San Francisco 49ers: 5 Potential Draft-Day Trades

Bryan KnowlesContributor IIIMay 5, 2014

San Francisco 49ers: 5 Potential Draft-Day Trades

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    Nam Y. Huh/Associated Press

    The San Francisco 49ers have long been rumored to be looking to trade up in the 2014 NFL Draft. The 49ers have been linked to Baltimore at the No. 17 pick, Oakland at the No. 5 selection and everywhere in between.

    With 11 picks to their name and few gaping holes to fill, it would certainly be logical for the 49ers to trade up. Whom would they trade with, and what would they trade for? The answers to these questions will greatly alter San Francisco’s draft strategy.

    With that in mind, let’s look at five possible trade scenarios for San Francisco, ordered from biggest to smallest jumps. We’ll analyze what they’d have to trade to move up there, who they would be leapfrogging by making the move and which players would be available to pick at that point.

    As for which trade is best, that depends on your point of view. Trading up into the top five mortgages the future, but receives the best player in return. Moving three or four slots up doesn’t provide as many options for the team to draft, but can be done at a reasonable price.

    Let’s take a look, starting with some moves into the top 10.

Atlanta Falcons at the 6th Overall Pick

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    San Francisco receives:
    First-round pick, No. 6 overall (1600 points on the trade value chart)

    Atlanta receives:
    First-round pick, No. 30 overall (620 points)
    Second-round pick, No. 56 overall (340 points)
    Second-round pick, No. 61 overall (292 points)
    San Francisco’s 2015 first-round pick (~250-300 points)

    To move all the way up from the end of the first round to the front, the 49ers would have to give up a proverbial king’s ransom.

    Currently sitting with three picks in the top 61, the 49ers would likely have to give up all three, plus what’s likely to be a late pick in the first round next season to get this high.

    It wouldn’t necessarily be with the Falcons, either. Rumors have Atlanta trying to move up, so the team here could be someone like Houston or Jacksonville looking to stockpile more picks to rebuild their clubs. It would make more sense than the Falcons trying to move back, at least.

    Moving up to six would vault the 49ers over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Why is that important? That’s a likely landing place for Texas A&M receiver Mike Evans. He’d be a nice replacement for Mike Williams, who they traded away earlier this offseason.

    With his big body and thick frame, Evans would immediately make the team more efficient in the red zone. He’s also a more physical receiver than the other highly touted option, Sammy Watkins, making him perhaps a better option against Seattle’s rough secondary.

    He also has the added benefit of not going in the top-three selections, meaning it’s within the realm of rational possibility for the 49ers to go up and get him. I think the cost here is just too much, but if you believe the 49ers are just one receiver away from the Super Bowl, this is a trade for you.

Buffalo Bills at the 9th Overall Pick

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    San Francisco receives:
    First-round pick, No. 9 overall (1350 points)

    Buffalo receives:
    First-round pick, No. 30 overall (620 points)
    Second-round pick, No. 56 overall (340 points)
    San Francisco’s 2015 first-round pick  (~250-300 points)

    By trading with the Bills rather than the Falcons, San Francisco would likely manage to keep at least one of their second-round selections. They have a surplus in that round, thanks to the Alex Smith trade, so one pick is expendable.

    Next year’s draft isn’t quite a strong as this one, and the 49ers' Super Bowl window is open now, so it’d be trading the future for the present.

    Heading up to number nine cuts off the Detroit Lions and Tennessee Titans. If Mike Evans slips past the Buccaneers and the seventh pick, it’s highly unlikely he makes it past Detroit and number 10, so moving up could still give the 49ers Evans, if the draft broke properly.

    This would also be a place to target a defensive replacement. Both Justin Gilbert, the cornerback from Oklahoma State, and Anthony Barr, the outside linebacker from UCLA, are quite possible choices for either the Lions or Titans.

    Barr would be insurance in case Aldon Smith continued to have legal problems off the field, but the wiser choice would be Gilbert, arguably the top cornerback available in this year’s draft. He’s athletic and fast, and could keep up with the Percy Harvins of the world, while making up for the loss of Tarell Brown and Carlos Rodgers.

    This also seems like a bit too risky of a move for San Francisco—a move slightly out of character with their past strategies. Unless they could get a better deal than the trade value chart normally indicates, it’s giving up a lot for players who aren’t sure things.

    I’m not even convinced Gilbert’s the best cornerback in the draft class, for that matter. What this trade would do is give the 49ers free choice among all cornerbacks, be it Gilbert, Darqueze Dennard, Kyle Fuller, or anyone else they so fancied.

Chicago Bears at the 14th Overall Pick

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    San Francisco receives:
    First-round pick, No. 14 overall (1100 points)

    Chicago receives:
    First-round pick, No. 30 overall (620 points)
    Second-round pick, No. 56 overall (340 points)

    Saving all of their 2015 picks, the 49ers could slide up into the middle of the first round while still keeping a second-round and three third-round selections. That’s the benefit of having so many picks in one year—you can give up a lot and still have a normal set of picks.

    The New York Giants, St. Louis Rams and Chicago Bears are all decent trade possibilities between picks 12 and 14. All would be roughly equivalent in value for the 49ers, so they could try to get the best deal possible among the three teams.

    Why move up to the 12-14 slots? To jump the Pittsburgh Steelers, who have very similar needs to the 49ers. They need an immediate upgrade at cornerback and are still looking to replace Mike Wallace at the receiver position.

    The 49ers could slide right in front of them and take one of the players they’d be looking at—perhaps Darqueze Dennard, the cornerback from Michigan State, or Odell Beckham Jr, the wide receiver from LSU.

    Dennard would be my pick here; I think he’s the top cornerback available in the draft. He’s not as exceptional an athlete as Justin Gilbert, but his coverage skills and consistency are leaps and bounds ahead. He's not a project and could start immediately.

    This would be a fine move for one of the top players on my board.

Baltimore Ravens at the 17th Overall Pick

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    San Francisco receives:
    First-round pick, No. 17 overall (950 points)

    Baltimore receives:
    First-round pick, No. 30 overall (620 points)
    Second-round pick, No. 61 overall (292 points)

    This is my favorite possible trade for the 49ers, and better yet, it’s one that has been rumored to actually be happening, as opposed to being a purely hypothetical situation.

    It’s a similar move to what the 49ers made last year, when they jumped up to number 18 to take Eric Reid. It’s also a relationship that’s worked well in the past, with the 49ers acquiring Anquan Boldin for a sixth-round pick before last season.

    The same logic could see the 49ers working with the Cowboys again at the 16th overall selection. After making one successful trade last year, why not do it again in 2014?

    Either way, the main reasoning behind the trade would be to move them above the New York Jets, picking at number 18. Like the Steelers, the Jets have a very similar set of needs to San Francisco. They added Eric Decker to their team this offseason, but that still leaves them one starting receiver short. They also had to let go of Antonio Cromartie in a cost-saving maneuver, meaning a cornerback could be on tap, as well.

    The 49ers would probably be able to take either the third receiver on the board, after Mike Evans and Sammy Watkins, or the second or third cornerback. Trading with the Ravens rather than the Bears probably costs the 49ers one player they might want, but there’d still be plenty of choices available.

Miami Dolphins at the 19th Overall Pick

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    San Francisco receives:
    First-round pick, No. 19 overall (875 points)

    Miami receives:
    First-round pick, No. 30 overall (620 points)
    San Francisco’s 2015 first-round pick (250-300 points)

    There is a way to move up in the first round without losing any of the massive draft capital the team’s accumulated for this year’s draft. By trading the first-round picks in both this and next year’s draft, they could vault over a mass of teams picking in the 20s.

    If the 49ers do not make a move, they’ll spend most of the selections in the 20s watching players they want go off the board. 

    The Philadelphia Eagles at number 22 could take Odell Beckham Jr or Cody Latimer to replace the departed DeSean Jackson, or Kyle Fuller to upgrade over Cary Williams.

    The Cincinnati Bengals at number 24 will be looking to add a cornerback due to Leon Hall’s torn Achilles.

    The San Diego Chargers at number 25 are also looking to add to their secondary depth and could grab Kyle Fuller, Bradley Roby or Darqueeze Dennard, depending on how the cornerbacks shake out.

    The New Orleans Saints at number 27 could grab a pass rusher like Dee Ford, or find Brandin Cooks or Marqise Lee to start across from Marques Colston.

    The 49ers could skip past all of that heartache by jumping up to number 19. They’d get their pick of the second tier of receivers, or jump to a front of the run on cornerbacks. Either way, it’d likely be better than just sitting back at 30.