Draft Grades: DeForest Buckner selection praised, Joshua Garnett grades mixed

Apr 29, 2016 at 10:51 AM--

On Thursday, the San Francisco 49ers made two first-round selections in the 2016 NFL Draft. The first was Oregon DE DeForest Buckner with the seventh overall selection. The second was Stanford OG Joshua Garnett, after trading up to acquire the 28th overall selection from the Kansas City Chiefs.

RELATED Round 1, Pick 7: 49ers select Oregon DE DeForest Buckner

The reaction from "draft experts" has been mixed. While the majority praise the selection of Buckner, many are not too sure about the selection of Garnett. Specifically, moving up to get him when they graded him lower. However, there has been word that other teams at the end of round one, particularly the Seattle Seahawks, were giving Garnett some serious consideration. Garnett was a player that the 49ers really liked and were impressed by at the team's local pro day.

RELATED Round 1, Pick 28: 49ers select Stanford OG Joshua Garnett

Here is a look at what some had to say about the 49ers' two selections in the first round – in no particular order. Needless to say that Walter Cherepinsky of WalterFootball.com was not a fan of the 49ers' moving up to select Garnett.

Chad Reuter of NFL.com

Team Grade: B
Buckner is an excellent pick in the top seven as the impact defensive end they've missed since Justin Smith has left. Garnett is my favorite offensive line prospect in this draft, and the 49ers need to replace Alex Boone. But giving up two picks in the deepest draft in history for a guard is a tough sell for me.

Pete Prisco of CBS Sports

Buckner: A+
This is a great pick. Cleanest, best down player in this draft, Love this pick for the 49ers.

Garnett: B-
They needed guard help, so it makes sense. I liked him, but some scouts thought he was soft.

Doug Farrar of Sports Illustrated

Buckner: A
The 49ers take who the Chargers should have taken with the third overall pick. Unlike Joey Bosa, Buckner actually is the best defensive lineman in this class, with the ability to dominate everywhere from head-over nose tackle to wide-nine defensive end. He is not a carbon copy of Arik Armstead, the former Oregon teammate the 49ers took in the first round last year—Armstead is half the player Buckner is right now. Buckner looks like a faster, more flexible Calais Campbell with all of Campbell's power. This is a major boost for a San Francisco defense that has lost more than its share of stars over the last two seasons.

Garnett: B
When the 49ers were crushing opponents with Jim Harbaugh's rushing attack, Mike Iupati was decimating opponents with his power at left guard. Garnett projects well as a similar player. He's a pure power guy who may need a bit of adjustment in Chip Kelly's zone scheme. Garnett has the talent to switch, and though it may take time for that to happen, he's going to be a special player over time. It's just a matter of scheme fit and how much you believe it's worth it to spend three picks to trade back into the first round for a guard.

Steve Palazzolo of Pro Football Focus

Buckner: A+
A perfect fit for the 49ers' 3-4 scheme, DeForest Buckner reunites in San Francisco with former Oregon teammate Arik Armstead. Buckner was our top-graded interior defensive lineman in 2015, leading the nation with a +43.8 pass rush grade and ranking eighth against the run at +29.8. Perhaps just as impressive, he led the nation with 951 snaps and still kept up his incredible production. Buckner's a disruptive presence, capable of pushing the pocket, winning with his hands and adding excellent range in the run game to make plays. Buckner is the No. 2 player on the PFF Draft Board and the 49ers got a steal at No. 7 overall.

Garnett: C+
The top run-blocking guard in the class, Garnett is the best run blocker on the move and he will crush opponents at the point of attack. Coming out of Stanford's power/gap scheme, he pulled quite a bit and he's excellent at blocking through targets while on the move. It's an interesting fit for the 49ers and new head coach Chip Kelly (who likes to run more zone concepts), but Garnett will still have plenty of opportunities to block on the move, but also move defensive tackles on their inside zone concepts. Pass protection is an issue at times – he ranked 26th in the draft class at +2.8 – but Garnett's run blocking was too much to pass up for San Francisco.

Buckner: B+
The 49ers are building up their defense from the inside-out. Buckner eats up double teams in the run game and has the potential to develop into a top pass rusher. Offensive line is still San Francisco's biggest need, and passing up Laremy Tunsil — even after the Twitter video of him taking bong hits emerged — may be a move the team ends up regretting.

Garnett: B
Chip Kelly learned the value of a good interior offensive line last season in Philadelphia. The Eagles' lack of strength in the interior ruined their inside run game and the entire offense along with it. The 49ers had similar issues, but Garnett will improve the line from day one.

Eric Edholm of Shutdown Corner

Buckner: A-
Chip Kelly and especially defensive line coach Jerry Azzinaro (with whom Buckner is extremely tight) signed off on this pick early, and though there were other options for the team, this was a no-brainer. For the second straight year, the 49ers select an Oregon 5-technique, and this one was even better than 2015 first-rounder Arik Armstead. Buckner should be a star who can play a high volume of snaps and wreck blocking schemes.

Garnett: C-
So the 49ers moved up to this spot to take a passionate, smart, physical run-blocking guard. Sorry, but we're not jazzed. Garnett is one of the more fun players to talk football with – he's driven and intelligent – and he could start Day 1 at either guard spot. But does he fit with Chip Kelly's preference for lighter-footed offensive linemen? Garnett isn't a total slug, but he might have to take Kelly's renowned health regimen seriously to shape his body better.

Walter Cherepinsky of WalterFootball.com

Buckner: A
In the two hours in which I changed my third pick to Ronnie Stanley, I wrote that one team that won because of San Diego's stupidity was the 49ers, because it allowed DeForest Buckner to fall into their laps. Excluding Tunsil, who is now scaring teams off because of some random picture, Buckner was the best player available. He also fills a huge need. The 49ers needed help on the defensive line to replace Justin Smith and Ray McDonald. They now have that with Buckner and his Oregon teammate Arik Armstead. Speaking of Oregon, it's nice that Buckner has familiarity with Chip Kelly. I think it always helps when a prospect or free agent goes to a team where he's comfortable with the scheme and coaching, and that's the case here.

A Millen grade! The 2016 NFL Draft is complete! Wow. Taking Joshua Garnett here at No. 28 would've been bad enough, but to move into the first round to grab him is borderline insane. I don't know if Garnett was the only person who accepted an invite to Trent Baalke's birthday party or not, but that's no reason to select a third-round prospect at this juncture. Moving up for Myles Jack would've made a ton of sense, and quite frankly, it would've been one of the best picks in the first round. Getting Garnett here after a trade, on the other hand, is absolutely ridiculous. Almost as ridiculous as posting a picture of someone smoking a kielbasa on Twitter.

Mike Tanier of Bleacher Report

Buckner: A
Buckner's "type" is a two-gap defensive end, the brick and mortar of any 3-4 defense. The two-gap defensive end causes congestion that forces running backs to bounce outside and disrupts or occupies blocks so the pass-rushers can get all the glory.

Garnett: C+
Garnett is an odd choice for a Chip Kelly offense. He will be stepping laterally and reaching out to block on zone-stretch runs about five times every two minutes if everything goes according to plan. Then again, the 49ers allowed 53 sacks last year, Joe Staley is the only lineman who looks like a starter on a playoff team, and Kelly works well with high-IQ players like Garnett. Trading up for a guard? Trent Baalke may be running the draft, but Kelly gets what Kelly wants.

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