San Francisco 49ers general manager Trent Baalke is a savvy orchestrator of draft-day dealings.
Since assuming the role as general of the 49ers war room during the time of the NFL draft in 2010, Baalke has made it readily apparent he is none too apprehensive in trading up or down for worthy prospects.
In 2010 he traded up for the Denver Broncos’ first-round pick (No. 11) in exchange for the 49ers’ first- (No. 13) and fourth-round (No. 113) picks. This maneuvering yielded them current right tackle Anthony Davis.
Baalke engaged the Broncos once again in a draft-day trade in 2011. He shipped the team’s second-round (No. 45), fourth-round (No. 108) and fifth-round (No. 141) picks for the Broncos’ second-rounder (No. 36). This 10-position move brought backup quarterback Colin Kaepernick to San Francisco.
Also occurring in this draft was the trade of the 49ers’ sixth- (No. 174) and seventh-round (No. 231) picks for the Packers’ fifth-sound selection (No. 163). The 49ers acquired Daniel Kilgore, the man currently competing for the starting position at right guard.
It is fairly likely the GM repeats these tendencies during NFL draft weekend of 2012. Don’t expect Baalke to move into the top 15 of the first round, but trading up as far as 20th overall is a reasonable projection.
Let’s satisfy our endless curiosity by reviewing five tantalizing prospects during the first five rounds that the 49ers should trade up for in this year’s draft.
Cordy Glenn is a monster of a man.
Cordy Glenn, OG/OT, Georgia
I foresee a team selecting Glenn anywhere between No. 20 and No. 30 in the 2012 draft.
Glenn is a big, talented and versatile O-line prospect capable of playing multiple positions. He fulfilled the duties of both guard positions and the all-important left tackle while at Georgia. This, along with his immense power, strength and agility, indicates his viability as a tackle or guard at the NFL level.
Scouts agree he is an excellent run-blocker, solid in pass protection and can at least assume a starting role at offensive guard, a position very much in need for the San Francisco 49ers.
Moving up as high as No. 20 overall to select Glenn would provide the 49ers with a bevy of options for their offensive line. He could serve as the catalyst for Kilgore’s ascension into the starting right guard, could take over the position himself or even start at right tackle by moving Davis inside.
I believe the 6’6’’, 345-pounder possesses immediate starter talent. It would only be logical to trade up for Glenn if the 49ers believed so as well.
Crick corralling a Kansas ball-carrier.
Jared Crick, DE, Nebraska
It is rather undeniable that the heart and soul of this 49ers team exists in its dominating defense.
The player that perhaps embodies it the most is Justin Smith, a top-three defensive playmaker in the NFL.
So, with a chance to draft his heir apparent in Jared Crick in the second round, wouldn’t Baalke pull the trigger?
That comparison might be a bit lofty and premature. On the other hand, Crick was a sure-fire first-round talent before sustaining a torn pectoral muscle that cut short his senior year.
And at 6’4’’ and 279 pounds, he’s a relatively mirror image of the 6’4’’ 285-pound Smith.
So, again, selecting a player of his caliber—especially now that his stock is increasingly rising—in the second round is a no-brainer.
What Crick lacks in speed he makes up for with blue-collar toughness, sure tackling and a motor that refuses to quit. He is an intelligent player and chases opposing ball-carriers downfield and from sideline to sideline, a talent all too noticeable in Smith.
Crick would be an excellent rotational player at the 3-4 defensive end position. He’d also provide insurance in case Smith leaves in free agency in 2014.
Baalke should make it his business to move up into the mid- to low-50s to corral this awesome defensive player.
Brian Quick, WR, Appalachian State
ESPN Scouts Inc. said it best and most succinctly when it described Brian Quick as an “excellent blend of height, bulk and top-end speed.”
He possesses the obvious measurables and is a clear deep threat but also is a fairly sure-handed receiver who runs clean underneath routes. He’s a hard-worker and willing blocker—two skills so lauded by Jim Harbaugh and the 49ers coaching staff.
Moreover, he’s a complete receiver with great value in the third round. Some projections have him as high as pick No. 70, but many scouts placed a mid-third-round grade on Quick.
The 49ers sit at No. 91 in the third, so trading up to, say, No. 85 would be an astute move.
Quick could learn the nuances of the wide receiver position from an all-time great in Randy Moss (also strikingly similar in physical stature), as well as Mario Manningham and other veterans on the team.
I could even see him supplanting Kyle Williams on the depth chart.
Despite dominating a small-school conference, Quick is one of the more intriguing prospects in this year’s draft class.
Broyles is flying under the radar at this point in the pre-draft process.
Ryan Broyles, WR, Oklahoma
Some draft pundits might qualify this potential move as considerably outrageous since Broyles tore his left ACL in 2011.
I am not one of them.
Broyles is the NCAA’s all-time leader for career receptions with 349 receptions, not to mention coming just 400-plus yards short of the all-time yardage mark. Forty-five career touchdowns (Big 12 record) ain’t too shabby either.
He is a dual threat as both a receiver and a returner on special teams. His duct tape-like hands and eye-popping burst lend credence to those sentiments.
(More competition for Kyle Williams’ roster spot, anyone?)
Where Broyles’ ultimate value lies is that pre-injury, numerous scouts projected him being selected within the first two days of the draft. ESPN currently rates him as worthy of the 94th overall selection.
If he proves he is completely healed, it would only make sense for Baalke to move up from No. 125 to draft such a valuable, versatile and potentially game-changing player.
The idea of “risk versus reward” is surely a pivotal element in Broyles’ case.
Robert Turbin, RB, Utah State
It’s doubtful Turbin is still available in the fifth round, but if he is, you’re looking at the eventual every-down replacement for Frank Gore.
Gore fell and Turbin has fallen on his respective draft board due to injury concerns. Turbin missed all of 2007 with a busted foot and 2011 due to a torn ACL.
When on the field, however, he is a complete back that can shoulder the load. He’s built like an ox with a six-pack and runs with total downhill explosion. He blocks as well as the best of them and racked up 67 receptions for 845 yards and 11 touchdowns as a more than adequate pass-catcher during his collegiate days.
Couple that with more than 3,300 yards and 40 rushing touchdowns for his career.
ESPN lauds his ”leadership qualities and mental toughness” that earns him the respect of coaches and teammates. Sounds like Harbaugh, Gore and the rest of the squad would appreciate that.
It remains to be seen how far Turbin will drop come the draft at the end of the month. The 49ers should be overjoyed if he’s still on the board late on day three.