With the NFL Draft looming next month, and no recent signings to report, the San Francisco 49ers appear to be done with free agency (possibly outside of bringing back Brandon Lloyd) and are turning their attention towards the draft, and there’s plenty for the Faithful to feel optimistic about.
The Niners enter the Draft with 11 picks at their disposal, and it shouldn’t shock anyone if they decide to move some of those on or before Day 1. Todd McShay sent the fan base into a frenzy when he suggested the 49ers could move up to as high as fifth to try and draft Sammy Watkins (Clemson). Although that seems highly unlikely, if San Francisco feels Watkins has Julio Jones potential, they could pull an Atlanta Falcons and swap picks with the Oakland Raiders. The silver and black have already signed last year’s starting corners for the 49ers, Carlos Rogers and Tarell Brown, so it would only make sense that the Raiders would be the team to take all those picks off of the Niners hands, although Oakland will almost certainly use the pick on a quarterback.
In the likely event the 49ers don’t shoot all the way up to a top 5 selection in the draft, they could still move up in the first round. They did so last year, moving up to 19th to draft Eric Reid, a first year success replacing Dashon Goldson. It wouldn’t surprise me if the red and gold pull off a similar move this year, electing to shore up their secondary. Some cornerbacks that could end up with the 49ers include Kyle Fuller (Virginia Tech), Jason Verrett (TCU), & Darqueze Dennard (Michigan State).
If they still trade up but elect to go by way of the offense, look for the Niners to try and grab Brandin Cooks (Oregon State) or Odell Beckham Jr. (LSU). Cooks is a speedy wideout with good hands and was named last year’s Belitnikoff winner as the nation’s top receiver. His draft stock has been on the rise, but his smaller stature has some teams worried. However, he has all the makings of a solid slot receiver, something the 49ers are in desperate need of. Beckham is appealing to San Francisco due to his special teams skills and upward trends in offense over his three seasons with the Tigers. Despite average size, Beckham makes up for it with a wide catching radius. In laymen’s terms, you put it near him, he’ll make the catch.
The third scenario is the team stands pat at the 30th overall selection. This move would surprise me the most given the 49ers need help at receiver, corner, defensive tackle and added depth on the offensive line. However, if they don’t make any moves, Kelvin Benjamin (Florida State), who gained national attention when he pulled in the game-winning touchdown grab in the BCS National Title game for the Seminoles, may be the Niners best option. Benjamin is a big target at 6’5 and 243 lbs., and would certainly give the 49ers a boost when it comes to taking on teams with bigger, physical corners.
With plenty of picks to play with, San Francisco has plenty of breathing room.
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