2018 NFL Draft: Why 49ers should consider trading down with Buffalo Bills

Head coach Kyle Shanahan of the San Francisco 49ers with general manager John Lynch (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)
Head coach Kyle Shanahan of the San Francisco 49ers with general manager John Lynch (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images) /

The San Francisco 49ers are now forming their plans for the upcoming NFL Draft in April. Niner Noise makes the case why the team should trade down its ninth or 10th overall pick with the Buffalo Bills.

General manager John Lynch and the San Francisco 49ers front office hope to follow up the success of their 2017 NFL Draft class. Cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon and tight end George Kittle were among the few players who stood out with the team.

Throughout the entire league, San Francisco’s 2017 rookie class collectively had the most snaps, according to Pro Football Focus.

The New Orleans Saints’ 4,267 rookie snaps were the closest to the 49ers’ total of 5,033:

San Francisco has another chance of improving its roster with another formidable draft class this year.

Especially by having the ninth or 10th overall pick, depending on a coin toss with the Oakland Raiders at the NFL Scouting Combine, the 49ers are in excellent position to address their team needs.

Different mock drafts have projected the 49ers to take prospects such as Georgia linebacker Roquan Smith and Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson with the ninth or 10th overall pick.

Although, in the case the Niners decide to trade down their first-round pick, a deal with the Buffalo Bills would make sense.

The Trade

Buffalo owns two consecutive draft picks for the 2018 NFL Draft. The Bills have their original pick at the No. 21 spot and received the 22nd overall selection from the Kansas City Chiefs.

Kansas City traded its 2018 first-round pick to move up the draft and acquire quarterback Patrick Mahomes in 2017. This year, the Bills might try to trade up themselves to obtain a better draft position.

Negotiating with San Francisco is a possibility, especially if the 49ers have already addressed their positional needs through free agency.

If the Niners decide to trade down, they would likely ask for Buffalo’s two first-round picks. To make it fair, San Francisco might offer a 2018 third- or fourth-round pick as well.

Therefore, here is the potential trade:

Why trading down makes sense for San Francisco

The 49ers still have a large amount of cap space even after signing quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo to a five-year deal worth $137.5 million.

San Francisco is still projected to have about $74.5 million available in cap space, according to Over the Cap.

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  • With this money, the 49ers will likely pursue big-name players to help address their needs. NFL.com also determined San Francisco as one of the most desirable free-agent destinations, considering the team’s recent success.

    If the 49ers solve their issues through free agency, their priorities for the draft may change. As a result, the front office might consider trading down.

    Having the 21st and 22nd overall picks, the Bills are the ideal team San Francisco should consider trading with. Although the 49ers would lose their top 10 pick, they will acquire two first-round picks in return.

    The last third of the first round will still feature a plethora of remarkable prospects.

    Some key players the Niners can take with those two picks include UTSA defensive end Marcus Davenport, Alabama linebacker Rashaan Evans, Colorado cornerback Isaiah Oliver and LSU running back Derrius Guice.

    If Lynch chooses to take another calculated risk this year and trade down with the Bills, they will get two top-tier players who can contribute to the 49ers’ quest for their sixth ring.

    Why trading up makes sense for Buffalo

    One of the Bills’ most glaring needs is a quarterback. After another mediocre performance in 2017, QB Tyrod Taylor does not seem to be the answer in Buffalo.

    Thus, the Bills might look to acquire a potential franchise quarterback in this year’s draft and move on from Taylor.

    Buffalo’s passing offense only ranked 31st in total yards and 27th in touchdowns in 2017, according to Pro Football Reference:

    Buffalo Bills 2017 Team Stats and Rankings Table
    Lg Rank Offense22296726313127827

    Provided by Pro-Football-Reference.com: View Original Table
    Generated 2/21/2018.

    Trading up to the 49ers’ ninth or 10th pick makes sense, as it would give Buffalo an opportunity to draft one of the top quarterbacks on the board.

    Some of the high-profile quarterbacks entering the draft include USC’s Sam Darnold, UCLA’s Josh Rosen, Wyoming’s Josh Allen and Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield.

    More from Niner Noise

    At least one of those quarterbacks will fall to the No. 9 or 10 spot. If the Bills end up trading for San Francisco’s pick, they would either get a quarterback to groom or an instant replacement for Taylor.

    With the ninth or 10th pick, Buffalo would also be able to address their other positional needs. The Bills most notably lack depth at linebacker, and drafting a player like Roquan Smith or Tremaine Edmunds would certainly help.

    Next: 5 moves the 49ers need to make this 2018 offseason

    Making this trade would be beneficial for both sides, especially with Buffalo’s quarterback need. For San Francisco, the team would acquire two high-quality players who can immediately make an impact come the 2018 season.