Image Credit: John Lynch
Welcome to Zach’s Draft Corner, where it’s always amateur hour.
Round one is in the books, and we now know who some of the new San Francisco 49ers are for the 2020 season. Let’s dive into the players the 49ers received, as well as the other big news in the first round.
The 49ers Traded Back and Still Got Javon Kinlaw
Some things are better off looked at in a vacuum. If I told you that the 49ers would treat Tampa Bay like they were Chicago and Mitchell Trubisky them out of a mid-round pick to trade back only one spot, and they would still get the best playmaking defensive tackle in the draft, many of you would take it. That’s exactly what the 49ers did, turning a seventh-round pick into a fourth-round pick for the low cost of moving back one spot so Tampa Bay could solidify their offensive line. The 49ers then drafted Kinlaw, the best penetrator in the entire class.
There is some concern about the players the 49ers left on the board. Many felt that the 49ers would only go with a non-wide receiver with their first pick if the big three were all drafted before number 13. Instead, the 49ers traded back with Jerry Jeudy and CeeDee Lamb still on the board before drafting Kinlaw over both receivers. Shanahan was happy to see Kinlaw available, and gave away that he really likes a strong defensive line.
The 49ers Traded... Up?
After trading back, like many expected, the 49ers traded up from their second first round pick, which was not expected. John Lynch gave up the shiny new fourth-round pick he acquired from Tampa Bay, as well as his own fifth-round pick, to move up from 31 to 25 so that the 49ers could draft Brandon Aiyuk, the wide receiver from Arizona State. The pick makes sense, as Aiyuk is the type of effective route runner and yards-after-catch dominator that Kyle Shanahan covets. How much does he covet Aiyuk? Aiyuk was apparently number one on Shanahan’s wishlist for receivers. If any media member is going to have Shanahan’s ear, it is Chris Simms, and Simms had some high praise for the pick. If this pick turns out half as well as Shanahan’s expectations, the 49ers hit a home run in the first round.
The Seahawks Stay Put and Draft... Who?
It’s become a running joke that the Seahawks are going to take a late first round pick and draft someone who shouldn’t have been taken until day three. Rashaad Penny in 2018, L.J. Collier in 2019, and they did not disappoint in 2020. While I expected them to reach on an offensive lineman, they instead took a run-stuffing, athletic linebacker who has no cover skills in Jordyn Brooks. The upside is there with his athleticism, but this pick left me scratching my head.
Is the Aaron Rodgers Tenure Over in Green Bay?
Jordan Love is the type of quarterback you expect teams to trade up late in the first round to grab. Super talented, but needs a bit of time, a little less pressure, and some tutelage. So it was unexpected to see him go to Green Bay, a team with a Hall of Fame quarterback who was not expected to retire any time soon and who has been abrasive at many points throughout his career. We’ll see how Rodgers accepts tutoring his replacement, and a fed-up Rodgers may be difficult to handle.
Teams Are Banking on High Ceiling Potential Over High Floor Contributors
There were a lot of picks where players were drafted in spots seemingly well above their expected position because they are super athletic, high ceiling players, and despite the fact that they have plenty of bust potential. Atlanta took A.J. Terrell at number 16, Las Vegas took Damon Arnette at No. 19, and Miami took the pair of Austin Jackson at No. 18 and Noah Igbinoghene at No. 30, with players like Jeff Gladney, Kristian Fulton, and Josh Jones on the board. These players certainly could work out, but there is a good chance these teams are in for a rude experience.
The 49ers Have Three Picks Left
With all of the trades, the 49ers actually lost two day-three picks and are left with a fifth, a sixth, and a seventh. With the additions of Kinlaw and Aiyuk, it is clear that there are some expendable roster spots. If the 49ers want a day-two pick, or more day-three picks, it will require parting with veterans like Marquise Goodwin, Jaquiski Tartt, Solomon Thomas, Ahkello Witherspoon, and/or Matt Breida. These players are all relatively easy to replace, but also means the value to other teams may not be there. Don’t be surprised to see the 49ers try to trade these players for more picks, or to package them with picks to get some more capital. This weekend is far from over.
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