With the 2013 NFL Draft just two months, it is imperative that the San Francisco 49ers address any holes they feel necessary via free-agency as they prepare for this year’s draft. Whether that’s signing a top flight cornerback or veteran defensive lineman, the 49ers will surely need to manage their salary cap, as they are projected to have 15 draft picks at their disposal. The 49ers who are already loaded with talent, will be looking to add depth across the board. So with 15 picks, what should the Niners do? I believe the answer is to trade up!
While conventional wisdom tells teams to trade down and stockpile as many picks as possible, the 49ers are at a point where they can afford the luxury of targeting certain players in the earlier rounds. The NFL only allows for a 53-man active roster, leaving the 49ers with more than enough picks to trade. Under no circumstance will you see 15 rookies make the current 49ers roster, it just won’t happen. Furthermore, by trading up you will gain quality over quantity, making the 49ers that much better. 49ers General Manager Trent Baalke is a great evaluator of talent and if his scouting department feels a player is worthy of sacrificing a two-for-one trade, he will pull the trigger.
Secondly, by trading up for specific players it will breed more competition within the locker room. We all know head coach Jim Harbaugh loves competition, and by drafting the very best, it will create numerous training camp battles during the off-season, a great indicator of a Super Bowl team. Last year, RG Alex Boone had to fend off veterans Leonard Davis and Daniel Kilgore before eventually being named RG Adam Snyder’s successor, and this year should be no different.
The Niners weakest link seems to be on the defensive side of the ball, specifically along the defensive line and secondary. This bodes well for them, as this year’s draft class is among the deepest at those positions. After DE Damontre Moore, Bjoern Werner, and DT Star Loutleilei, there is not a significant drop in production from the defensive line, as DT Sharrif Floyd, DT Kawaan Short, DT Sheldon Richardson, DT Sylvester Williams, NT John Jenkins, DE Datone Jones, and DE Alex Okafor are all rated comparatively. In addition, at least one of them should be available at the 31st pick. And if not, the 49ers have the ammo to trade up and draft that coveted prospect, as they now hold the 31st, 34th, and 63rd overall picks in this year’s draft.
Whether or not the 49ers trade up remains unclear. However it would be wise for them to draft quality over quantity, as there is absolutely no room for 15 rookies on a Super Bowl roster, just ask last year’s rookies WR A.J. Jenkins and RB LaMichael James.