John Lynch’s first NFL draft in 2017, spotlighted by Peter King, had more action than most drafts typically have. Lynch made six trades, including a dramatic push for the sliding Reuben Foster. This year, the San Francisco 49ers draft was almost the complete opposite. There was far less drama, and no Peter King embedded in the draft room. Lynch only made two trades, which are as follows:
The 49ers traded a second-round (59 overall) and a third-round pick (74 overall) to the Washington Redskins, in exchange for a second-round pick (44 overall) and a fifth-round pick (142 overall)
Of course, several previous trades impacted the 49ers in this draft. The 49ers lacked their own second-round pick because they traded it for Jimmy Garoppolo. Despite this, they were armed with several additional high picks. They possessed the New Orleans Saints second-round pick, and the Chicago Bears third-round pick, both acquired via draft day trades last year. With nine total selections, the 49ers came away with quite the haul.
First Round, 9th Overall: Mike McGlinchey, Tackle, Notre Dame
Second Round, 44th Overall: Dante Pettis, Wide Receiver, Washington
Third Round, 70th Overall: Fred Warner, Linebacker, Brigham Young
Third Round, 95th Overall: Tarvarius Moore, Safety, Southern Mississippi
Fourth Round, 128th Overall: Kentavius Street, Defensive Line, North Carolina State
Fifth Round, 142nd Overall: D.J. Reed, Cornerback, Kansas State
Sixth Round, 184th Overall: Marcell Harris, Safety, Florida
Seventh Round, 223rd Overall: Jullian Taylor, Defensive Tackle, Temple
Seventh Round, 240th Overall: Richie James, Wide Receiver, Middle Tennessee State
49ers 2018 Draft Grade: 7.8/10, C+
San Francisco 49ers 2018 NFL Draft Review
The Best Player: Dante Pettis
Since Kyle Shanahan became an offensive coordinator in 2008, his team has not selected a wide receiver earlier than the fourth round until the 49ers selection of Pettis. That alone should speak volumes as to Pettis’ talent. He is an absolute monster in the punt return game, holding the FBS record for most career punt returns with nine.
As a receiver, he has a very diverse skill set. It is unclear how fast he is, as he never ran a timed 40-yard dash, but he plays fast. His route-running is precise, and he has sure hands. Pettis will become an incredibly versatile weapon in Shanahan’s offense, lining up both outside and in the slot.
The Head-Scratcher: Drafting No Edge Rushers
Coming into the draft, the 49ers biggest need was arguably pass rusher. The 49ers finished tied for 26th in sacks last year. Getting a true edge rusher to fill the LEO position seemed like the main ingredient to shape this 49ers defense. Instead, they punted on the position. In fairness to the 49ers, this draft class was viewed as incredibly weak for pass rushers. However, it is very questionable that they didn’t add at least one edge rusher at some point in the draft.
The Surprise: Mike McGlinchey
Before the start of the draft, the 49ers offensive line appeared set, especially at tackle. Stalwart Joe Staley would man his usual left tackle position, and Trent Brown would be the right tackle. Then, with the ninth overall pick, the 49ers selected McGlinchey. This caused a great deal of confusion. Was he going to shift to guard, develop on the bench as a backup, or usurp Staley or Brown?
The answer to that came the next morning, when the 49ers shipped Trent Brown out of town. The plan now appears to have McGlinchey start at right tackle, and eventually replace Staley at left tackle when he retires. Most mock drafts had some sort of defensive player mocked to the 49ers, as the tackle situation appeared finalized. Surprisingly, it was not.
The Steal: Jimmy Garoppolo
Five quarterbacks were taken in the first round of the 2018 NFL draft. Of those five, four warranted the selecting team packaging several picks to move up for their quarterback. The cost of a potential franchise quarterback is expensive. For the 49ers, it wasn’t.
On October 30th, the 49ers spent their second-round pick on Jimmy Garoppolo. Under Garoppolo, the 49ers were undefeated, finishing the season with five straight wins. Confident in his ability, the 49ers made Garoppolo the highest paid player in the history of the NFL at that time with a $137.5 million deal. While teams are spending a large amount of draft capital to find a quarterback, the 49ers were able to steal theirs for only a second-round pick.
Most Likely to Turn Heads in Training Camp: Tarvarius Moore
Every year, players shoot up draft boards after stellar workouts at the NFL combine. Lucky for the 49ers, Moore was not invited to the combine. Had he been invited, Moore could’ve generated an insane amount of buzz, and might not have been available in the late third round.
Moore is everything the 49ers covet in a defensive back. He has tall, fast, and has long arms. He played primarily at safety in college, but will be given a shot to play cornerback. His raw athleticism alone will be something to watch in training camp, regardless of where he lines up.
With their remaining picks, the 49ers added mostly intriguing defensive players. Fred Warner is perhaps the most intriguing. Defensive coordinator Robert Saleh is quoted as saying “the evolution of the running back and tight end has far outpaced the evolution of the linebacker.” Warner gives the 49ers an athletic linebacker capable of sticking with running backs and tight ends in coverage.
Kentavius Street was one of four North Carolina State defensive linemen taken in the 2018 NFL draft. He tore his ACL in a pre-draft workout, so he will be given a redshirt year common under former 49ers general manager Trent Baalke. When he’s healthy, he will give the 49ers depth at the big end positon.
D.J. Reed will challenge K’Waun Williams for the nickel corner position. Reed is only 5’9” and lacks the size the 49ers covet as an outside corner. Despite his lack of size, he doesn’t lack for confidence, claiming he’s not simply a nickel corner, but a “lock-down corner first and foremost.”
The 49ers added another player coming off a severe injury with their selection of Marcell Harris. Harris missed the entirety of the 2017 season due to tearing his Achilles. When he is healthy, he will give the 49ers a box safety in the mold of Jaquiski Tartt.
More depth along the defensive line was added when the 49ers selected Jullian Taylor. Taylor is an incredibly athletic defensive tackle. He is injury prone, missing significant portions of the 2015 and 2016 seasons.
The last 49er selected was Richie James. James provides wide receiver depth as a slot receiver. He is a bit undersized, but is shifty. He is still raw, and will need time to develop, probably on the practice squad.
The Last Word
The common theme for this 49ers draft was athleticism. Warner, Moore, and Taylor all graded in the top ten at their respective positions in terms of SPARQ, which measures player athleticism. In this draft, the 49ers failed to address the edge position, but obtained several defensive players capable of anchoring the team for years to come. They also protected their investment in Garoppolo by giving him the best tackle in the draft, and a playmaker at wide receiver. Overall, this draft appears to be a step in the right direction towards a sixth Lombardi Trophy.
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