Six Foundational Players the 49ers probably would take with the 13th Pick
49ers general manager John Lynch made his draft plans clear earlier this week. He said he “hopes” to trade down, because there are merely six “foundational” players he would take with the 13th pick. “Foundational” means a player a team can build around for the next decade. “Foundational” is the key word.
Here are six foundational players the 49ers probably wouldn’t hesitate to draft with the 13th pick.
1. Ohio State Defensive End Chase Young.
The defensive line is the foundation of the 49ers’ defense. They’ve spent first-round picks on defensive linemen four of the past five years, including last year, when they took Nick Bosa.
Young is better than Bosa. The 49ers absolutely would take Young if he were to fall to pick 13 -- every team in the NFL would take him at 13. Unfortunately for the 49ers, Young won’t be available for them. The Redskins almost certainly will take him with the second pick.
2. Clemson Linebacker/Safety Isaiah Simmons.
The 49ers don’t need another linebacker. They have Fred Warner and Dre Greenlaw, two young studs. Plus they have Kwon Alexander, who’s expensive.
But Simmons isn’t just a linebacker.
He can play linebacker, safety and slot cornerback. He can play practically any position. He’s the most athletic player in the draft and will be foundation of some team’s defense for the next decade.
Imagine what 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh could do with Simmons. Saleh's specialty is blitzing linebackers and safeties. Simmons would bring out the best of Saleh, or any defensive coordinator.
But Simmons probably won’t be available for the 49ers. He’s too good.
3. Auburn Defensive Tackle Derrick Brown.
Brown is the only “foundational” defensive tackle in the draft, the one with the best chance to play like DeForest Buckner in a few years.
Brown is a big man -- 6’5”, 326 pounds. And he’s an excellent run defender. He instantly would improve the 49ers run defense, which was mediocre last season.
Brown also is an effective pass rusher who would be a major upgrade over Solomon Thomas. Brown seems like a perennial All Pro. Meaning he probably won’t fall to 13. If the Colts thought he’d drop, they probably wouldn’t have traded the 13th pick for Buckner, who’s older and more expensive. They probably would have kept the pick and taken Brown.
4. Ohio State Cornerback Jeffrey Okudah.
Wide receivers typically aren’t foundational players, but cornerbacks are. Especially lock-down cornerbacks like Okudah. The 49ers haven’t had a cornerback as good as Okudah since Deion Sanders 26 years ago.
Okudah is the total package -- he can cover, he can tackle and he can take the ball away from the offense. If he falls to pick 13 -- unlikely, but possible -- the 49ers should take him and not think twice.
5. Alabama Offensive Tackle Jedrick Wills Jr.
The 49ers don’t need a left tackle just yet, but they’ll need one soon to replace Joe Staley.
Good left tackles are rare. Usually, teams take them high in the draft. If the 49ers want an elite left-tackle prospect to replace Staley in a year or two, they probably need to take one with the 13th pick.
Wills Jr. is an elite left-tackle prospect. He has quick hands and feet, and played in the SEC, the most physical and violent conference in college football. He could learn from Staley, then replace him.
6. Georgia Offensive Tackle Andrew Thomas.
Thomas is another elite left-tackle prospect who played in the SEC. He would be a worthy heir apparent to Staley.
If Thomas drops to the 13th pick, I expect the 49ers will take him. But if he and the rest of these foundational players are gone, I expect the 49ers will trade down.