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Draft Grades: 2016 San Francisco 49ers Selections

Apr 30, 2016 at 10:19 PM--


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The 2016 NFL Draft is complete and the San Francisco 49ers selected 11 new players to their roster. Six of those selections were offensive players. However, four of the team's first five selections were on the defensive side of the ball. Two were defensive ends and three were offensive lineman. The team even selected a quarterback with one of their later selections.

What did the "draft experts" think about the 49ers' selections over the past three days? Here are just a few of the overall team grades – in no particular order.

RELATED The San Francisco 49ers 2016 NFL Draft selections

Doug Farrar of Sports Illustrated
Grade: A-
49ers GM Trent Baalke must have been grinning ear-to-ear when the Chargers reached on Joey Bosa at No. 3, leaving DeForest Buckner on the board. Buckner is the best defensive lineman in this class, and his versatility will add a ton to San Francisco's defense. And, the trade back into the first round to nab Stanford guard Josh Garnett will pay great dividends as long as Garnett can get the knack of Chip Kelly's preference for quicker, zone-based guards. Garnett is more of an agile mauler. Third-round cornerback Will Redmond would have gone higher in this draft based on pure talent, but injuries got in the way. LSU cornerback Rashard Robinson doesn't have a ton of starts either, but Baalke has never been shy about betting on upside. Louisiana Tech QB Jeff Driskel looked horrid at Florida, but he impressed after his transfer to Louisiana Tech. Florida running back Kelvin Taylor, the son of Fred Taylor, has the quickest feet of any back in this class. Watch out also for seventh-round cornerback Prince Charles Iworah, who looked like a shutdown guy against lesser competition. The 49ers have a nice combination of potential and first-day starters here.

Chad Reuter of NFL.com
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. Redmond is coming off an injury, but teams knew he would come off the board in the third round so that was no surprise. He should work his way into a nickel or starting role when back on the field. In Round 4, Robinson's athleticism was worth the gamble. They got great value in the Blair pick. He should be a starter as a five-technique despite a poor combine workout. Theus and Cooper are swing tackle candidates who should only get better with time.

RELATED 2016 49ers Undrafted Free Agent Tracker

Steve Palazzolo of Pro Football Focus
Grade: B+
Day 1: One of the best picks in the draft, the 49ers took the No. 2 player on the PFF draft board in Buckner, a he happens to be a perfect fit for their 3-4 scheme. He's a disruptive presence against the run, grading at +29.8 last season (eighth in the class), while leading the nation with a +43.8 pass-rush grade. Buckner rarely came off the field for Oregon, playing more snaps than any interior defensive lineman in the nation and he was able to maintain his production throughout the season. San Francisco then traded back into the first round to secure the top run-blocking guard in the draft in Garnett. He is excellent on the move and despite some question marks about his pass protection, he should be a good fit in Chip Kelly's scheme.
Day 2: Redmond is a solid zone defender who is quick to read and break on the ball, although that aggressiveness can get him into trouble at times. His +1.6 coverage grade ranked No. 56 in the class.
Day 3: Robinson didn't play in 2015, but his length and speed made him a coveted mid-round option. Blair's +42.7 overall grade ranked 13th in the draft class, as he can make plays against the run and as a pass rusher though he has to get stronger at the point of attack in the run game. Driskel took a huge step forward this year for Louisiana Tech as his +22.0 passing grade ranked 11th in the class and his athleticism is a good fit for Chip Kelly's system. His former teammate at Florida, Kelvin Taylor, made the most of subpar blocking at Florida to finish with the No. 7 run grade in the class at +19.4. Burbridge doesn't separate well, but he can make contested catches and he caught 64.0 percent of his deep targets, fourth-best in the class.

Lindsay H. Jones of USA TODAY Sports
Grade: C-
The Niners needed depth at just about every position, and they used this draft to load up on corners (taking one each in the third and fourth rounds) and offensive linemen (three of them). But the biggest takeaway from the 49ers this weekend is that they'll be moving forward this season with Colin Kaepernick and Blaine Gabbert as the top two quarterbacks after waiting until the sixth round to take a quarterback -- Louisiana Tech's Jeff Driskell.

Rob Rang of CBS Sports
Grade: B-
It wasn't long ago that the 49ers were the bullies of the NFC West, and it was commitment to physicality along the line of scrimmage which returned in the first round, with San Francisco nabbing the 6-foot-7, 291-pound DeForest Buckner at No. 7 overall and then trading back up for guard Joshua Garnett, giving the team the Defensive and Offensive Lineman of the Year, respectively, in the Pac-12. The 49ers took the same double-down approach at cornerback next, nabbing former SEC standouts in Will Redmond and lanky press corner Rashard Robinson. Each comes with significant concerns, however, with Redmond coming off an ACL tear and Robinson kicked off of the team at LSU. Of San Francisco's Day 3 selections, I'm most intrigued by former Appalachian State edge rusher Ronald Blair, who dominated at the lower level. Jeff Driskel struggled at Florida but he resurrected his career at Louisiana Tech and is an ideal match in Chip Kelly's offense, making him an intriguing late round selection for a club with plenty of questions at quarterback.

Paul Gutierrez of ESPN
Thumbs Down
A curious draft for a rebuilding team, to be sure. The Niners drafted three cornerbacks but no inside linebackers. They traded up to select a player at a position that was already addressed in free agency. And they fortified the right side of the offensive line with late picks and Anthony Davis making noise about returning from retirement. Oh, and they drafted a QB in the sixth round. Curious? More like strange.

Bart Hubbuch of the New York Post
Grade: C+
A Chip Kelly-coached team went for an Oregon player — big shock — with its top pick, though DeForest Buckner looks like a rare Duck defender with staying power. But they traded up for a guard, then loaded up on injury and character concerns.

Evan Silva, Rotoworld
Grade: D+
GM Trent Baalke got good value with Buckner, who was believed to be in consideration as high as San Diego's pick at No. 3. Baalke then made an odd-ball move to trade up for Garnett, costing fourth- (105) and sixth-round picks (178) in exchange for just a nine-spot jump. It's rare to see an NFL team trade up in the first round for an offensive guard, especially one with Garnett's athletic limitations. Redmond and Robinson are undersized, inexperienced projects at cornerback who weren't deserving of the draft capital Baalke spent. The Blair pick was probably Baalke's best from a value perspective, while Driskel is toolsy enough to bring to camp and perhaps stash on the practice squad. On a bad team like the 49ers, however, it was disappointing to see Baalke emerge with so few likely immediate contributors when he was working with 11 picks. The back-to-back cornerbacks figure to determine how this draft is viewed years from now. I can't say I'm optimistic about either.



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