monroe if needed. Before trade-a-palooza the Ravens had no shot at Tunsil, but now he is definitely within their reach. The team definitely has holes on the defensive side, but if Tunsil slips all the way to six, then Ozzie Newsome will have a real decision on his hands.
Tunsil Likelihood: 55%