Junfu Han-USA TODAY Sports

Junfu Han-USA TODAY Sports


Draft grades roundup: Analysts weigh in on 49ers selections of RB Trey Sermon, CB Ambry Thomas

Apr 30, 2021 at 10:48 PM--


The 49ers finished Day 2 of the 2021 NFL Draft by spending third-round picks on running back Trey Sermon of Ohio State and cornerback Ambry Thomas of Michigan. Reaction to the selection of each player seemed to be mostly positive, with a few naysayers thrown in.

Here's a rundown of what online analysts said about the selections. Click on a name or site to see that analyst's full draft grades.

(Click here to see the rundown for Round 2 pick Aaron Banks)

* Bleacher Report/Brent Sobleski: A for Sermon. "Sermon is made for Kyle Shanahan's zone strength. He will press the hole, make a decisive cut and break would-be tackle attempts," wrote Sobleski. "Shanahan's system has a long history of churning out 1,000-yard rushers even though they aren't household names. Sermon already showed what he can do on the biggest stage in college."

* CBS Sports/Chris Trapasso: B-minus for both Sermon and Thomas. Trapasso on Sermon: "Surprising make-you-miss type because he's a power back. Awesome in a zone-blocking scheme, so it's sensible for 49ers. Just surprised Shanahan went RB this early."

Trapasso on Thomas: "Speedy skinny man coverage cornerback. Not physical and will struggle against bigger wideouts. Good, not great agility. Serious recovery speed."

* Draft Kings/Chet Gresham: A for both Sermon and Thomas. Gresham on Sermon: "Sermon landed in the perfect scheme for his abilities as a one-cut rusher. He's a big, decisive back, who Kyle Shanahan will put in great spots to put up yardage."

Gresham on Thomas: "Thomas is a physical player who can get into trouble with penalties, but the aggressiveness is good to see and something the 49ers can work with. He's consistent and willing to learn."

* Draft Wire/Luke Easterling: C-plus for Sermon, B-minus for Thomas. Easterling on Sermon: "Kyle Shanahan keeps reloading his offense, this time with a big, physical running back to help keep things balanced. Sermon had a fantastic 2020 campaign after transferring from Oklahoma, but taking him over North Carolina's Michael Carter is an intriguing decision."

Easterling on Thomas: "The 49ers fill their biggest need on defense here, taking a smart, athletic cover man who was tested by some talented pass-catchers in the Big Ten. He's also a dynamic return man, which will allow him to make an immediate impact on special teams."

* Sporting News/Vinnie Iyer: A for Sermon, B for Thomas. Iyer on Sermon: "The 49ers needed a big back to support Raheem Mostert and Jeff Wilson Jr. in their superior zone-blocking rushing attack and made a great call in adding more speed, quickness and fundamentals for their scheme. Sermon can be a very effective, unique change of pace."

Iyer on Thomas: "The 49ers got their versatile contingency plan for aging Jimmie Ward. Thomas is a physical cover man built to work the inside. But with more short-area quickness and good run-stopping traits, he might be primed to play more safety than nickel."

* WalterFootball.com/Walter Cherepinsky: D for Sermon, B-minus for Thomas. Cherepinsky on Sermon: "I'm surprised the 49ers traded up for a running back in the third round because it seems as though Kyle Shanahan can draft a running back in the eighth round and turn him into a star. Trey Sermon is a powerful runner, but he has poor vision and anticipation, which concerns me. He's also not good in pass protection, which is also a problem."

Cherepinsky on Thomas: "The 49ers lost multiple defensive backs this offseason, so they had to address both positions during the 2021 NFL Draft. Ambry Thomas is a fine selection. I had him slotted early on Day 3, so taking him at the end of the third frame isn't too bad."

* Eric Edholm/Yahoo Sports: B-minus on Sermon, C-plus on Thomas. Edholm on Sermon: " He could grab a starting role before long in San Francisco as a really intriguing fit in their inside- and outside-zone scheme. Sermon has power and surprising burst that was on display in a brilliant Big Ten title game, as well as at various other points at both Oklahoma and Ohio State. What held him back were consistency and health. Fantasy folks, keep an eye on this match."

Edholm on Thomas: "A favorite of ours, Thomas' past health worries and his opt-out season were the only thing keeping him out of our top 100 prospects. He's not all that thick or long, which makes him a slightly curious fit for the 49ers' system. But his tenacious approach, physicality and competitiveness are infectious. He's also got the ideal temperament for special teams duty."

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