San Francisco 49ers: Grading Each Pick Of The 2015 NFL Draft
As a sports writer there are many different ways I could look at the statistics, the players backgrounds, what college they went to, their playing time, and so on, but to put it simply as a long time 49ers fan, here are the top four needs I see for The 49ers and how their 10 newly drafted players either help or hinder these needs. This is how I determine each picks grade, and The 49ers overall grade.
- When Chris Borland was drafted last year as an ILB he threw everyone for a loop when he accomplished 107 tackles, one sack and two interceptions his rookie year. Certainly getting a great ILB to replace him is among The Niners top needs.
Now let’s look at some of the draft picks. As far as defensive guys go, The Niners drafted one defensive lineman, a safety, and an outside linebacker. Out of the three, the one who comes closest to filling Borland’s shoes is defensive lineman Arik Armstead from Oregon. Armstead is a great player, but not only is he not an ILB, he’s a defensive lineman, something The 49ers have a lot of. The pick of Arik Armstead gets a C. As for the other two, the safety Jaquiski Tartt of Samford, he gets a B, simply because The Niners could use more depth there than at the DL position, and OLB Eli Harold of Virginia gets a B because of need number 2.
2. Justin Smith, the pro-bowler may be retiring after 14 years in the NFL. Of course no one can replace his shoes, and he’s not leaving The 49ers empty handed. They still have great defensive players in Aldon Smith, Aaron Lynch and Ahmad Brooks.
One draft pick does fit the mold, and that is OLB Eli Harold as men tioned above. The pick of taking Eli Harold in round 3 earns a B.
3. The third need I see as a fan is more depth at Quarterback. Don’t get me wrong I think Kapernick is still our guy, and he’s certainly shown moments of greatness, but currently as back up we have Blaine Gabbert, who quite frankly is still a big question mark. Yes he has 5 years experience in the NFL, but what does he have to show for it?
Now let’s look at some draft picks. As far as offensive guys, The Niners picked up a punter, two tight ends, a running back, a wide receiver, and two offensive lineman. Out of these picks, the two that help us in the quarterback position most are offensive linemen, Ian Silberman of Boston College, and Trenton Brown of Florida. Silberman, though a good player didn’t stand out as much as Brown did, thus Silberman earns a C, and Brown, who was the biggest player at the combine earns a B+. He will most likely be the guy to fill Mike Iupati’s shoes if needed. Bradley Pinion the punter from Clemson gets a C- because Andy Lee is the best punter in the NFL, so certainly not a immediate need.
4. Rounding out the top four needs is more depth at TE. When he was on top of his game, Vernon Davis was making touchdowns off of Alex Smith and Colin Kapernick with no problem, but lately, partly due to injury, and partly due to not enough chances, Davis does not look like his old self. Part of this need is giving Kapernick plenty of offensive options to convert on the field.
As far as draft picks that fit the bill, The 49ers picked up TE’s Blake Bell of Oklahoma, and Rory Anderson of South Carolina. They also got wide receiver DeAndre Smelter of Georgia Tech and running back Mike Davis of South Carolina. Both Bell and Anderson get B+s for adding depth in the TE position, Smelter gets a B- simply because Bouldin is on fire right now, and lastly Davis gets a C, because Gore and Hyde have the RB position locked up.
Overall The 49ers earn 3 B+s, 2 Bs, 1 B- and 3 Cs and 1 C- giving them a B- average overall. While no pick stood out as fully taking care of a need, half of the picks are steps towards the right direction.