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MadDog49er 2019 NFLDraft Niners Review

Christmas for football junkies has come and gone. The 2019 NFL Draft was another opportunity for teams to pick up talented players and address roster needs. As always, some teams did a fantastic job of scouting and selecting players in value positions. Others wasted this opportunity.

I felt the Niners had a mixed draft, and missed many chances to improve an already impressive roster. There is no doubt the team is collecting talented players through trade and free agency.

My evaluation below for the team will NEVER factors in these things: Free agent acquisitions, undrafted free agent signings, players acquired via draft picks, trades during the draft, etc. It will only measure the player selected while the team was on the clock. Here we go…

1. Nick Bosa, Ohio State, DE- This was the right choice for the team. While the team is not desperate for a LDE, Bosa brings elite skills in both pass and run defense. He can run through RTs, has enough juice and power to win through contact on the outside. He doesn't have elite bend, but has an outstanding rip move, swim move and powerful hands. His NFL-ready body will allow him to step in right away and dominate. It would be a surprise to see less than 7 sacks his rookie year. This is a 10+ sack per year monster.Glad the team did not overthink the pick
Grade: A+

2. Deebo Samuel, South Carolina, WR- Quick and athletic WR that played at a high level against solid competition in the SEC. Is versatile because he can play inside and outside, and can return punts and kickoffs. Will be a player who the team can use on jet sweeps, as a running back on certain plays. He is a chess piece you can move all over the field. Had a really superb Senior Bowl week. Samuel was number 7 on my WR board. He was the 3rd WR taken in the draft. Had one monster game this year versus Clemson (210 yards), and two other 100 yard games (against Florida and Chattanooga). Pause for reflection: He also had 2018 games with 8, 17, 33 and 33 yards. So, a quarter of his games were almost a blank. Something that concerned me a bit, can he be consistently great? I see Samuel as WR3 right away, maybe upgrade to a WR2 over time for the team. SPARQ percentage is strong at 76%. There were better WRs on the board at the time, as well as outstanding players in the secondary that can start right away. I have limited inside sources within the players selected in the NFL draft, but I did have one with Samuel. The person I know sees Samuel VERY often, and doesn't have a very high opinion of him. My source, who is about the most level-headed guy you would ever meet, saw him as a somewhat selfish, self-absorbed individual, a guy that teammates did not rally behind. Take it for what you will. For me, since I trust my insider, it does color my impression of him, a bit. Overall, since this was an early 2nd rounder, I see this as a missed opportunity for a better player.
Grade: B-

3. Jalen Hurd, Baylor, WR- This was the first of back-to-back curveballs for the Niners. Let's start with the positive: Hurd is a tall, long, athletic player, who is versatile, as a former RB. His SPARQ percentile was 76%, just like Deebo. He has a better overall knowledge of an offense due to his time at RB, so I think there is football intelligence out there. In 12 games this year, Hurd had three 100 yard receiving games, none in the final six weeks of the season. Most of the rest of the season had similar lines for games, 4 catches for 60 yards. This is not very good for a Big 12 WR, especially if you are drafted 67th overall. Hurd is really, really raw, and it is going to take some time for him to produce. I see this as another gadget player/chess piece for Shanahan, much like the pick before in Samuel. As a 5th round pick, I think Hurd has value. As a third rounder, there were so many starters out there. We picked yet another backup, which, to me, is another wasted opportunity. Come on, man!!
Grade: D-

4. Mitch Wishnowsky, Utah, P- This is your yearly brick-through-the-TV pick courtesy of the Niners. Ok, he's a pretty good punter, and he's from Australia. That is a cute story….for a 7th rounder, not the 110th overall. Mark this down as a desperation, complete needs-based pick. This was not close to being a best available player. In the end, you get a punter The next players drafted were Kendall Sheffield, Bryce Love, Justice Hill, Sacramento-boy Dru Samia, Christian Miller, Amani Hooker. Those are some talented players we bypassed because of a desperate need to find a punter. When Rich Eisen mocks you (a pretty funny segment), you know you laid an egg. Wishnowsky finished 10th in the FBS with a 45.2-yard per punt gross average (thank you NFL.com). Shock and Awe? I see ....kerplunk.
Grade: D-

5. Dre Greenlaw, Arkansas, LB- This should not have been a surprise pick at 148 because the Niners had been all over Greenlaw in the pre-draft process. Greenlaw is a smooth and productive backer that must be projected to the Will position (I have not read a write-up from the team on where they plan to play him). At 230 pounds and slightly shorter than 6', this is a guy who I see as a run and chase, backside pursuit LB. He is not the most athletic of the LB options (his SPARQ came out to 16%), but he is a 4.7ish chase backer, who played well in the SEC. He saved his best games against LSU, Alabama and Texas A&M). Averaged about 9 tackles a game this season. Missed 4 games due to injury. To me, I saw a couple better options at LB in this slot, with bonus athleticism (Blake Cashman, Cole Holcomb), but this is not a bad pick.
Grade: B

6. Kaden Smith, Stanford, TE- With the first of three 6th round picks, the Niners picked Smith, one of the more productive average-yards-per-game TEs in this draft class. Smith played 9 games in 2018 (he missed four games due to injury), and averaged 70 yards per game, including some big performances against Utah, Washington St, and Washington. He is a decent blocker, and has a high football IQ. He also tested really poorly, running a 4.92, and testing below average in most categories. His SPARQ score of 11% shows a lack of athleticism compared to his peers. In the end, the team really needs a blocking TE to help flex Kittle out more often. Smith is good, but there were better options on the board.
Grade: B-

6. Justin Skule, Vanderbilt, OT- With the Niners second 6th rounder, they chose Skule, a developmental OT that has good height. He also comes from Vanderbilt, which tends to produce intelligent human beings. As for football, he is prone to be beat around the edge from twitchier edge rusher. Skule has played multiple positions on the OL. I figure the team is trying to find a swing tackle to develop. He was way down my board, and I'd be very surprised if he makes the 53 man. Practice squad material. They should have looked at Oli Udoh of Elon who went 11 picks later, or Mitch Hyatt of Clemson.
Grade: C-

6. Tim Harris, Virginia, CB- With their last pick, the Niners selected a tall and athletic CB who has good speed. Harris has a history of injuries (this was his SIXTH year at Virginia), and is already 24 years old. But, if he can stay healthy (he has had wrist surgery and a shoulder injury that knocked him out of 2016 and 2017), he has a chance to make the roster. Any guy who is almost 6'2', runs a sub 4.5 forty and breaks under 7 seconds in the 3 cone has an athletic profile that gives him a chance. PFF gave him solid marks for the year.
Grade: A-

In the end, I believe the Niners landed a great starter in Bosa, a solid number 2 WR in Samuel, a starting punter, a second string OLB, a second or third string TE, and a number of backups that need developmental work. I can't blame the team for not filling the main hole in their defense, the secondary with draftees. Sometimes the draft simply doesn't fall that way, as long as you are drafting the best player available. This is where it falls apart for me. Obviously, the team believed Jalen Hurd was better than Will Harris and Justin Layne and Chauncey Gardner Johnson (I disagree), and that Mitch Wishnowsky was better than Christian Miller, Amani Hooker, Hjalte Froholdt, Gary Jennings and Trevon Wesco (I disagree). The poor value of these picks really sinks much enthusiasm I have about the Niners' draft overall. For that reason, I give the team a C+ grade overall. Hopefully, I am wrong, and the Niners have drafted 8 perennial Pro-Bowlers. Let's revisit this draft in 5 years to make a better final determination. We will know by then if this draft was a success or a failure.
Final Grade: C+

My on the clock (no cheating) draft for 2019 was:
1. Bosa, DE, Ohio State
2. AJ Brown, WR, Mississippi- I love Brown's ability to win in the slot and on the outside. Excellent route running, good after the catch, seems to love the game.
3. Hakeem Butler, WR, Iowa St- The king of 20+ yard receptions. More than anyone else in college football last year. The drops will drive you crazy, but then, on the next play, he will catch a ball over the middle, throw off a defender, and run 50 yards for a TD. He's just a bad, bad man. Really fun to watch.
4. Amani Hooker, S, Iowa- Big Ten Defensive Back of the Year. He's just a smooth cat on the field. I believe a lot of teams will look back and wonder why he was still on the board in the 4th round
5. Trayveon Williams, RB, Texas A&M- My RB1 in this draft. Can run, catch, and is a beast in pass protection. Just a well-rounded game. The line for his last four college football games: 31 rushes/228; 20 for 167; 35 for 198; 19 for 236. This included 8 TDs. He's just a really good football player.
6. Tommy Sweeney, TE, Boston College- I loved TJ Hockenson and Foster Moreau as blockers in this TE class, and I think Sweeney is not far behind, and a very good value pick. Boston College was a HEAVY run-based team, and Sweeney did a solid job in his role. I believe he provides better upside than Kaden Smith at the next level.
6. Te'Von Coney, LB, Notre Dame- Not drafted, but will be on an NFL roster someday. Super productive and high football IQ. Not a sideline to sideline guy, but a stud between the hashes. Produced better than expected coverage grades from Pro Football Focus.
6. Mitch Hyatt, OT, Clemson- If you are going to draft an OL, you might as well pick a four year starter who has been the OL anchor for two national championships, and been an All-American. Smart, and a winner. I'll take that combo.

Special note: As always, my opinion is MY OPINION. I'd love to grade every Niners' pick as an A, because it would be very easy, and make everyone happy. It would also be very sloppy and disingenuous. I have to speak the truth (according to what I see), not what makes others happy. I may be right, I may be wrong, but you will always know it is genuine and generated from my own observations.

Stretching for the onslaught. Thanks to all for a great draft year.
-MD
[ Edited by MadDog49er on Apr 28, 2019 at 8:34 PM ]
Thanks for the write up MD. I think you were a little gentle on your review tbh. While I'm completely content with the draft due to landing Bosa. The rest of the draft i was very very underwhelmed by. But as always I'll wait to see how this draft looks on the field. Hoping for the best
Thanks for everything this draft cycle.

I think the FO was a bit too optimistic about the pre-draft roster, but hopefully there aren't many injuries and everything works out.

I get the sense that they wanted more short and intermediate weapons for Garoppolo and an all gas (and questionable brains ) defense. If that's the case, then at least the draft checked those boxes. Then, it'll be up to the coaching to realize those plans.
I think you will be dead wrong with the Hurd rating. The only problem with him is that we just haven't seen a lot of WR film. He's shown the ability to make people miss and run very good routes. Hurd gets in and out of breaks better than the guy everyone wanted in Hakeem Butler. I was very high on Hurd before the draft and had a feeling we would target him but I was honestly suprised he went so early. So my only problem with rounds 2 and 3 is that I wish we traded down with the bulk of talent that fell were in those rounds.

I worry this front office likes to think they are the smartest people in the room and finds their guys and completely ignore maximizing value to get those guys. Having said that, I have no problem with them doing this when it comes to weapons for this offense. Besides Joe Williams, everyone has produced.

I always appreciate your rankings and especially the WR ones because they are so unique compared to most rankings other "experts" have.

Thanks again MD and I'm really hoping your Isabellla scout report was way off because Murray to Isabella could be leathal.
Nice write up. Just curios why you'd want us to draft a RB while we have a full, loaded backfield ?
Great work as always MD, I think your write up with Samuel, even with a source describes most WR's these days. Most fall in line to a strong QB and someone like Staley so fingers crossed, they had him a week at the Senior bowl so hopefully saw enough.

A question, do you factor in scheme fit in your evaluation, because I feel if you do you don't value it as much as our staff, example of Pettis last year, overdrafted but perfect for Kyle, I see that with both WR's and ups my grade.

I think the Wishnowski situation is a product of an overreaction to Dickson last year (who I liked much more) without a 5th round pick I see the logic, and theres no way he'd have lasted to the 6th. I don't blame anyone for slamming the pick, even though punters are people too!

I really struggled on the back end, I wasn't anywhere near as deep as I was last year, watched less ball so can't really give any more opinions lower down, I do think Bosa is even better than you give him credit for, but we'll see.
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I think Lynch will not draft players in the secondary because he wants Witherspoon, Moore, Reed, Harris to develop and save his image as a GM. What surprises me is how they feel about the OL, especially at Guard. How can they not bring in a Guard to challenge Person for the starting job.

At Safety: They had players in round two and 3 that could of been selected and they passed on them.

Kaden Smith looks like he has great hands and will be interesting to see if he can make the roster. Hurd has to be a guy whom lines up at TE and be 49ers version of Aaron Hernandez.

Thought Arizona had the best draft in the division and 49ers should of challenged them, but 3rd and 4th round picks plus not addressing the secondary will bring their grade down.
Originally posted by Waterbear:
I think you will be dead wrong with the Hurd rating. The only problem with him is that we just haven't seen a lot of WR film. He's shown the ability to make people miss and run very good routes. Hurd gets in and out of breaks better than the guy everyone wanted in Hakeem Butler. I was very high on Hurd before the draft and had a feeling we would target him but I was honestly suprised he went so early. So my only problem with rounds 2 and 3 is that I wish we traded down with the bulk of talent that fell were in those rounds.

I worry this front office likes to think they are the smartest people in the room and finds their guys and completely ignore maximizing value to get those guys. Having said that, I have no problem with them doing this when it comes to weapons for this offense. Besides Joe Williams, everyone has produced.

I always appreciate your rankings and especially the WR ones because they are so unique compared to most rankings other "experts" have.

Thanks again MD and I'm really hoping your Isabellla scout report was way off because Murray to Isabella could be leathal.

We should be scared of the Cardinals. They are going to be a LOT better in 2019.
Originally posted by 49erBigMac:
Great work as always MD, I think your write up with Samuel, even with a source describes most WR's these days. Most fall in line to a strong QB and someone like Staley so fingers crossed, they had him a week at the Senior bowl so hopefully saw enough.

A question, do you factor in scheme fit in your evaluation, because I feel if you do you don't value it as much as our staff, example of Pettis last year, overdrafted but perfect for Kyle, I see that with both WR's and ups my grade.

I think the Wishnowski situation is a product of an overreaction to Dickson last year (who I liked much more) without a 5th round pick I see the logic, and theres no way he'd have lasted to the 6th. I don't blame anyone for slamming the pick, even though punters are people too!

I really struggled on the back end, I wasn't anywhere near as deep as I was last year, watched less ball so can't really give any more opinions lower down, I do think Bosa is even better than you give him credit for, but we'll see.

Bosa is a beast. I just hope he stays healthy. Scheme is a part of the equation (you can't expect a Bosa to play as a standup 34 OLB...this minimizes his value), but when you pick a player who is less talented than another because they fit a scheme, you are sliding down a dangerous path.
Originally posted by MadDog49er:
Bosa is a beast. I just hope he stays healthy. Scheme is a part of the equation (you can't expect a Bosa to play as a standup 34 OLB...this minimizes his value), but when you pick a player who is less talented than another because they fit a scheme, you are sliding down a dangerous path.

I can see that, and it can bite you in the @ss if you change scheme, but having someone like Deebo in our offense is better than a Hakeem Butler even if you have him graded slightly higher IMO.

I appreciate your objective writeup MD. Good job
Really good summary of the draft and I agree with almost everything. Only thing I would change is removing long from the description of Jalen Hurd. Not only is he extremely raw - he also has horrible length for his size with 32" arms (compared to Butler who has 35 1/4" arms). He's not as big a target as you would think at 6'5.

We seem to be prioritizing RAC guys as if Shanahan believes he can scheme guys open so we're looking for playmakers.

It's tough to come up with a draft grade for this draft. We couldn't have done much worse than this with the #2 pick unless we picked someone other than Bosa or QW at #2. We're a lot better by virtue of landing Bosa.
I think we'll find this to be a pretty good review once the dust settles and we see these guys play.
I don't necessarily have a problem with the guys we got, just where we got them. I mean, I get it....every team, evaluates and rates players differently (based on the scheme they run and need) than other teams, but you have to be aware of a players' value to other teams....that way you're not overdrafting players. I'm sure they do that, but it just doesn't appear that way.....The consensus is that we reached on almost every player....whether it was a little or a lot. That disappoints me more than anything else.

Even if this turns out to be an awesome draft in hindsight...it doesn't change the fact that we overdrafted players AT THE TIME and possibly could have gotten better value.
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I always appreciate all the work you put into the draft every year. Your posts are one of the true gems that make this place what it is.

That said, I don't know what team you're drafting for...

2. AJ Brown, WR, Mississippi- I don't get all the love for this guy. Slightly bigger than Deebo with less quickness and route running. Could be good with the right team but he's going to get a shock when his dominance fails to transfer to the next level (similar to Jalen Strong or DeVante Parker).
3. Hakeem Butler, WR, Iowa St- Doesn't have the routes or hands that Kyle likes.
4. Amani Hooker, S, Iowa- Our team, and the league in general, is full of robber/box safeties. We need a single-high guy.
5. Trayveon Williams, RB, Texas A&M- Drafting an RB in the 5th who doesn't fit the system and who would be at best 4th string behind Jet, Coleman, and Breida is worse than drafting a punter in the 4th.

6. Te'Von Coney, LB, Notre Dame- ALL LB's in a Cover 3 system have to be fast, cover distance, and be able to cover crossing routes, backs and TE's. He's just not that guy.
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