2013 NFL Draft Prospects the San Francisco 49ers Should Trade Up to Get
The San Francisco 49ers have enough picks, 14 to be exact, to cause some serious problems in the 2013 NFL Draft. General manager Trent Baalke and his crew have a great feel for what other teams are planning to do with their selections and can often sense the perfect time to strike a draft-day trade, snagging a prospect they're fond of right before a competitor gets their hands on him.
With a roster as loaded as San Francisco’s is, it’s obviously unrealistic to expect the Niners to select 14 players in this year’s draft. I’d be shocked if they even come away with 10, to be honest. There are too many rebuilding franchises desperate to add picks for SF not to be able to shift around wherever they please and snatch up a potential starter or two for the future.
Why else would they have stockpiled so many selections?
Of course, Baalke and Co. could opt to execute a strategy similar as last year and exchange a few of this year’s picks for some more in 2014. But another possibility is that they’ll be used as ammo to slide up in the first round and get their hands on a stud who can step in from day one and make a positive impact.
Despite a glorious run that ended just shy of a Super Bowl victory, the 49ers suffered from a lack of defensive depth late in the season. Injuries and tired legs played their part in keeping this franchise from hoisting a sixth Lombardi Trophy, and that simply cannot happen again.
If San Francisco wants to upgrade its roster for the upcoming season, particularly the defensive side of the ball, there are plenty of promising prospects expected to come off the board in the first round that the Niners should have their eyes on.
The following slides present to you five prospects the 49ers should consider trading up in the first round to snag if they like them enough and feel another team is about to make them theirs.
Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State
Rhodes is physical, big-bodied (6’2”, 210 pounds) and unfortunately projected by many as a mid-to-late first-round pick. Meaning, he could fall to the 49ers at No. 31, but there would be nothing wrong with trading up 10-15 spots to take him off the board.
Hard-hitting, athletic corners that run a 40-yard dash in the 4.4-range don’t come around often, and we all know San Fran would benefit from having Rhodes in its secondary. The 2012 first-team All-ACC selection is entering the draft as a junior, and defensive backs coach Ed Donatell has an impressive track record of turning these types of defensive backs into NFL superstars.
Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington
If Rhodes isn’t available by the middle of the first round, that likely means Trufant will be. Though he’s not nearly as big as Rhodes (6’0”, 190 pounds), the Washington product has more speed and is arguably the best cover corner available in this year’s draft.
Trufant was a four-year starter at the collegiate level, giving him plenty of experience to step in and make an immediate impact for whichever team elects to take him off the board. If Baalke and Co. feel the cornerback position needs another helping hand and they like him enough, it just might be the Niners.
Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State
Werner’s non-stop motor and ability to shed blocks effortlessly reminds me of the one and only Justin Smith, as someone in every draft class eventually does. He’s also a fine pass rusher, as his 13 sacks for the Seminoles in 2012 will attest.
The Niners haven’t selected the 33-year-old Smith’s replacement yet, but this should be the year they do. At 6’3”, 266 pounds, Werner would have to bulk up to handle the duties of a 3-4 DE, but San Fran is so versatile in its defensive schemes that D-coordinator Vic Fangio would have no issues finding a role that best suits his skill set.
Jonathan Jenkins, DT, Georgia
The Niners don’t use a nose tackle nearly as much as they have in the past and also signed run-stopping DT Glenn Dorsey in free agency, but Jenkins is a massive D-lineman (6’4”, 346 pounds) perfectly capable of executing the responsibilities he would be handed.
San Francisco’s D-line weakened late in the season and wasn’t as effective in the interior as usual. Sliding up a few spots (if the front office feels he’s about to come off the board) to snag Jenkins would give the Niners flexibility up front and make sure there is plenty of depth in the event of an an injury or if the Dorsey signing doesn’t pan out.
Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame
San Francisco could easily opt to wait and see if Stanford product Zach Ertz falls to either No. 31 or to the second round at pick No. 34, but Eifert would join the team as a more capable blocking tight end and he’s equally impressive, if not more, as a pass-catcher.
Eifert is a guaranteed matchup problem for defenses that could immediately step in as the No. 2 TE behind Vernon Davis now that Delanie Walker has departed via free agency. He’s 6’5”, 250 pounds and doesn’t really have a weakness to his game.
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