The 49ers have had their share of misses in the NFL Draft, but they’d be at risk of these five prospects going bust if selected in 2022.
Let’s face the fact here: Roughly half of NFL Draft prospects selected in Round 1 won’t come anywhere close to meeting their desired expectations. And as far as busts and flameouts go, the chances for success diminish significantly in each subsequent round.
Sure, teams like the San Francisco 49ers have hit on hidden-game players in the latter rounds, such as All-Pro tight end George Kittle (Round 5) or 2021 rookie running back sensation Elijah Mitchell (Round 6). But that’s offset by far more players in the mold of running back Joe Williams (Round 4), defensive tackle Kentavius Street (Round 4) or, even getting into Round 1, top prospects like defensive end Solomon Thomas, taken at No. 3 overall back in 2017.
Here’s another thing: It’s easy to talk about how “great” any given prospect can be at the pro level. We all do it and get excited about each prospect selected, hoping they’ll turn into the next Kittle or Mitchell.
Perhaps we should focus a bit more attention on the reasons why prospects easily fail once going pro.
And, as is the case with these five prospects for the 2022 NFL Draft, the chances of them going bust if the Niners draft them is just a little bit higher.
49ers bust risk No. 5: WR Chris Olave, Ohio State
San Francisco could use some receiving help in this year’s NFL Draft, and Ohio State wideout Chris Olave is surely worth a look if he somehow falls into Round 2 where the 49ers are poised to select with the next-to-last pick in the round.
On the surface, the 6-foot-0, 187-pound Olave has everything desired for a top-flight wide receiver prospect: production at a big-school program, speed (a 4.39 40-yard time at the NFL Combine), the ability to make highlight-reel plays and so on.
|*2018||Ohio State||Big Ten||FR||WR||7||12||197||16.4||3||0||0||0||12||197||16.4||3|
|*2019||Ohio State||Big Ten||SO||WR||13||48||840||17.5||12||2||5||2.5||0||50||845||16.9||12|
|*2020||Ohio State||Big Ten||JR||WR||7||50||729||14.6||7||1||0||0.0||0||51||729||14.3||7|
|*2021||Ohio State||Big Ten||SR||WR||11||65||936||14.4||13||0||0||0||65||936||14.4||13|
Provided by CFB at Sports Reference
But Olave’s efforts are a bit misleading. His route-running skills are far from refined, and there’s a notable lack of interest when the play isn’t involving him.
Beyond that, he’s also not going to pick up the valued “YAC,” upon which the Niners’ pass game is so predicated.
Olave could end up being a great receiver. However, he also carries an awfully high risk of never coming close to living up to his potential, perhaps as a merely OK tertiary wideout on a decent offense.