As we move closer to the 2017 NFL draft, speculation about whom the San Francisco 49ers might or should take with their hard-earned, number 2 overall pick is increasing. While there are certainly some nice defensive prospects to be had in the first round, here are reasons why the 49ers should trade down to best help the team:
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Myles Garrett is the only sure thing in this draft: Bottom line, after Myles Garrett there is very little certainty in the 2017 NFL draft. Sure, DE Solomon Thomas from Stanford has a lot of pro potential, graded well at the combine and is projected as a possible top-5 selection with several analysts predicting him going at number 2 to the 49ers; but he is by no means a sure thing and may be overvalued as a number two pick. In a draft without sure-fire prospects other than Garrett, it might make sense to have more picks rather than fewer, higher ones.
The 49ers specific draft needs and the 2017 class may warrant a higher volume of picks rather than fewer, higher picks: After free agency and a season fielding one of the leagues worst defenses, the 49ers most pressing needs are at cornerback, edge rusher and SAM linebacker for 4-3 defense, with additional needs at running back depth and the long-term project of finding the team’s franchise quarterback.
The 2017 NFL draft prospects happen to be particularly top-heavy at positions of the 49ers greatest roster needs at edge rusher and cornerback. Based on more available talent at these defensive positions and no sure things outside of Myles Garrett, it seems to make more sense to have more picks or prospects than higher picks in this draft. If the 49ers knew there was a franchise quarterback in the 2017 draft, one would expect them to take him at number 2. And while I expect the 49ers to select a quarterback in later rounds, they will not hold on to number 2 specifically to select a quarterback.
The 49ers are in rebuilding mode: 49ers are basically starting from scratch with a new GM, new coach and depleted roster. In a situation of building from the ground up, it makes more sense to have more options to work with than to put all of the eggs in one basket, particularly if that one basket is not Myles Garrett.
New GM John Lynch and HC Kyle Shanahan seem to be heading in the right direction with the 49ers, and based on their declaring that past picks will make no difference for future draft picks and their desire to completely overhaul the organization with needs at pretty much every aspect of the roster, one should not be surprised if they trade down from number 2 on draft day.