The NFL draft is serious business.
Forget about free agency; this is how franchises and dynasties are built, particularly for the San Francisco 49ers, who have 16 homegrown starters on offense and defense, not including the team's lauded punter Andy Lee, who is the only All-Pro drafted in the sixth round since 2001.
This is a team with no shortage of talent—virtually on the cusp of running the table every single year—as its best players have been hand-picked at Radio City.
In the upcoming 2014 draft, the team is expecting to have 13 selections at its disposal, per Matt Maiocco of CSN Bay Area. This will be for a second time in a row, making this general manager Trent Baalke’s time to shine, which he has done time and time again.
Sure, he’s had a few misses here and there, but he’s helped build a bully. And he'll look to amend his past blunders, so we can sort of gauge how the 49ers will approach the draft this time around.
With that many picks last year, San Francisco traded up three times in the first 88 picks and still over-drafted talented players (see Kansas City Chiefs' Marcus Cooper and Seattle Seahawks' B.J. Daniels). It’ll execute a number of trades again, likely near the front of the draft where the quality lies.
The 49ers are not looking to make other teams better by selecting too many names. They're still also adding bodies from the 2013 class.
With all their ammunition and how deep this draft is at positions they need, the 49ers are one of the clear threats to kill this draft at the top.
The following mock draft will take into account the possible free-agent losses of safety Donte Whitner and wideout Anquan Boldin, as well as others.
The identity of this draft presents too good of an opportunity for the 49ers to save a substantial sum of cap space while improving yet again.
Remember, the 49ers have to re-sign nearly the entire 2011 draft class, which potentially includes a $100 million quarterback, plus Michael Crabtree. With this draft, the 49ers look to save money, provide leverage in contract talks with current players and restock the offense for the future, while at the same time preparing for the loss of a couple key players on the defensive side.
Finally, as opposed to the 2012 draft, the 49ers picked up a lot of big-name talent in 2013, and it looks like one of their best classes yet. Most should expect the team to take a similar approach this year, putting together another high-quality draft that's perhaps even more talented with fewer players.
Mock Draft Outline
- Impact: So often, the 49ers draft players who have no influence or role on the team whatsoever. The team needs to find new, exciting talent that gives the 49ers a reason to get them involved right away.
- Addressing Needs: They may be deep, but the 49ers have needs to fill like any other team.
- Draft Philosophy: Looking at past drafts, we’ll pick players and execute moves that best suit this team’s true philosophical approach.
- Positional Consistency: The 49ers have had success picking cornerbacks, as well as undrafted free-agent linemen, in between Rounds 3-7. Their strengths will afford them the luxury of waiting on certain positions while picking others sooner.