The draft grades are in! Experts give 49ers high marks

May 1, 2017 at 12:41 PM--

Draft grades for the 2017 class don't mean a whole lot right now. In three or four years, it may be worth looking back and grading the current draft class, but for now, it is impossible to predict the impact of the 253 players who were selected.

That's not going to stop analysts and writers from grading each team's 2017 class anyway. Overall, the majority were really impressed with general manager John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan's first draft, giving the team high marks for its selections.

There were some commonalities. While each expert raved about the 49ers' round one performance, the selections, the trades, and the haul in future draft picks, none were particularly keen on the selection of Iowa quarterback C.J. Beathard at the end of the third round.

Let's take a look at some of those grades.

Mel Kiper, ESPN: A-

Mel Kiper's 2017 NFL draft grades

Only two teams graded higher than the 49ers in Kiper's eyes. They were the Los Angeles Chargers and the New England Patriots, which both received an 'A' grade.

Kiper said that Lynch didn't look like a rookie general manager in his first draft. He complimented his "two smart trades" in the first round to acquire Stanford defensive lineman Solomon Thomas, Alabama linebacker Reuben Foster, and even more future draft picks. "The added draft value allowed them easy passage to slide up for Foster," Kiper wrote. "Even if you didn't love these players, you'd have to say bravo to the maneuvering"

Kiper liked the selections of Colorado cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon and Utah running back Joe Williams since they filled needs. "George Kittle is the best fullback/tight end hybrid in the draft," Kiper wrote. "D.J. Jones and Pita Taumoepenu are useful D-line depth pieces and Trent Taylor could help at receiver."

Kiper, like so many others, did question the decision to move up and select Beathard. Although, Lynch went on KNBR this morning and explained the decision to target Beathard and why Shanahan compares him to Kirk Cousins.

"Overall, the 49ers did well to not just settle for picking good players and make a play for adding a second elite player," Kiper wrote. "Reuben Foster carries some risk, but at No. 31? Bring it on. This is a good start to the Lynch era."

Chad Reuter, B+

Quick-snap grades for all 32 teams

Reuter gave 'A' grades to the 49ers for their Day 1 and Day 3 hauls. It was Day 2, which received a 'C+' that brought the overall grade down a bit. He was impressed with the 49ers' ability to trade and get the guys who they wanted.

"They picked the second-best player in the draft in Solomon Thomas," Reuter wrote of the 49ers' selection with the third overall pick.

"If Foster's shoulder is OK, he'll be another Patrick Willis in the middle," Reuter wrote of the 49ers' selection at the end of the first round.

Reuter feels that Witherspoon in the third filled a need, but will need time to get ready. He questioned the selection of Beathard over other available quarterbacks like Joshua Dobbs and Nathan Peterman. Dobbs went in the fourth round to the Pittsburgh Steelers and Peterman went in the fifth round to the Buffalo Bills.

"I would have liked to see the Niners get offensive line help, but they could get that after the draft," Reuter wrote. On Monday, the 49ers signed former Minnesota Vikings guard Brandon Fusco and Los Angeles Rams center Tim Barnes.

Eric Edholm, Yahoo! Sports: A-

32 team grades for the 2017 NFL draft

Edholm's favorite picks were the 49ers' first two. He called the selection of Thomas "safe" but felt the ability to get him and still add picks was "brilliant." The selection of Foster was described as a "home-run swing."

"General manager John Lynch operated those picks like a 15-year pro," wrote Edholm. "If he is managed carefully off the field, Foster could be the next Patrick Willis."

Of course, Edholm listed the selection of Beathard as the 49ers' worst pick. "This is not the team's future starter, so it felt like a poor value selection that could have made more sense later," Edholm wrote. "It was one of the few picks they made that was hard to get behind. Beathard isn't physically gifted enough to be a starter."

Chris Burke, Sports Illustrated: A-

2017 NFL draft grades: Final analysis of all 32 teams

"Aside from not finding a quarterback, rookie GM John Lynch took home the Day 1 title," Burke wrote. He is yet another writer who loved what Lynch did in that first trade with the Chicago Bears and then the move back into the first round to select Foster.

As for the rest of the draft, Burke was less impressed. He questioned the Witherspoon pick, who he says is not physical at all, and he called the trade to select Beathard a "mind-boggling decision." "Beathard was going to be there on Day 3, and there were better options at the position," Burke wrote.

"Everything was gravy after the first round," Burke concluded.

Nate Davis, USA TODAY: A

2017 NFL draft team grades: Who had best, worst classes?

Davis was impressed with the trades that Lynch and the 49ers pulled off during the draft – especially the two in the first round that eventually netted Thomas and Foster, who he called "two of this year's most coveted players."

Davis felt that Witherspoon could help and shared the following about the rest of the 49ers' picks:

"Teamed with Carlos Hyde, fourth-round RB Joe Williams could give Shanahan the two-pronged attack he leveraged so well in Atlanta last year. Round 5 TE George Kittle could flourish after getting few opportunities to show his gifts at Iowa. Taking his Hawkeyes teammate, QB C.J. Beathard, in the third round might have raised eyebrows given he doesn't project as a starter. But maybe he's a long-term backup option since veteran stopgaps Brian Hoyer and Matt Barkley are only under contract for the next two years."

Pete Prisco, CBS Sports: A

Prisco's NFL Draft Grades for all 32 teams

Prisco called the trade with the Chicago Bears a "fleecing" by Lynch and the 49ers. "Then they took Solomon Thomas with the third overall pick, and he is a future star," Prisco wrote. "They next traded back into the first to get linebacker Reuben Foster with the 31st pick, and he will be a steal. I thought taking quarterback C.J. Beathard in the third was too high, but it was good first draft for the 49ers. Watch out for sixth-round defensive tackle D.J. Jones from Mississippi. He could be a steal."

Vinnie Iyer, Sporting News: A

NFL Draft grades: Browns, 49ers top class

Iyer wrote the following regarding the 49ers' draft:

"In his first draft, GM John Lynch was focused on stockpiling for this year and beyond, helped by that brilliant trade down with the Bears. Rebuilding the defense was a wise priority, with offensive depth next. At quarterback, they clearly think Kirk Cousins is a done deal for 2018, as Beathard is more backup material."

Dieter Kurtenbach, FOX Sports: A-

2017 NFL Draft Final Grades: How did your team do?

Outside of the Beathard selection, Kurtenbach absolutely loved the 49ers' draft class. Here is what he had to say:

"Nine absolutely perfect picks. Grade A picks. I particularly love the Reuben Foster and George Kittle selections. Then... QB C.J. Beathard in the third round. I don't know many people who had him as a draftable prospect — we all hope he works out as an NFL player, but that's an F pick, bringing down the 49ers' winning grade."

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