The NFL Combine last weekend officially kicked off NFL Draft season. Let’s get to another edition of our weekly mailbag now that we have a better look at the prospects the 49ers will be targeting:
Marcus Covarrubias asks: From the eye test and a production standpoint, I feel Josh Allen is a better edge than Nick Bosa, so what is the reason that Nick Bosa is almost universally considered the best player in this draft?
There are a few notable differences between the two and the way they’ve been evaluated. First, Bosa has been on the radar as a top prospect dating to his high school days, when brother Joey was starring at Ohio State before becoming the No. 3 pick of the Chargers in 2016. The brothers are eerily similar when it comes to strength, build and playing style.
And nothing that happened early in Nick Bosa’s college career gave anyone reason to doubt his prospects in the NFL aside from durability questions (he had a knee injury in high school and a core injury this past season for the Buckeyes).
Bosa is considered stronger and more polished than Allen, particularly with the way he uses his hands as a pass rusher. Allen might be a better athlete, but he’s considered more raw fundamentally. He’ll have to improve the nuances of his technique to succeed against NFL tackles.
Additionally, Allen was a two-star prospect coming out of high school who wasn’t highly recruited like Bosa, who was one of the top recruits in the country. Allen is a late riser. Many think he would have been a Day 2 pick in the draft had he come out as a junior in 2018 following back-to-back campaigns with seven sacks.
Prospect evaluation is generally about playing the odds, and NFL types believe Bosa has a higher probability of becoming a star than Allen, who has only been highly regarded as an NFL prospect for less than a year.
Rod Simmons asks: If the 49ers draft Quinnen Williams, do you see them trading Solomon Thomas or Arik Armstead?
That wouldn’t be shocking. There simply wouldn’t be enough room for four interior pass rushers to get the reps they need to be successful. And Thomas is one of the few players the 49ers might consider trading who has any real value (it’s hard to envision another team wanting to give up anything for Armstead and his guaranteed $9 million contract for 2019). Thomas has two years left on his rookie contract plus a fifth-year option for 2021.
But as good as Williams might be, it’s hard to see the 49ers taking him. They’re log-jammed with interior pass rushers, and Williams’ best position is occupied by the team’s best player, DeForest Buckner.
I have to think the 49ers would rather trade back than draft Williams in order to focus on pass rushers such as Montez Sweat, Brian Burns or Clelin Ferrell later in Round 1.
Scotty O asks: How much is that second pick worth? Especially (hypothetically) if the cardinals pull the trigger on Kyler Murray.
It depends on how far down the board the 49ers go. They received two third-round picks and a fourth-round pick from the Bears to move back one spot to No. 3 in 2017 before taking Thomas.
The Browns received five picks from the Eagles in 2016 to move up from No. 8 to No. 2 to take Carson Wentz: two first-rounders (one each in 2016 and 2017), 2016 third- and fourth-round picks, and a 2018 second-round choice.
Washington (with Kyle Shanahan as offensive coordinator) sent a package including three first-round picks to the Rams to move up from No. 6 to No. 2 to take Robert Griffin III. The Texans and Chiefs in 2017 included multiple first-round picks to move up for Deshaun Watson and Patrick Mahomes.
Freddy asks: Does the whole coaching and gm staff go to the combine or do they pick and choose who goes? Been hearing a lot about wes welker and miles austin in on interviews.
During Trent Baalke’s tenure, scouts would often be instructed to stay at team headquarters to continue crunching film, leaving top members of the personnel department and coaching staff to meet with prospects at the combine.
It’s my understanding that’s changed under the new regime. Scouts, coaches and personnel executives were in Indy for the combine, which makes divvying up responsibilities easier with 60 meetings to go through in less than a week.
Gar Chapman asks: If the Niners were to swap the 2 for the 6 with the Giants and get Odell Beckham Jr., would there be any guaranteed money left on his contact? What would his cap number be?
The Giants would take on $16 million in dead money if they dealt Beckham after signing him to a five-year, $90 million extension last summer, which means they would have to be dying to get rid of him.
But here would be his salary-cap numbers over the five years left on his contract, according to Overthecap.com:
2019 (age 27): $21 million
2020 (age 28): $18.25 million
2021 (age 29): $19.75 million
2022 (age 30): $19 million
2023 (age 31): $15 million
The salary cap has increased by more than $10 million each of the past six seasons. Assuming that growth stays constant, Beckham’s contract would be a better value as time goes on if he maintains his high level of productivity (another reason the Giants would be crazy to trade him).
Nick asks: Is there enough talent in the draft at needed positions like edge, receiver and defensive back to trade back and gather more picks or should 49ers just grab the best player available at 2?
It’s impossible to say with any certainty. It also depends on what happens when free agency starts next week.
The team could use its $67 million in cap space to add a safety (Earl Thomas?), cornerback (Eric Rowe?), linebacker (C.J. Mosley?), pass rusher (Justin Houston?) to fill needs, which could lead to feeling more comfortable staying at pick No. 2. The 49ers only have six picks this year.
My opinion: Bosa is widely considered the best non-quarterback in the class, and the 49ers shouldn’t expect to pick this high again for the foreseeable future. In other words, the chance to add an eventual defensive player of the year candidate on a rookie contract should be too good to pass up.
On the other hand, if the 49ers are in love with players further down the board such as Sweat, Burns or LSU linebacker Devin White, it would make sense to trade down for additional picks, particularly if Bosa is off the board. There might not be as wide a gap between Allen and Burns/Sweat than we initially thought.
I wouldn’t over-think it. Take Bosa if he’s there. Trade back if he’s gone.