The 49ers, Dolphins and Eagles brought their own kind of madness on March 26 — well ahead of April 29 — by shaking up the top 12 overall picks in the 2021 NFL Draft.
San Francisco and Miami exchanged first-rounders in a blockbuster. Not long after, Miami did the same again with Philadelphia involved. The Dolphins ended up sliding only three spots from No. 3 to No. 6, while the 49ers are now picking No. 3 and the Eagles have taken their old spot at No. 12.
Before handing out the grades for this trade involving all picks and no players, here’s what all three teams got and gave up:
NFL Draft trade grades
The Dolphins didn’t need to use their second, own first-rounder at No. 18 overall to make these moves. They used the pick acquired from the Texans in the Laremy Tunsil deal to maintain a high early first-rounder at No. 6 while also netting an extra first-round pick in 2023, with the 2022 draft being a wash.
Miami can still get its wide receiver of choice three spots later and remains in a good position for another trade back, if some team is trying to jump Detroit, Carolina and Denver to ensure getting its first-round QB of choice from five options. This was a good draft to have a No. 3 pick with no QB need, and the Dolphins took advantage. Tua Tagovailoa will still get good help now and more in the future.
The Eagles do get an extra first-rounder out of the deal for a slightly bigger slide of six spots. But now at No. 12 they will hope they can at least get Florida tight end Kyle Pitts with one of the top three wide receivers — LSU’s Ja’Marr Chase, Alabama’s DeVonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle — no longer in their wheelhouse.
They also took themselves out of a small chance for Oregon tackle Penei Sewell and may miss out on Northwestern tackle Rashawn Slater, too. Getting more help in the future is nice, but settling for the best defensive player available in an offense top-heavy draft won’t help Jalen Hurts.
If what the 49ers say is true about not using No. 3 to replace Jimmy Garoppolo at quarterback, either this year or next season, then this would be an expensive, wasted move. They are looking good at wide receiver with Brandon Aiyuk and Deebo Samuel. They have an elite receiving tight end in George Kittle. They just paid Trent Williams a lot of money to remain at left tackle, with a first-rounder, Mike McGlinchey, manning the right side.
Either of the top cornerbacks in the class, Virginia Tech’s Caleb Farley or Alabama’s Patrick Surtain II, would fill a big need, but that’s now too early of a spot to take either one. So everything depends on getting the QB they want who isn’t Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence. If it’s BYUs Zach Wilson, the Jets could put them out of luck. If it’s North Dakota State’s Trey Lance or Ohio State Justin Fields, the 49ers would be in business. But the next level is, there’s a lot pressure on the Niners, given the cost, that they hit a home run with the QB pick. So far, it’s been easy to trust the plans of Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch with a little patience.
Should Lance or Fields go boom, they would be geniuses again. Should either go bust, then the Niners are hampering their chances to take back the NFC West for multiple years. That’s why, for now, it’s an average grade for San Francisco.
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