With one move, the 2020 NFL Draft went from a small affair for the 49ers to one that could greatly impact their run back to the Super Bowl.
The 49ers entered the start of the new league year with only the No. 31 pick in the first round and zero second- and third-round picks. Most assumed the 49ers would trade out of the first round to recoup draft assets. But the 49ers made a surprising move Monday, trading star defensive tackle DeForest Buckner to the Indianapolis Colts for the No. 13 overall pick.
With that move, the 49ers now are in position to select one of the top three wide receivers in a loaded class. The only question is: Should they be gunning for Oklahoma's CeeDee Lamb, or one of Alabama's stars in Jerry Jeudy or Henry Ruggs?
That's a lot like asking someone if they'd rather have pizza or chicken wings after seven beers. The answer is yes. But let's see if we can (try) to rank these three dynamic wideouts.
1. CeeDee Lamb
My love of Lamb has been well-documented for quite some time. He's been stuck behind Jeudy on most big boards due to what is a perceived weakness as a route-runner. But that skill was cleaned up during his final year in Norman, Okla., and he now should be the first wide receiver taken off the board.
Lamb has superior hands to Jeudy and is tenacious after the catch. He has great body control, ball skills and instincts. He doesn't have the straight speed of Ruggs, but his natural gifts should allow him to be the focal point of an offense at the NFL level. If all goes according to plan, Lamb has DeAndre Hopkins-type upside.
Pairing him with Deebo Samuel and letting Kyle Shanahan find ways to get him in space to make people miss would be a sight to see.
CeeDee Lamb.— Kegan Reneau (@KeganReneau) March 11, 2020
Specimen. Athlete. Whatever adjective you want to use. pic.twitter.com/8Yy1penZA5
I mean this is ridiculous.
There's little chance Lamb falls past the Raiders at No. 12, but the 49ers can dare to dream.
2. Jerry Jeudy
Jeudy was viewed as a top-four pick entering the season, but he's been the victim of over-analysis.
Make no mistake, Jeudy is an elite receiver. While he did damage all over the field at Alabama, Jeudy likely will settle into the slot role in the NFL.
The 6-foot-1, 192-pound Jeudy has great footwork, is an elite route-runner and has the top-end speed to be a consistent vertical threat at the NFL level. He's very good at beating press coverage and has uncanny stop-start ability. The hands are great, but sometimes he loses concentration and drops easy ones.
Jeudy has all the skills to offer immediate production for whichever team calls his name in 2020. If it's the 49ers, Shanahan will be drooling. This pairing would be quick slants and big-play post catches galore.
Imagine being a foot away from Jerry Jeudy and still not being able to touch him. Dude is special pic.twitter.com/McYVQRFVOD— Mike Renner (@PFF_Mike) January 22, 2020
3. Henry Ruggs
Speed, speed, speed and more speed.
Ruggs will step into the NFL and immediately be the second-fastest player in the league (shoutout Tyreek Hill). Ruggs put on a show at the NFL Scouting Combine, running a 4.27 40-yard dash to put him in the top tier along with Lamb and Jeudy.
Alabama's scheme versatility got Ruggs the ball with room to work, allowing him to blaze past defenses. He's a good route-runner with elite burst and acceleration. He's obviously a vertical threat, but also found a lot of success on jet sweeps and tunnel screens. His ability to make contested catches also was underrated, as defenders often bounced off him without impeding his path to the ball.
Ruggs would be a dynamic weapon for Shanahan and the 49ers. There's no telling the number of ways Shanahan could scheme up to get the speedster the ball in the open field.
As said before, it's a choice with almost no wrong answer. If I had to put money on it, I'd say Jeudy is wearing the red and gold come fall. His route-running and versatility would be perfect or the 49ers' offense. He's not as good with the ball in his hands as Lamb is, and he doesn't have the straight-line speed that Ruggs does, but you can't go wrong if you turn in a card that says Jerry Jeudy.