The NFL Draft is no doubt a general manager’s best friend. It gives the team the opportunity to add young talent by either filling a need or possibly finding their next All-Pro playmaker at a discounted price due to the new CBA.
In a perfect world, every NFL team would love to build their roster through the draft instead of banking on over-priced free-agents but this isn’t a perfect world. And with all 32 NFL teams fighting for draft position on players, the question remains what will GM Trent Baalke do with the 15th overall selection in this year’s draft?
And before you say offensive line, let me remind you that no offensive lineman should be drafted in the first 15 picks outside of Iowa’s T/G Brandon Scherff.
The 49ers are already set at tackle with Pro Bowl LT Joe Staley and RT Anthony Davis so adding a guard with their first pick would need to be a plug-and-play player. Not to mention, the 49ers already have last year’s third-round pick G Brandon Thomas in waiting in case G Mike Iupati bolts, the 49ers are pretty much set along the offensive line.
In fact it was injuries that hampered the line for most of the season as starters C Daniel Kilgore missed nine games due to a broken leg while Davis missed an additional 11 games with a torn labrum, sprained MCL and concussion. That’s 19 games! And while the line could have done a better job overall what would you expect from RT Jonathan Martin other than the performance he displayed?
[Related: 49ers may target deep-threat WR with first-round pick]
Now, if the 49ers drafted in the late teens to mid 20s I would say taking an offensive lineman or cornerback would be of value but they aren’t slated there, leaving me to believe that they will target a wide-receiver, defensive lineman or outside linebacker.
Aside from DEs Tank Carradine, Quinton Dial, and Tony Jerod-Eddie it looks like the #49ers need to add more depth if Justin Smith retires.
— Ryan Sakamoto (@SakamotoRyan) February 3, 2015
And should the 49ers go defense, two players I think the 49ers may consider are Florida State’s DT Eddie Goldman and Oregon’s DE Arik Armstead. Goldman, is a run-stuffing machine as not much gets passed him. He has a powerful thick build with the quickness to match making him an ideal 3-4 defensive lineman at either the zero technique or four-technique. And while he doesn’t exactly explode off the snap, he does generate a consistent push, making it difficult for quarterbacks to step up in the pocket.
Aside from Goldman’s size as he stands 6-3, 315, it’s his high motor that caught me eye as Goldman is routinely seen chasing plays from the backend. A true two-gap player as Goldman has the ability to stack-and-shed while locating the ball-carrier makes Goldman a nice find with the 15th overall selection. If Goldman can put up respectable numbers in his 10-yard split, bench press, and three-cone drill, that should solidify Goldman as a top 15 pick.
Armstead on the other hand is climbing up draft boards due to his potential. At 6-8, 285 pounds, Armstead has the ceiling to be a solid pass-rusher in a 3-4 scheme. His length and size allows him to set the edge while his strong work ethic in the weight room has helped him get stronger at the point of attack.
At 6-8 it’s no wonder Armstead was once a two-sport athlete as he played power forward for the Oregon Ducks his freshman year. And with Baalke loving football players with basketball backgrounds, I’m sure he would love nothing more than to tab a player of Armstead’s caliber.
A raw talent but one in which new head coach Jim Tomsula can coach up, makes me believe that Armstead will be high on their list come May. He will certainly be a workout warrior at the NFL scouting combine so seeing Armstead make it out of the top 10 is unlikely meaning the 49ers may have to trade-up to attain his services.
Whatever the case may be you can be sure Armstead will be highly sought after when it’s all said and done. Armstead’s best fit at the next level is at the five-technique although he has the size and potential to play the four or possibly even the three-technique on obvious passing downs.
With the NFL combine coming up it will be interesting to see which players stand out as these two may be what the 49ers are looking for long-term.