Breaking Down 49ers’ Top NFL Draft Needs by Value
What about the other positions the 49ers need? The interior line, or an inside linebacker?
While you can make strong arguments for center, guard or inside linebacker being bigger needs than an edge rusher or cornerback, they also have fewer top talents available this year—in all cases, the majority of their talent falls after the second round of the draft.
At center, the average player is Oregon State’s Isaac Seumalo; he’s rated 111th overall by ESPN. The median player is USC’s Max Tuerk, rated 132nd. It’s a position the 49ers could maybe justify targeting with their fourth-round selection, otherwise, they’ll likely have to wait until their last few picks.
The 49ers are still looking for a replacement for Patrick Willis, and there is talent in this year’s draft, but it’s difficult to justify picking a Reggie Ragland over the team’s other needs. The average player is more along the lines of B.J. Goodson from Clemson; he’s rated a nice round 100th overall. Stanford’s Blake Martinez is the median player, and ESPN has him down at 152. It’s a good draft to get depth, but not someone you’re expecting to step into the lineup right away.
As for guard, it’s a good thing the 49ers signed Zack Beadles and are interested in Amini Silatolu, because this is not a good draft for guards by any stretch of the imagination. If you miss out on Stanford’s Joshua Garnett, be prepared to wait until day three for any real action. The average player is Missouri’s Connor McGovern, rated 110th overall, and the median player, Cincnnatti’s Parker Ehinger, comes in at 144th. ESPN only has 13 guards even listed as draftable; there’s only a dozen or so inside linemen I’d consider in the entire draft if I was Trent Baalke.
Putting it all together, if I were to use San Francisco’s first eight draft picks on these eight positions, and make my selections according to where I could find the most value and the relative need of the position, my draft would end up being:
- Round 1: A quarterback (i.e. California’s Jared Goff), as it’s the position of greatest need.
- Round 2: A wide receiver (i.e Ohio State’s Michael Thomas), as if you don’t draft one early, there’s not a lot of depth this year.
- Round 3: An edge player (i.e. Georgia’s Jordan Jenkins), as the draft is filled with quality day two defenders.
- Round 4: An offensive tackle (i.e. Texas Tech’s LeRaven Clark), as it’s the last chance to draft someone with a reasonable chance of winning the starting job
- Round 4, Compensatory: A cornerback (i.e. Southeast Louisiana’s Harlan Miller), because there’s too much depth in the draft here to pass up.
- Round 5, from San Diego: An inside linebacker (i.e. Temple’s Tyler Matakevich), as it’s the biggest position of need remaining.
- Round 5: A center (i.e. Missouri’s Evan Boehm), because the interior of the line still needs shaping.
- Round 5, Compensatory: A guard (i.e. Western Michigan’s Willie Beavers), as it’s all that’s left.
Next: How Chip Kelly's Scheme Affects the 49ers Draft
More from Niner Noise
- 49ers 2023 NFL Draft tracker: Pick-by-pick news and analysis
- Predicting 49ers NFL Draft picks by looking at final mocks
- DraftKings NFL Draft Promo – Win $150 Guaranteed on Any $5 Bet
- 2023 NFL Draft: EDGE Byron Young could be impact player for 49ers
- 5 low-key NFL Draft options for 49ers who are flying under the radar
Of course, the Los Angeles Rams had to go and change the first round dramatically. Keep your fingers crosses for an unlikely, but more reasonable now, chance of Laremy Tunsil falling to the 49ers and the seventh pick.