Compensatory Draft Pick Awarded Helps Rich Get Richer
If it weren't for the Browns, no one would be better positioned in the NFL Draft than the 49ers.
San Francisco earned one of the 32 compensatory draft picks awarded on Monday -- the 36th pick in the third round, the 100th pick overall. That gives the Niners, already one of the top teams in the NFL, six picks in the top 100. They have their own pick in the first (No. 30), second (No. 61) and third rounds (No. 94), plus picks acquired in trades with the Chiefs (No. 56) and Titans (No. 77).
Other teams were granted more compensatory picks, given annually to make up for losing quality free agents the previous offseason. Baltimore received four additional picks, as did the Jets, who now have three picks in the fourth round and four in the sixth.
But San Francisco now has a half-dozen shots at top-100 prospects in what is the deepest draft in recent years. Especially at the two positions where the Niners need the most help: wide receiver and cornerback.
There's an argument to be made for keeping every one of those picks and loading up on young talent that will help keep the roster from aging the 49ers out of contention. There's just as compelling an argument to be made for packaging a couple of picks and moving up in the draft, maybe high enough to take one of the top receivers in the draft, a vertical threat to complement Anquan Boldin and Michael Crabtree. Maybe an Odell Beckham or the top slot receiver available, Brandin Cooks.
The beauty is San Francisco can be aggressive as the draft unfolds. If there's someone they've set their sights on and they want to make a move up to get him, they should be able to offer a greater package of picks than just about anybody else in the league.
Yes, Cleveland actually is set up better for the draft than the Niners. The Browns have five of the first 83 picks (Nos. 4, 26, 35, 71, 83). They can get impact players at every spot, players who fill needs and still bring value. In those five picks, they'll get a young quarterback, add a top-tier receiver prospect to bookend Josh Gordon (and they already added Andrew Hawkins), land a cornerback to play opposite Joe Haden and probably pick up a running back (Ben Tate was a great free agent signing but is hardly a proven No.1. back).
Cleveland is in great shape. But the compensatory pick puts San Francisco in the rarest of positions -- an already rich team that stands to get much richer.