The San Francisco 49ers have nine picks in the upcoming draft, starting with the ninth overall pick, and based on last year’s excellent haul John Lynch should be able to really bolster this roster.
There’s one glaring problem though. The team traded their second round pick away for some backup quarterback, if you can believe that! Maybe it was worth it. But be that as it may, there’s a huge gap of 50 picks from their first pick to their only second round pick (#27), acquired from the New Orleans Saints last year.
Then San Francisco has three picks bunched together in the late 2nd and early 3rd rounds — #59, 70 and 74 overall — in a draft that’s more impressive in the second tier than in first round sure things. So the question is, should they package two or even three of those picks to move up higher in the second round? (Or trade down from #9 to get two or even three picks in that range?)
Here are some players to look at in different sections of that range. Which ones do you think are worth trading up for?
How much will it cost?
If you go by the NFL draft trade value chart , moving up in the second round is a lot cheaper than moving up in the first.
For example, jumping from #9 to #1 overall would cost 1,650 “points” - the equivalent of a #5 overall first round pick. Put another way, that’s about double the value of all of the Niners other eight picks put together.
Even going from #9 overall to #6 would cost 250 points — a bit more than the value of the Niners first pick in round 3 (6th in that round, or #70 overall).
Those same 250 points, though, would jump the Niners from #27 in the second round , where they sit now, up to #2 in that round (in other words, from #70 to #34 overall). That’s a big jump in talent.
Their lower 3rd round pick — #74 overall — is worth 220 points, enough to boost that second round pick up to #5 in the round (#37 overall).
So who could they nab with such a trade? Here are some groupings by draft range. I focused on the team’s consensus needs: edge, interior offensive line, cornerback and wide receiver.
Rising With a Bullet
The Combine boosted a number of players who looked headed for upper second round picks. Now they’re more likely in the bottom half of the first, so a trade down is more likely to nab them. But a package of picks, or a pick and a decent player could probably get ‘em.
Harold Landry has been widely mocked to SF, and some good measurements at the combine have improved his stock, but I think the 49ers would be wise to pass. His bump may have helped the team dodge a bullet. As Dylan DeSimone says:
I have two main concerns about Harold Landry.— Dylan DeSimone (@DylanADeSimone) March 8, 2018
1. Teams run right at him (successfully).
2. Like @BenFennell_NFL said, too often OTs anticipate his loop, redirect him, and he overruns the sack. That can leave one side of the field wide open.
Denzel Ward (CB, Ohio State) and Jaire Alexander (CB, Louisville) may have risen all the way up to the team’s #9 pick, if John Lynch is sold on their talent. More likely they might be good value in a trade down scenario, if they last that long.
Everybody loves Quenton Nelson as a dominating guard, but he’ll likely be gone even before the Niners pick at #9. Will Hernandez (G, UTEP) might be nearly as good around pick #18, especially if you can get another pick by trading back.
Perfect Trade Up Targets
These guys looks like strong scheme fits for San Francisco with exemplary talent. You can wait until 59-70, but everyone there will have at least one red flag — an injury history, talent flaw, or attitude that needs adjustment. The following dudes might be worth two of those flawed fellows, which is what you will have to give up to get one of them.
Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU is big (at 6’3”, 218) and productive (3,220 yards, 31 TDs) but the Combine demonstrated that he’s also athletic (6.57 3-cone, 84th percentile in SPARQ.) The rest you can coach.
Josh Sweat was the best-testing edge rusher at the Combine. No brainer for the Niners, right? Well, he has a rough injury history and is raw on technique. But technique is coachable, while a 4.53 40-yard dash and 39.5” vertical jump are not.
James Daniels (C/OG, Iowa) is versatile, young (20, a true junior) and mobile. He’d be a good fit, and might even move up to the “trade down from #9” category.
Better To Wait
These are good players, but I’d rather have two of them than trade up for one. There’s a very good chance they’ll fall into that range where SF has strength, which happens to be where Lynch found Akhello Witherspoon last year. Three players like that instead of two is a big plus, so I’m willing to risk losing one of these guys to get an extra one of the bunch.
Royce Freeman, RB, Oregon
I got into football writing as an Oregon fan, and Freeman is the best RB ever on a team that produced LeGarrette Blount, LaMichael James, De’Anthony Thomas and Kenjon Barner — all in the last ten years.
He’s big (5’11”, 234), quick (3rd in this class for 3-cone and 20 yard shuttle), and an able pass catcher with 79 receptions in his career. Lance Zierlein at NFL.com says a lot of nice things about him but has two notes that might concern the 49ers staff: he has a lot of miles, with over 1,000 carries in college, and “Hip tightness prevents him from consistently slipping leg tackles on perimeter runs.” For a scheme built on outside zone runs, instead of the inside zone that Oregon favored, that will be a problem.
Bo Scarbrough of Alabama is a similar player who might be better suited to the outside zone, and available in the same range.
Allen Lazard (WR, Iowa State) might be a good fit on a team lacking tall receivers. He’s 6’5”, 227, and racked up yards (3,360) and TDs (26) in college. He’s not that fast (4.55 in the 40) but the Niners might have role that covered between recently extended Marquise Goodwin and presumptive FA acquisition Taylor Gabriel.
At CB, Quenton Meeks (Stanford) might be a good, cheap upgrade. This coach’s son is predictably smart and definitely big (6’2”). He’s also versatile, playing press man and cover 3 well. Not the most athletic CB around, but definitely an upgrade on Dontae Johnson if the team finds more impressive value at other positions.
OG/C Billy Price suffered an “incomplete pec[toral muscle] tear” at the Combine pushing weights, but it should be healed by training camp. This might make him good value for a team that really needs to upgrade it’s OL, but there’s no reason to give up a player chasing him.
That’s my take. Do you see any players worth trading up for?