Trent Baalke and the San Francisco 49ers refuse to leave any stone unturned when it comes to the NFL Draft, and we shouldn’t expect 2013 to be any different. Baalke and Co. will arrive to the party equipped with 13 selections, and though they aren’t expected to use them all on prospects, the possibilities of what they can do during draft weekend are literally endless.
There are quite a few intriguing prospects in this year’s draft class, and you can bet the Niners’ front office has done its homework on each and every one of them. For example, the team brought in British discus star Lawrence Okoye, a 6’6″, 304-pound physical freak of nature who also has a background in rugby, for a visit on Wednesday.
Okoye, who fits best at defensive end, will likely be a late-round pick if he’s drafted at all, but the 49ers interest in him shows they understand they have the luxury of drafting “projects” who may not be able to make an immediate impact, but have the potential to be groomed into starters a few years down the road.
San Fran’s coaching staff is one of the league’s best in terms of developing talent and maximizing player strengths, so an inexperienced prospect probably has a better chance to succeed with the 49ers than in most NFL cities.
It’s well known that the Red and Gold have one of the league’s most talented rosters, and the free-agent additions this offseason have only made it stronger. There are plenty of potential “risk” picks like Okoye, defensive back Tyrann Mathieu and running back Marcus Lattimore that the Niners could afford to take a chance on because of their current situation.
Draft picks are typically coveted assets that can’t be wasted, but San Fran has done such a great job scouting in recent drafts and free agency that they may just be an exception to the rule.