The 2017 NFL Draft is viewed as particularly strong on the defensive side of the ball. There are big names on the offensive side, but the depth is on defense. Given the depth there, and the question marks at quarterback and some of the offensive positions, it is not entirely surprising the San Francisco 49ers focused their free agent efforts on offense.
Is it possible the 49ers did so with plans on stacking up on defense in the draft? NFL Media draft analyst Chad Reuter put together his latest 2017 NFL mock draft and went five rounds. In addressing the 49ers picks, he focused on the defensive side, offering up only two offensive picks. Here are the seven players he drafted for the 49ers in the first five rounds.
1 (2). Solomon Thomas, DE, Stanford
2 (34). Zach Cunningham, ILB, Vanderbilt
3 (66). Tim Williams, OLB, Alabama
4 (109). Conor McDermott, OT, UCLA
4 (143). Jessamen Dunker, OG, Tennessee State
5 (146). Treston DeCoud, CB, Oregon State
5 (161). Avery Moss, OLB, Youngstown State
The only two offensive picks were a pair of offensive linemen in the fourth round. Otherwise, Reuter added four players for the front seven, and a cornerback.
If the 49ers have not drafted a quarterback, running back, or wide receiver in the first five rounds, odds are good they don’t think they have the impact options at their disposal they might otherwise prefer. You want to get something out of your late round picks, but in spite of the Tom Brady story, you’re not really counting on them turning into anything special.
The 49ers added DT Earl Mitchell, CB K’Waun Williams, and LB Malcolm Smith as potential starters or significant rotation guys. They certainly did not ignore the defensive side of the ball, but it felt like we saw significant changes on the offense. So, focusing more on defense in the draft is not necessarily completely out of the picture.
At the same time, would you expect them to walk away from the first five rounds without a single quarterback, wide receiver, or running back? We don’t know what their draft plan is, so nothing would shock me, but I would be a little surprised if a Kyle Shanahan led team did not address any of those areas before the final couple rounds.