placeholder image

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

2023 NFL Draft: How did experts grade the 49ers’ draft class?

Apr 30, 2023 at 10:10 AM--

Videos are auto-populated by an affiliate. This site has no control over the videos that appear above.
The 2023 NFL Draft is in the books, and the San Francisco 49ers find themselves with a draft class of nine players—five on defense, three on offense, and a special teamer. It's time for the coaching staff to focus on inserting its new pieces into the plan for the upcoming season. It's also time for the media "experts" to hand out their annual grades of each NFL team's most recent crop of rookies.

Grading players who have yet to take an NFL snap may seem pointless, especially this early in the offseason. However, it's a way to gauge the perception of how each team improved based on its projected pre-draft needs.

Below are the grades issued by some of the more well-known analysts and writers within the media and what they had to say about the 49ers' 2023 draft class. Quotes accompany the explanations provided by each analyst for the given grade.

49ers Draft Picks

Mel Kiper, ESPN: B-

2023 NFL draft grades for all 32 teams: Mel Kiper's steals, sleepers

For the fourth year in a row (double check to make sure I'm not looking at a previous year's grade), the ESPN analyst awarded the 49ers a B- grade for their draft haul, admitting that it was a strange class to grade due to the team owning 11 total selections but lacking any in the first or second rounds. There was one glaring gripe, though—one of the team's three third-round selections.

"And yet, I like a bunch of these picks, except for kicker Jake Moody (99) in Round 3," wrote Kiper. "I get that it's a need, but that's incredibly early, and I didn't even have him as the best kicker in the class. I had a second-round grade on safety Ji'Ayir Brown (87), so I'm a fan of his potential. Tight end Cameron Latu (101) has upside, and he'll get to learn the ropes from George Kittle. Linebacker Dee Winters (216) went about 60 picks after I thought he would. Brayden Willis (247) is going to make an impact as a rookie special-teamer."

Kiper questions not drafting a tackle to replace Mike McGlinchey. The 49ers admit to having a lot of confidence in Colton McKivitz. Clearly, Kiper is less confident.

RELATED John Lynch, Kyle Shanahan explain why the 49ers didn't address O-line in the draft

Gilberto Manzano, Sports Illustrated: C+

NFL Draft 2023 Grades: Analysis of Every Team's Picks

Manzano likes the 49ers' first draft pick, comparing him to a talented safety drafted in 2021.

"San Francisco got it right with Talanoa Hufanga two years ago in the fifth round," wrote Manzano. "Brown has similar traits to Hufanga as a physical playmaker with solid ball skills. With a stacked roster, the 49ers had the flexibility to reach for Moody, the best kicker in the draft. Moody could become a reliable kicker in the NFL, but it's risky to expect a rookie to make game-winning kicks for a team with Super Bowl aspirations. The 49ers added to their talented defense with Luter and Beal."

Chad Reuter, B-

2023 NFL Draft: Final quick-snap grades for all 32 teams

There is no change from the overall grade issued to the 49ers' draft class from a year ago. Reuter actually issued grades for each day, with San Francisco lacking a Day 1 pick due to the trade for Trey Lance. That earned the team a C+ for the first day.

The team earned a B- for Day 2 and a B+ for Day 3.

"The Niners did not have first- or second-round picks after making trades for Trey Lance (still waiting to see if that pays off) and Christian McCaffrey (so far, so good)," wrote Reuter. "In the third round, they moved up for the instinctual safety they needed in Brown, bucked conventional wisdom by grabbing the kicker they're craving in Moody and reached a bit for Latu, a solid tight end.

"Luter is a fierce cornerback who will step in for the Niners as a rookie, while Beal will likely back up veterans on the edge. I love Winters and Graham at linebacker, while Bell plays receiver with linebacker-type toughness."

Vinnie Iyer, Sporting News: B-

NFL Draft grades 2023: All 32 draft classes ranked from best (Steelers) to worst (Jets)

Iyer is among those who penalized the 49ers for lack of a first- or second-round pick while grading the team's draft haul. Still, his grade for this year is better than last year's C- mark.

"The 49ers' draft capital didn't start until the third round, so this grade reflects that," wrote Iyer. "Brown and Moody give them immediate impact as contenders, as Brown can start over Tashaun Gipson Sr. next to Talanoa Hufanga and Moody is a bigger leg and needed young upgrade over Robbie Gould."

Nate Davis, USA Today: C+

NFL draft 2023 grades: Eagles lead top team classes as Cowboys, Lions flop

A slightly lower mark than last year's B- grade. Again, a lack of picks until the third round doesn't help. However, Davis wasn't as critical as most about using one of those third-rounders on a kicker.

"They didn't pick before the third round due to the trades that brought QB Trey Lance (bad) and the one for RB Christian McCaffrey (good), though obviously neither move has yet brought a long-awaited sixth Lombardi Trophy," wrote Davis. "Third-rounders Ji'Ayir Brown (safety) and Jake Moody (kicker) should be important cogs for a mostly loaded team, and spending a premium pick to replace free agent K Robbie Gould isn't all that crazy."

Pro Football Focus: C-

2023 NFL Draft grades for all 32 teams

Pro Football Focus gave the 49ers draft a significantly lower grade than last year's B+ mark.

"Brown was a do-it-all safety for the Nittany Lions," the analytics site wrote of San Francisco's first pick. "He seamlessly went from deep safety to the box to the slot to outside linebacker to mugging the A-gap, and he executed each role at a high level. Brown's ball skills, in particular, jump off the screen. He secured 10 interceptions across the past two seasons."

While Pro Football Focus praises Moody, like many, the site questions using a third-round pick on the kicker. The analytics site didn't seem as fond of the Latu selection either, saying the tight end's "production just wasn't there in 2022."

As for Day 3...

"Luter has traits to work with on the outside with above-average length and decent straight-line speed and explosiveness," wrote Pro Football Focus. "He took a bit of a step back in 2022 from a production standpoint after allowing just a 27% completion percentage and a 3.9 passer rating in 2021.

"Beal's numbers from his final season in college aren't going to blow anyone away. He produced a 67.8 PFF grade, won 14.1% of his pass-rushing attempts and made a tackle resulting in a defensive stop on just 6.7% of his run-defense snaps. Special teams will likely be his best path to seeing the field.

"Winters played 670 or more snaps in each of the past three seasons but hasn't produced a PFF grade of 55.0 or higher since the 2020 season. He missed 16.0% of the tackles he attempted this past season.

"Willis played an H-back role at Oklahoma that allowed him to excel as a blocker, grading above 80 in both run blocking and pass protection.

"Bell averaged 2.57 yards per route run in his final season in college. He struggled in contested catch situations, pulling in a reception on just 16.7% of his contested targets, but did produce a 77.4 PFF receiving grade."

Danny Kelly, The Ringer: C-

Grading Every Team's Performance in the 2023 NFL Draft

San Francisco earned a full lower grade for this year's draft than last year (B-).

"The 49ers were without first and second rounders this year (and were short a third and a fourth) thanks to previous trades for Trey Lance and Christian McCaffrey, so they had little premium capital to work with," wrote Kelly. "But San Francisco ended up picking nine players; my favorite was the third-round selection of Penn State safety Ji'Ayir Brown. The former Nittany Lions star is a rangy, hard-hitting playmaker with excellent instincts—and he gives the 49ers some excellent depth behind Talanoa Hufanga and Tashaun Gipson. The rest of GM John Lynch's draft class lacked star power, though—and included a third-round kicker—so it's tough to give the Niners a big grade this year."


Facebook Comments

More San Francisco 49ers News

placeholder image

Several former 49ers named among 173 nominees for Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2024

By Site Staff
Sep 19

The Pro Football Hall of Fame named the 173 nominees for its Class of 2024. Several former San Francisco 49ers players are on the list, as Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area pointed out. Pro Football Hall of Fame nominees include ex-49ers Jeff Garcia, Ricky Watters, Charlie Garner, Brian Westbrook, Anquan Boldin, Justin Smith, Dana Stubblefield, Ted Washington, NaVorro Bowman, Takeo Spikes, Patrick Willis, Lee Woodall, Julian Peterson, Merton Hanks, Tim McDonald.— Matt Maiocco (@MaioccoNBCS) September 19,

placeholder image

What 49ers' Kyle Shanahan did to improve as a head coach this offseason

By Rohan Chakravarthi
Sep 18

The San Francisco 49ers offense has been rolling through two weeks of the 2023 NFL season, scoring 30 points in each of their first two games, with opportunities for even more had some plays been executed in Week 2. At the forefront of the action is head coach Kyle Shanahan, who seems as deep in his bag as ever, and his playcalling has been a significant reason for the 49ers' sustained success early on. In Week 1, Shanahan conducted the offense to four scoring drives on their first four opportunities, while scoring three times on four drives in the first half against the Los Angeles Rams, with the lone missed chance coming on a series where quarterback Brock Purdy overthrew an open Brandon Aiyuk for a potential touchdown. Now, Shanahan carries two

placeholder image

49ers RB Christian McCaffrey once again nominated for FedEx Ground NFL Player of the Week

By David Bonilla
Sep 18

Running back Christian McCaffrey has once again been nominated for the FedEx Ground Player of the Week, an award he won after Week 1. The latest nomination comes after the San Francisco 49ers' Week 2 30-23 win over the Los Angeles Rams. McCaffrey rushed for 116 yards on 20 carries (5.8-yard average) and a rushing touchdown in the win over the Rams. His 268 rushing yards through the first two weeks of the season leads the NFL by an 88-yard margin. Other nominees for this week's award are Miami running back Raheem Mostert, who rushed for 121 yards on 18 carries (6.7 average) and two touchdowns in Week 2, and Philadelphia running back D'Andre Swift, who rushed for 175 yards on 28 attempts (6.3 average) and a touchdown. FedEx gives fans the opportunity

placeholder image

"They are basically fielding the NFL All-Pro team": Where the 49ers stand in Week 3 power rankings

By David Bonilla
Sep 19

The San Francisco 49ers have now won 12 consecutive regular-season games, just three games shy of tying the 15-game record set between the 1989 and 1990 seasons. Sunday's 30-23 win against the Los Angeles Rams may not have been the prettiest of victories, but Kyle Shanahan's squad improved to 2-0 on the season and sit alone atop the NFC West. The 49ers managed to beat their division rival despite quarterback Brock Purdy having arguably his most unimpressive game as a starter. He finished the game 17-of-25 for 206 yards and a passer rating of 93.1, a new regular-season career-low as a starter. Meanwhile, running back Christian McCaffrey leads the NFL with 268 rushing yards and ranks second only to wide receiver Justin Jefferson of the Minnesota Vikings in


Trending News

Share 49ersWebzone