By virtue of the second blockbuster trade of the NFL draft season, there is a lot of moving parts within the top 10 heading into the annual event in Chicago next week.
Now that we know the Los Angeles Rams and Philadelphia Eagles are likely going to go quarterback with the first two picks, the dominoes are going to start falling relatively quickly here.
By yielding five valuable picks to the Cleveland Browns in order to move up to the second spot, the Eagles have shown their hand big time. They are going to select the quarterback that remains on the board after the Rams pick No. 1 overall.
This comes after the Rams themselves yielded a huge bounty to the Tennessee Titans for the first pick last week.
It also makes Memphis product Paxton Lynch a valuable commodity for quarterback-needy teams around the NFL. He’s the best remaining quarterback outside the top two, and will now likely hear his name called in the top 10.
When looking at the dynamic of the early part of the first round, it becomes abundantly clear that the San Francisco 49ers at No. 7 overall are next in line to target a quarterback.
Picking three-through-six, San Diego, Dallas, Jacksonville and Baltimore are not going to exhaust an early pick on this position with franchise guys already under center.
After San Francisco, the Cleveland Browns with the eighth pick make a ton of a sense. They traded down from No. 2 overall with the Eagles, but are still looking for that franchise guy to call their own.
Any team potentially looking to add Lynch would likely have to bypass the Browns in the pecking order.
That’s where San Francisco comes into play.
Sure Chip Kelly would like to add his quarterback in the draft. We are also pretty sure that Trent Baalke will do what he can to cater to the new head coach.
He’s done so with other head coaches in the past, most significantly trading up for Jim Harbaugh’s guy, Colin Kaepernick, in the second round of the 2011 NFL draft.
We also know that San Francisco has two quarterbacks that could actually have success under Kelly already on the roster.
As the Colin Kaepernick trade rumors continue to be bandied about leading up to the draft, his options are becoming severely limited.
The Eagles are no longer an option (never were) now that they are picking a quarterback at two.
The Browns might be a potential destination, but that was somewhat quieted following the signing of Robert Griffin III. Meanwhile, Denver added Mark Sanchez and is showing interest in Brian Hoyer.
This leaves the New York Jets as the likeliest destination for Kaepernick. Though, common logic seems to suggest the team will be able to re-sign Ryan Fitzpatrick at some point soon.
If Kaepernick is out of viable options, his best decision would be to drop the trade request and work in a system that seems to fit his abilities to a T.
Even if the enigmatic quarterback is traded, San Francisco stills boasts a quarterback in Blaine Gabbert who performed at a decent level under a horrible coaching staff last season.
While less than ideal, there’s no reason to believe he couldn’t hold down the fort under Kelly for a year or two, especially on a team that’s rebuilding.
All this is an indication that San Francisco doesn’t need to go quarterback in the first round. It can wait until the mid rounds to select a project to work under Kelly for the foreseeable future.
These two blockbuster trades didn’t only shake up the early part of this month’s draft, they put other teams around the NFL on notice. If you want to get your quarterback, you aren’t going to have much success just sitting idly by hoping he falls on to your lap.
Now that Lynch is the best remaining option here, teams will assuredly be calling to move up and get him.
As mentioned above, the team most will be calling is going to be San Francisco leading up to the draft.
General manager Trent Baalke has shown a willingness to collect picks in order to give him the ability to move up and down the draft as he sees fit. It has worked at times. Other times, it has backfired big time for San Francisco.
With holes on both sides of the ball and 12 picks already accumulated, San Francisco finds itself in prime position to acquire future assets for what is now a valuable seventh pick.
One team that clearly comes to mind here is the Jets. Even if the team is able to re-sign Fitzpatrick, they have a need at quarterback.
There’s a lot of avenues that could be pursued here. First off, San Francisco could simply swap the seventh pick for No. 20 overall and stud defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson.
Another option here would be a package of picks heading to San Francisco, much like we have seen with the other two blockbuster trades over the past week. That is to say the Jets sending multiple picks San Francisco’s way to move into the top 10 and select Lynch.
Either way we spin, it, the 49ers find themselves in prime position to move down in a draft that suddenly values their first-round pick more than any other.
Whether Baalke and Co. pull the trigger is a completely different story.