Today we get to find out how fast CB Prince Amukamara is and how stiff CB Patrick Peterson is. One of these two, or both, will be available when the 49ers are on the clock with the 7th pick of the 2011 Draft. These two are the cream of the crop of cornerbacks in this draft, and everyone knows upgrading the team’s CB position is close to a MUST.
Amukamara’s speed has been questioned, so a super fast time in the 40 yard dash today will be necessary to remove this doubt and get himself back in the mix as a top ten talent. Peterson is a big guy for a corner, and some have questioned his quickness, suggesting his best position may ultimately be free safety. The Niners do not need a free safety. They need a cornerback.
The 49ers have two, and perhaps three, other glaring needs besides CB. So the choice at #7 could be the first real clue about how Vic Fangio views our current defense. We could take a fat guy here and wave good-bye to Abrayo Franklin. Or we could take an OLB pass rusher here. Or Jim Harbaugh could step in and take a QB or even a WR. Those seem to be the consensus options at pick number seven. For now.
The other factor to be considered regarding a draft choice in the top ten is SEX. Picks in the elevated dud room can be sexy or unsexy. Picking the big ol’ fella to replace Franklin would not be a sexy pick for anybody living north, south, east, or west of Reno. Picking a QB would provoke a storm of blogosphere disapproval. Definitely, the CB and the OLB are the sexiest and most warm and cuddly choices available.
Six franchises will draft ahead of the 49ers, but there are more than six elite players. The pressure is on the Carolina Panthers to pick the best of the elite, but the Niners should have a choice not only between elite players, but also for the position of most need. If I were a Raider fan, this choice would be giving me severe anxiety attacks. But it will be hard for Trent Baalke to botch this one, and he is not likely to, either.
Today is also the day we find out if there is going to be a lockout come Friday morning. The NFL and the NFLPA are regrouping for a meeting that will either show movement toward a new CBA or each side will take their marbles and go home in a huff. Most opinionaters believe the marbles will be scooped up and the stalemate war will commence. It is believed the owners are willing to go to the mattresses all the way into September, if necessary, to force a cave-in by the players. We’re going to get screwed, folks, and it will be 1987 all over again.
This will make the 2011 Draft an even bigger topic than usual, since it would be the only football news for the next two months, and perhaps the last football event for quite some time. Perhaps this sounds like a pessimistic attitude, but we are dealing with suits haggling over money here, and these guys enjoy their game as much as we detest it. The owners forced this issue by opting out of the old CBA two years early and you can bet they are not going to back down now from having things their way. It will be up to the players, in the long run, to fold. Ultimately, they have no leverage and not enough money to stay in the game. Unless they get help from the courts or Congress. Yuck.
A fateful day awaits.