Image Credit: USA TODAY Sports
The first round of 2020 NFL Draft will start Thursday night at 8 p.m., EST (that’s 6 p.m. for anyone else living in Wyoming). At the conclusion of the 2019 season, after losing the Super Bowl to the Kansas City Chiefs, the fans of the San Francisco 49ers looked at the off season and all collectively sighed. The biggest drama was whether the team would re-sign Arik Armstead (they did) and Emmanuel Sanders (they didn’t). For the first time in a long time, the 49ers didn’t have a pick in the first half of the first round, so this year’s draft looked to be a bit of a bore, especially with them not possessing a second-, third-, or fourth-round draft pick, all of which were traded away for veterans who helped them reach that Super Bowl.
Then it happened: DeForest Buckner was traded to the Indianapolis Colts for the 13th pick in the first round. All of a sudden, the 49ers’ fan base could quit arguing about Tom Brady and start arguing over defensive tackles, offensive tackles, and wide receivers who might get picked at that spot. Arguing like we’re Monty Hall on a game show, sure that the riches behind door number 1 (wide receiver) are much greater than doors number 2 (defensive tackle) or 3 (offensive tackle). So that leaves us asking, what is the best possible scenario for the 49ers Thursday night?
These are a bunch of “what-if” conversations, and predicting what position and player the 49ers value the most is impossible. John Lynch did recently tell the world that there are six foundational players they would look at drafting at number 13, and if none of those six players are available there, then a trade down is most likely. We don’t know who those six players are, if they include any quarterbacks or if they include players like Chase Young who have no shot to drop to pick 13. With all that ambiguity happening, here is what the best outlook for Thursday night would be.
With the thirteenth pick in the 2020 NFL draft the San Francisco 49ers take…
Nobody. The best possible scenario has the 49ers on the clock at 13, with multiple guys they like available. The absolute best scenario involves some smoke and mirrors as well as all three top QBs going in the beginning six picks of the draft, but not to the Miami Dolphins. Is it possible that the Dolphins are actually thinking about Jordan Love as their future QB? If Miami decided to go offensive tackle at No. 6, while the Cincinnati Bengals take Joe Burrows, the Chargers take Tua Tagovailoa, and the Jaguars take Justin Herbert, the 49ers could find themselves in control of a bidding war between the Dolphins, the New Orleans Saints, and the New England Patriots.
In this fantasy world prediction, the 49ers are able to get the Dolphins’ next first (pick 18) and their second of two-second round picks (56) in a slight overpay. This would allow the Niners to take a difference-making receiver, offensive lineman, defensive tackle, or cornerback at numbers 18 and 56, while they still have pick 31 to play with later.
A more likely trade down scenario is that the Denver Broncos the 15th and 95th (the last of their three third-round picks) to move up two spots to take the WR of their desire. This would still allow the 49ers to draft a difference-maker at number 15, possibly still one of their top targets, while grabbing a quality day two pick, just for the Broncos to move up two spaces. In this scenario, a bidding war would help most, and maybe they could still get those two Miami Dolphin picks even if the Dolphins pick Tagovailoa or Herbert with their sixth-round pick. If a top offensive lineman or top wide receiver drop to that pick, Miami might decide that they have the ammunition to move up the three spots for one of those coveted players. Offensive tackle is the most intriguing position to see who drops, as the teams have them listed in different orders.
If Miami’s top OT drops to number 13, they might think about trying to leapfrog Tampa Bay for him, allowing the 49ers to grab a first- and second-rounder for them.
The best possible outcome for the 49ers at number 13 is to get picks 18 and 56 for it, a slight overpay, but a possibility. At pick 18, they could grab multiple different receivers or cornerbacks, or possibly even offensive tackle Josh Jones, depending on where they have him graded. A dream would for one of the top three WR to drop that far, possibly Jerry Jeudy, given the recent injury reports about his knee, or cornerback C.J. Henderson, who seems to be everywhere on teams’ draft boards. Anyway you chalk it up, picks 18 and 56 in exchange for the 13th would be a win.
With the 31st pick in the 2020 NFL Draft the San Francisco 49ers take…
Nobody. Again, the best possible outcome here is a trade back, even if the team was able to get the extra second rounder out of the Dolphins for pick 13, is for several players they like at number 31 still on their list staring at them. If the 49ers get a WR they really like at 18, and a run on receivers happened in the early 20s, like it looks like they could, then several cornerbacks, defensive tackles, and interior offensive linemen who the 49ers might target could be available at the top of the second round. I don’t think the 49ers should trade further back than pick 38 though, and they absolutely should get a second and third out of the 31st, something that might not be possible. If they are able to pick up that pick 58, and they have a real difference maker at pick 31, then make the pick.
Someone like OG/C Cesar Ruiz or CB Trevon Diggs would be a good pick at 31, but we are talking best possible scenario here. For this to happen a QB who someone likes a lot is left over and a team is ready to over pay for him. In this world, the Bengals, Dolphins, and Chargers took Burrows, Tagovailoa, and Herbert, and then the Dolphins traded up for their dream OT or WR. The Patriots and Saints decide they don’t need a first round QB, and Jordon Love is sitting pretty at 31.
“There’s a phone call for you Mr. Lynch.”
“Why yes Mr. Ballard, I do remember you. How’s DeForest treating you?”
And just like that general manager John Lynch trades out of the 31st pick packaged with a 2021 third-rounder and Matt Breida for the Colts’ 34th and 75th draft picks. The Colts draft their QB of the future, and the 49ers now have picks 34, 56, and 75 to use on Friday, while walking away with a starting-caliber receiver, cornerback, or offensive tackle for their hard work on Thursday.
What it could mean for the 49ers…
We’re talking best possible outcomes here, and with a draft with the least amount of groupthink as possible, teams’ draft boards are going to be more divergent from each other’s than ever before. With the injury news of Jeudy or people valuing WR Justin Jefferson higher than either of Jeudy, CeeDee Lamb, or Henry Ruggs, it could be conceivable that one of those players drops to 18 combined with a run of OTs. Let’s say the 49ers lands one of those three receivers at number 18, getting their WR1 or WR2 across from Deebo Samuel.
Then, they can go into Friday with two second- and a third-round draft pick, where they could land IOL Cesar Ruiz at No. 34, CB Damon Arnette at No. 56, and then possibly DT Raekwon Davis at No. 75. That would be the dream scenario, and allow the 49ers to pick the best player available in the later rounds, possibly trading away Marquise Goodwin packaged with a fifth-rounder in exchange for a fourth rounder.
It’s all speculation, but that would be the best outcome for the 49ers first night of the draft.
You can follow Travis on Twitter here!
Stay tuned to 49ersHub for more great 49ers coverage and analysis!