Mock drafts have become the ultimate inexact science. While we can bicker about player evaluations, where we think a guy goes and how far a team will trade up or down, we ultimately have little idea what will happen from May 8-10 in New York.
In one of the more loaded draft classes in years, the dynamics change a bit. Teams short on depth may be looking to trade down more than they would be in previous seasons, and it may take less capital from a team moving up to get it done. In a draft especially flush in wide receiver and cornerback talent, the 49ers have a number of different ways they could go.
With a roster loaded with talent, and offering almost zero guarantee to offer a starting position to a rookie, they could sit back, wait and just add depth to the receiving corps and secondary, their two neediest position groups. In addition to moving from No. 31 to No. 18 last season, GM Trent Baalke also made two other moves up in the top 100 to grab Vance McDonald and Corey Lemonier. He’s already traded a sixth rounder for Blaine Gabbert, but the Niners’ GM has at least 10 more selections to work with before the compensatory picks have been handed out. All told, the 49ers could have six picks in the top 100.
I’d expect Baalke to be active again, but that’s why he may take his foot off the gas pedal. I could see the 49ers trading one or two of their Day 1 or Day 2 picks for potential first or second rounders in next year’s draft. With 2015 looking like the first season the Niners will have to pay Colin Kaepernick an inflated salary cap number, piling up draft picks is important for building the team around a highly-paid quarterback. There will be tough cap casualties when Kap is making $18 to $20 million per season.
But Baalke has never been afraid to move up and down the draft, so there’s likely to be plenty of moving parts in May. In such a deep draft class, there will still be a number of talented guys who will likely fall down the draft board. Baalke has never been shy to go get his guy, so I’d set the over/under of 49ers draft day trades at 4.5 -- and take the over.
That’s what makes figuring out a Niners mock so difficult, so I’ll do mine with a few caveats.
First, I’m making five picks for the Niners because I fully believe they’ll end up trading away the majority of their later picks to move up or acquire picks for next season. Due to trades, I won’t specify where each pick is made, but I’ll provide a range of picks and reasoning. Next, I won’t provide specifics on trades because there will be plenty. I’ll leave the intricate details to the men making moves on draft weekend.
Alright, let’s take a look at a few players who may be wearing the red and gold following the draft in May.