After months of speculation and multiple mock drafts, the 2019 NFL Draft is a few days away and San Francisco 49ers’ General Manager John Lynch – who spoke with the Bay Area media today – and his #2 pick are ready, whether it means trading it or using.
All About That #2 Pick
Much rides on what the Arizona Cardinals do with the first pick. If they do indeed pick Oklahoma QB Kyler Murray, that’s one thing. If they don’t, Lynch will get a lot of phone calls and fast.
“I think by nature of having the number two pick and the type of player,” Lynch said. “…I would imagine there’ll be some interest. We’ll certainly listen, but we’ll also be prepared to pull the trigger because I think we’ve got some high grades on a number of players that we really feel could help our franchise get where we want to get in the immediate future and further on into the future.”
Should he be there at number two, Ohio State defensive end Nick Bosa is the 49ers’ presumptive pick. However, he has come under fire for controversial tweets in support of Donald Trump and against Colin Kaepernick, among other subjects. It’s all taken into account.
“I would tell you that we look at everything,” Lynch said. “I think we try to be as thorough in the process as we can. That is something we look at, but we also look at what kind of teammate is he. What do his teammates think about him? When I say him, I’m speaking of any prospect. In particular, when you’re talking about guys who are going to go that high, you’ve vetted these guys in every way. You try to look at things like that. What kind of member of your organization would this guy be, in every respect? You look at it all and we’ve done that with all the prospects that we might be considering at that spot.”
As for his own relationship with social media, Lynch said, “I’m trying to watch more film than I am scrolling on Twitter these days.” Yeah. That’s fair.
Presumably, that pick will be used to bolster the defensive line, a position group on which the #1 pick has been used the last several years. Whether it be Bosa, Quinnen Williams or Kentucky’s Josh Allen, the line could go from good to scary very quickly.
Williams may very well be the most talented player in the draft and the 49ers know they could have someone very “special” in the defensive star out of Alabama.
“The season he had may have been as god of a college football season that I’ve ever seen,” said Lynch. “He was just dominant. To think that that was his first year playing nose tackle. It’s a great story…He’s a spectacular player. When you look at how your roster is currently comprised, when you have an opportunity to take a talent like that, you certainly look at every avenue to improve your team…He can play anything, that guy. He’s special.”
This draft class is deep at wide receiver, which is good for the 49ers who could use depth at wide receiver.
“There’s a lot of guys who we like and there’s different reasons we bring guys in,” Lynch said. “Just like any position, that may be a spot where we try to improve our team. Fortunately, in this year’s draft, it seems to be a good stable of guys who can help.”
Practice Makes Perfect
With this being his third NFL Draft, Lynch has learned some valuable lessons along the way, none more valuable than what happened with Reuben Foster.
“I think with Reuben, I think we somewhat accounted for it by where we drafted him,” Lynch said. “I think we had him at a certain value. We didn’t draft him there. That doesn’t excuse us. It’s a shame. We’re very happy to have Kwon Alexander, but that came at a heavy price. We would’ve much preferred to have Reuben still playing here. So, of course you learn a lesson. If you don’t, like I said, shame on you. You work hard to try to identify what is the lesson that you learned. We know in-house what those lessons are.”
With those lessons have come other changes in the process of vetting players.
“There’s certain tweaks we’ve made,” Lynch said. “Our 30 visits this year, we brought people more in a group setting. We want to see how they interact with other people. So, those are subtle things that we do. But, there’s so much that just goes into the research of these players. You learn something every year. I think the most important thing, you impart upon your scouts, upon your staff is, ‘We have to be as thorough as humanly possible.’ Anything we can learn about these guys is valuable information.”
In terms of how things have changed from his first draft to today, Lynch said a lot of it is about relationships.
“I think it’s always fluid and you’re always learning. There’s things about how much do I want to be out on the road, how much do I want to get out there, that you have a better feel for it. You have a better feel that things are good here so maybe I have a little more opportunity to get away from here because I’m very comfortable with our culture and who’s in charge when I’m leaving and things of that nature. I think relationships develop. I had a lot of relationships in the NFL. I think the relationships with the college coaches, those continue to flourish as you’re talking to these people and they learn to trust you and you learn to trust them. I think all of those things grow and hopefully will continue to grow the longer I do this.”
The Niners draft room with be without scout, and former Lynch teammate, Reggie Cobb, who passed away unexpectedly on Saturday.
“We lost a member of our family this weekend in Reggie Cobb. It’s tough. What I’m finding is, not only did Reggie have an impact on this building, the outpouring from the league has just been unbelievable. The scouts, the coaches, GMs. He touched the NFL community and I think far beyond that…[W]e’ll always remember the infectious smile, the laugh and just the person that Reggie was…We’re going to try to honor him. I know we’re keeping his seat empty this whole weekend. I just talked with his son. I think he’s going to be a part of a really cool way to try to honor Reggie Cobb.”