The Cleveland Browns are shopping the No. 2 overall pick in next week’s NFL draft and are calling teams with top-10 picks, according to the NFL Network.
The contacts presumably included a conversation with the 49ers, who pick No. 7, have the most draft selections (12) and have shown strong interest in Cal quarterback Jared Goff – the player teams might be targeting at No. 2.
First-year 49ers coach Chip Kelly has watched or met with Goff three times in the run-up to the draft – at Cal’s pro day last month, at a private workout the 49ers had at Cal and when Goff visited the team Monday.
By contrast, the 49ers had only one scout at the pro day for the other top quarterback in the draft, North Dakota State’s Carson Wentz, and sent only quarterbacks coach Ryan Day for a subsequent private workout with Wentz.
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Why the discrepancy? When it comes to the draft, there could be a number of reasons.
The 49ers might figure they have no shot at drafting Wentz and shouldn’t waste resources on him. Or maybe the attention shown to Goff is due to proximity: Goff is a 44-mile drive to Berkeley, while Fargo, N.D., is 1,500 miles away. Indeed, a snowstorm before Wentz’s pro day workout might have prevented Day from seeing him initially. Kelly attended a slew of local pro days and workouts but isn’t known to have boarded a plane to see any draft prospects this year.
Or it may be that the 49ers simply like Goff. Goff, Stanford quarterback Kevin Hogan and Michigan State’s Connor Cook are the only quarterbacks likely to be drafted next week who are known to have visited 49ers headquarters. As with Goff and Wentz, the 49ers had a private workout with Cook.
The 49ers certainly need a rookie quarterback. Blaine Gabbert, who started the final eight games last season and is being eyed for the starting role again, isn’t signed beyond the 2016 season. Another possibility, Colin Kaepernick, has asked for a trade and, even if he remains on San Francisco’s roster this season, essentially is on a year-to-year contract.
It’s unlikely both Gabbert and Kaepernick will be with the 49ers next year at this time. And both could be gone.
As far as trading up five spots to grab Goff? General manager Trent Baalke moved up in the first round in 2010 and 2013 to select tackle Anthony Davis and safety Eric Reid, respectively. And he has plenty of ammunition to make that kind of move this year. The Browns, who perhaps have the league’s most talent-starved roster, reportedly are looking for quantity as compensation for the No. 2 overall pick. Baalke can supply that.
Still, the 49ers have plenty of holes on their roster, especially along their defensive and offensive lines. Would they give up the draft capital to bolster these units to get Goff, especially when they also might like another quarterback, Cook, they can take with their second pick? And would they outbid the Philadelphia Eagles, who reportedly also want to draft a quarterback, to grab Goff?
It wouldn’t be a shock if it happens. But it seems out of character for Baalke, who has drafted only two quarterbacks in six years, neither of them before the second round.
Goff to the 49ers at pick No. 2? Call it a surprise.
- When: April 28, 5 p.m. (first round), April 29, 4 p.m. (rounds 2-3) and April 30, 9 a.m., (rounds 4-7)
- Where: Chicago
- No. 1 pick: Los Angeles
- 49ers’ first pick: No. 7
- Raiders’ first pick: No. 14
- TV: ESPN, NFL Network