Between the 92nd pick and the 125th pick, the San Francisco 49ers traded down three times and traded back up once, adding 2013 third-, fifth- and sixth-round picks from Carolina, Indianapolis and Miami, respectively. While the extra picks are a nice commodity to have, we may look back on the flurry of trades as a big mistake by GM Trent Baalke.
The 49ers had two opportunities to select Delaware OL Gino Gradkowski: at No. 92, and then after they traded down from No. 92 to No. 97. They decided to trade down again from No. 97 to No. 103 for No. 196 and a pick in 2013. That trade cost them Gradkowski because Baltimore selected him at No. 98, a pick they acquired from Minnesota in exchange for moving from No. 29 to No. 35.
Gradkowski's last name is familiar to football fans because of his big brother, Cincinnati QB Bruce Gradkowski. He was Baltimore Director of Player Personnel Eric DeCosta's favorite pick of the draft:
“He was a sleeper player for us who was a consensus favorite amongst the scouts and coaches. I think he’s smart and a tough guy, physical, very good athlete.”
Former Ravens' scout Daniel Jeremiah thinks Gradkowski could be the team's center of the future:
RT @jdon19: Did you scout Ravens OL pick Gradkowski? --Yep, he's athletic and nasty. Eventual starting Center for BAL
— Daniel Jeremiah (@MoveTheSticks) May 3, 2012
The Ravens will start him out at guard, but according to Baltimore Sun writer Matt Vensel, they have indicated that, like Jeremiah, they see him as a center in the future.
Why should 49ers fans care what the Ravens think of Gradkowski? Because it gives them an idea of what they might have missed out on.
Matt Maiocco of CSN Bay Area reports that Baalke "had a noticeable reaction" when Baltimore took Gradkowski. If San Francisco's GM liked Gradkowski enough to be disappointed when he missed out on him, was a couple of extra sixth-round picks really worth risking him? Unless later fourth-round guard Joe Looney is a hit or Gradkowski is a bust, this sequence could go down as one the 49ers regret.
Even if they hit on their extra 2013 picks, they are in a championship window and need help now.