Now that the 2014 NFL Draft has come to a close, it is time for some San Francisco 49ers draft grades. All in all, the 49ers seem to have improved their team while addressing the needs they needed filled in day 3. Let’s take a look at each pick and then the draft as a whole
30: Jimmie Ward, S/Nickelback, Northern Illinois
Ward is a smart pickup who will play extensive minutes in the extremely common 3 cornerback sets while developing into a replacement for Antoine Bethea down the road. A really versatile player who helps anchor a defensive backfield that needed some help.
The Grade: A-. The more I look at Ward, the more I like him.
57: Carlos Hyde, RB, Ohio State
Though this did not make a lot of sense with the 49ers’ needs, after trading down (and then up, so basically trading down a pick) and losing out on Cody Latimer, the 49ers picked up a power running back that will be an excellent replacement for Frank Gore. Hyde, Marcus Lattimore, and Kendall Hunter, along with LaMichael James, should he stick around, will be one excellent backfield. Expect Gore and James to leave soon, but still, that’s one impressive backfield.
The Grade: B-. Would be an “A” for value, but the 49ers have so many running backs. . .
70: Marcus Martin, C, USC
The last man left in the green room at Radio City Music Hall, the 49ers got a steal after trading back nine spots. Martin is a guy who could potentially start day one, but will by no means have to. Perhaps the 49ers are not as sold on Daniel Kilgore as we thought, or, more likely, they are preparing for life without Mike Iupati.
The grade: A, for value and long-term need.
77: Chris Borland, LB, Wisconsin
Though not the tallest guy in the world (roughly 5-10), Borland has a heart of iron and plays with an intensity Jim Harbaugh no doubt loves. He was a steal at this point in the draft and will be an excellent special teams player, Navarro Bowman replacement for half a year, and spell linebacker at multiple positions.
The Grade: A. Again, a great value pick who will help immediately with Bowman out and will settle into a great long-term special teamer and depth linebacker.
100: Brandon Thomas, OT, Clemson
After a ton of trades, the 49ers ended up with one less pick today than they had entering it. With their last pick the 49ers chose a Clemson player, just not the playmaking wide receiver Niner Noise has been plugging for awhile. Martavis Bryant is still available, however, and the 49ers should definitely look closely at him in the early fourth round. As for Thomas, another great value pick. If it were not for an injury that will keep him out at least a good chunk of the season, Thomas would have gone much, much higher. The 49ers could easily redshirt him a year. (Sound familiar?)
The Grade: A+. A first or second round talent who will be “redshirted” for injury. Great long-term planning.
106: Bruce Ellington, WR, South Carolina
Even though I have been raving about Martavis Bryant, Ellington fits the 49ers’ needs much better. He is quick, fast, and will be great in the slot. He also started at point guard for the Gamecocks, and his athleticism should definitely show up in the NFL.
The Grade: A+, especially after the Stevie Johnson trade.
129: Dontae Johnson, CB, N.C. State
A third straight pick from the Carolinas, Johnson finally addresses the cornerback issue. Great size (6-2, 200) and great potential.
The Grade: A. Addresses a need and has lots of upside.
150: Aaron Lynch, DE, South Florida
Another position that could use some depth, with the aging defensive line. An absolute steal! Lynch fell for character concerns (he had to transfer from Notre Dame) but it looks like the 49ers did a ton of research on Lynch before picking him up.
The Grade: A+. Big time steal.
170: Keith Reaser, CB, Florida Atlantic
Another injury stockpile pick. He will start on the PUP list. Reaser is incredibly fast and could latch on next season.
The Grade: A-. Will not help this year, but that is what the other corners are for. Baalke keeps drafting for the future.
180: Kenneth Acker, CB, SMU
The last cornerback taken in this draft by the 49ers. He is a solid talent with a stronger pro day and could latch on without surprising anyone.
The Grade: B+. It addresses the 49ers’ biggest need. The more picks here, the better chance one will be good.
243: Kaleb Ramsey, DE, Boston College
A really, really good player that has not been able to stay healthy.
The Grade: B. If he can stay healthy, he is a great addition.
245: Trey Millard, FB, Oklahoma
Millard fits the 49ers’ big back mold perfectly. He should get a lot of special teams time. It will be interesting to see if he replaces Bruce Miller at any point.
The 49ers draft overall gets a solid A. After surprising in the first day and a half, when the dust settled, this draft looks to be, on paper, an extremely impressive one. Holes were filled, talent was chosen, and the 49ers continue to set themselves up for a great now and a hopefully better future.