The 2011 NFL Draft is just a mere weeks away, and all 32 teams are rummaging around to evaluate last-minute prospects and revise their big boards in preparation for arguably the most important event of the offseason.
The San Francisco 49ers are in an interesting position with the No. 7 pick, and with it, they could go in a number of ways.
With so much talent in this year's class, there are sure to be a couple of big-time players to choose from ranging from Marcell Dareus to A.J. Green.
So what should they do? Well, here's my two cents on it.
If one of the top two quarterbacks in Newton or Blaine Gabbert are available, I feel it's a no-brainer. The 49ers haven't had stability at the position since Jeff Garcia in 2002. Coincedentally, they haven't qualified for the playoffs since either. In a league that's rapidly becoming more and more pass heavy, it's critical for a team to secure a franchise quarterback if they hope to be successful.
While balance is key, those days of relying on a dominant run game to get by are over. That said, if the golden opportunity presents itself, then there's absolutely no way that the Niners can pass it up.
If that scenario doesn't play out, which is very likely considering the first five teams selecting all have need at the position, then I'd say look at the best defensive player available.
On the 49ers board, it's probably between Texas A&M OLB Von Miller and LSU CB Patrick Peterson. Of course, it's not a guarantee that either will be available.
Miller has skyrocketed up the rankings through this process, and he may be drafted as high as No. 3 to the Buffalo Bills. Meanwhile, Peterson is arguably the best cornerback prospect to come out of college since Champ Bailey. But remember when Michael Crabtree fell down to the 49ers at No. 10 back in 2009? Point being, crazier things have happened.
So, to make this argument and for simplicity sake, let's just say that both are available. Who should they pick out of the two? Well, it'll be a tough call.
The 49ers undeniably need help improving their pass defense unit since they surrendered 231.1 yards through the air per game which is the ninth most in the NFL and allowed opposing quarterbacks to complete 65.1 percent of their passes which ranks third.
Interestingly enough, they were amongst the top half as they registered 36 sacks which was good to tie them for 14th in the league. Nevertheless, they lacked an elite edge rusher. Pro Bowlers Justin Smith and Patrick Willis had 8.5 and six sacks respectively, but other than that nobody had more than five.
In the 3-4 defensive scheme that the club employs, the outside linebackers are typically responsible for getting after the quarterback. Just take a look at the Cowboys DeMarcus Ware or the Packers Clay Matthews. On the flip side, the 49ers don't have a single dominating force. So, bringing one in is certainly a top priority.
Yet in the secondary, they've got a bit of a void as well. Nate Clements and Shawntae Spencer were the 49ers starting corners last season, and neither played to a level that garners long-term security. For Clements especially (who by the way coughed up a critical game against the Falcons), his eight-year $80 million contract is getting into that overpaid range in relation to his services.
That being so, it's time to find a replacement. If the 49ers can find their version of Darrelle Revis or Nnamdi Asomugha, then it'd do wonders for their defense which is why Peterson is such a lucrative option.
So as you can see, their are equally pressing needs at both OLB and CB which need to be filled and can be with either of those players. In my opinion, both are fantastic talents and would provide a unique skillset. Von Miller would be the valuable sack artist and Peterson would be the shutdown corner.
Putting all factors into play, I'd say Peterson would be the wiser choice.
In the worst case possible, if neither are there, then I'd say their best bet would be to trade back a few spots and hope they can land Prince Amukamara. If there aren't any suitors, then they may have to settle for UNC Robert Quinn and figure out how to deal with his off-the-field concerns.
That aside, I'll say that the 49ers take CB Patrick Peterson with the No. 7 overall selection in this month's upcoming draft