2020 NFL Draft: Case for 49ers not trading first-round picks
Depth at a position does not disqualify the top
When the 49ers traded for the 13th pick in the 2020 draft, most people instantly began to imagine the Niners stocking up with one of the top-three wide receivers in the draft: Jerry Jeudy, Henry Ruggs III or Ceedee Lamb. As time has passed on, though, the immense strength of the wide receiver class has made it seem almost like a bad move to take one of these three receivers when good receivers will be available later.
Former NFL cornerback Eric Crocker had a phenomenal Twitter thread linked here that broke down his top-20 receivers, and he said his seventh receiver in this draft was a slightly better Deebo Samuel.
When the seventh receiver in a draft could potentially be better than the 49ers WR1, then all people begin to think about is the depth. This is a fundamental premise that exists in the NFL Draft: the idea of a bargain. Why take a Pro Bowler in the first round when you can get another one in the third? Trading down after not selecting a receiver in the first round would allow the 49ers to select a good receiver later while extracting value.
However, this premise is, at its core, misguided. A good example would be just last year with DE Nick Bosa. The draft was a strong one for edge rushers, headlined by Bosa along with players like Josh Allen and Maxx Crosby. The 49ers took Bosa at No. 2 overall, while other teams waited and took good NFL edge rushers in later rounds. Yet most would agree Bosa outplayed everyone in his draft class, offensive and defensive, as he led the charge to a Niners Super Bowl appearance.
Would the 49ers have been better off selecting another position knowing they could just take a good edge rusher later in the draft?
Based off last year’s results, the answer would be no.
Just because a top prospect or a good player is at a position of strength in the draft doesn’t mean he isn’t worth a high pick. In the draft, it cannot be argued Lamb and Jeudy are a step above the other receivers (you could throw Ruggs into that mix, but I think with him it’s a lot dicier).
If the board shakes out horribly and none of the 49ers’ top players are available at their pick, then yes, a trade down makes sense. But John Lynch shouldn’t look to trade down because he thinks he can get a slightly worse player way later.
The Niners were a quarter away from being Super Bowl champions. They don’t need a ton of depth on their roster. They need highly skilled young talent which will make them unstoppable.