Long-time NFL writer Peter King, in his MMQB mock draft on Tuesday, had the 49ers trading down in the first round with the Chiefs so that Kansas City could take Louisville receiver DeVante Parker at No. 15. Three picks later, he has the 49ers taking the player most draft watchers see the 49ers selecting, Oregon defensive end Arik Armstead.
I personally don’t think the 49ers would/should pass on Parker if he is there at No. 15 and I also don’t believe the team’s cupboard, when it comes to defensive linemen, is as bare as others suppose.
Still, the idea of a trade is intriguing. If the 49ers make a pick at No. 15, general manager Trent Baalke and Jim Tomsula will stand in front of the microphone, gush about the player they selected and insist he was the one they wanted all along. But No. 15 very well could be a no man's land -- too late for the top wide receivers like Parker and too early for the best remaining cornerbacks, pass rushers and defensive linemen.
What about a trade up? Washington at pick No. 5 and the Jets at pick 6 would love to cash in their Top 10 picks for more selections later. If I know Washington general manager Scot McCloughan -- and I think I do -- he's looking to bulk up his roster with offensive linemen. The Jets reportedly want a running back, perhaps Georgia’s Todd Gurley. Being at No. 15 would be better for both those squads.
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Meanwhile, the player the 49ers would eye at No. 5 or No. 6 might be a receiver. There's a chance Alabama's Amari Cooper would be there. There's an even better chance West Virginia's Kevin White is still on the board.
Would Baalke pull the trigger? He traded ahead in the first round in 2010 for tackle Anthony Davis and in 2013 for safety Eric Reid. And he explored a similar scenario last year for receiver Odell Beckham Jr. but felt the cost was too steep. The price this year? Moving to, say, No. 6, might cost the equivalent of this year's Nos. 1, 2 and 3 picks.
What about those falling pass rushers? Nebraska's Randy Gregory and Missouri's Shane Ray, considered at one point Top 10 talents, likely will reach the 49ers at No. 15 due to off-field issues. Ray, for instance, was cited for marijuana possession on Monday. Should San Francisco catch them?
My sense is that even if the off-field issues didn't exist, neither player fits the mold for what Baalke likes on the defensive edge. Gregory, for instance, is right around 235 pounds and has had trouble packing on weight. Ray is bigger, but at 245 pounds, he is still 20 pounds lighter than what Baalke prefers.
Some Baalke-esque pass rushers could be around later in the draft. That list includes Mississippi State's Preston Smith, Arkansas' Trey Flowers and Louisville's Lorenzo Mauldin.
Last year, Baalke chose running back Carlos Hyde in the second round and guard Brandon Thomas in the third. Why? Because he knew a running back, Frank Gore, and a guard, Mike Iupati, were entering the final year of their contracts and might be hard to re-sign.
With that in mind, the notable players entering the final years of their contracts in 2015:
▪ Wide receiver Anquan Boldin
▪ Outside linebacker Aldon Smith
▪ Tight end Vernon Davis
▪ Guard Alex Boone
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Read Matt Barrows’ blogs and archives at sacbee.com/sf49ers.