Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Mel Kiper re-grades 49ers’ 2016 draft

Apr 4, 2017 at 10:47 AM--

Preparing for the NFL draft consists of a whole lot of player evaluation and then a whole lot of luck. A top-rated player may end up being a bust while a sixth-round selection may end up being one of the greatest to ever play the game. While drafting can be an inexact science, grading a draft before the rookies have even played in a game can be even more so.

ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper, just a year removed from the 2016 NFL Draft, has decided to go back and re-grade the drafts of all 32 NFL teams. "The updated grades are just a fun exercise in seeing how the draft class appears to be shaping up," writes Kiper. He looked at the first-year impact for each team's 2016 draft class and whether or not the players who did contribute would be able to do so for most NFL teams.

Once the 2016 NFL Draft was complete, the San Francisco 49ers earned a "C" grade from Kiper. The re-grade dropped slightly to a "C-."

Kiper points out that, given how bad the 2016 49ers squad was, the rookie class should have participated more during the season. One exception was DE DeForest Buckner, who played in 1,007 snaps and had the third-most snaps of any player on the team. "So far DeForest Buckner looks like a pretty decent pro," Kiper wrote. "He started 15 games and moved around a lot, and he picked up six sacks and 73 tackles."

The 49ers' other first-round draft pick, G Joshua Garnett, was criticized by Kiper. "I didn't like the Joshua Garnett pick, because if you trade up for a guard I hope it's not a reach on value," Kiper wrote. "Garnett started the final 11 games at right guard but struggled a great deal."

Kiper writes that there isn't much to the draft class after that. CB Will Redmond was never active for a game. QB Jeff Driskel didn't even make the final roster. RB Kelvin Taylor is a member of the Seattle Seahawks.

The ESPN analyst did briefly mention DT Ronald Blair and CB Rashard Robinson, mentioning the former's three sacks in 2016 and the part-time work of the latter. Kiper said that Blair showed "some flashes." Of course, as most fans know, so did Robinson and he could turn out to be a good value pick from the fourth round. The 49ers may have found a future starting cornerback with the Robinson selection, who was among the six cornerbacks that former general manager Trent Baalke selected over the past three drafts – and the team didn't select even one in 2015.

Below is the 49ers' entire 2016 draft class.

Rd/Pk Name Pos Ccollege
1/7 DeForest Buckner DE Oregon
1/28 Joshua Garnett G Stanford
3/68 Will Redmond CB Mississippi State
4/133 Rashard Robinson CB Louisiana State
5/142 Ronald Blair DT Appalachian State
5/145 John Theus OT Georgia
5/174 Fahn Cooper OT Ole Miss
6/207 Jeff Driskel QB Louisiana Tech
6/211 Kelvin Taylor RB Florida
6/213 Aaron Burbridge WR Michigan State
7/249 Prince Charles Iworah CB Western Kentucky

The biggest grade increase went to the Dallas Cowboys, who upgraded from a "C" to an "A-," mostly due to the selections of QB Dak Prescott and RB Ezekiel Elliott.

The biggest grade decrease by Kiper went to the Washington Redskins, who originally earned an "A-" but now receive a "C+" grade.

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