Niner Noise takes a look around the league to see what the experts think of the 49ers and their efforts over the three days of the 2022 NFL Draft.
OK, full disclosure: None of us will have any clue how the San Francisco 49ers’ 2022 NFL Draft class, or any other team’s draft class for that matter, will pan out until at least two or three years from now.
No two prospects are alike, and some take much longer to fully develop than others. First-round picks tabbed as future stars turn into busts, while day-three sleepers become superstars.
It just happens that way sometimes.
However, based on what we know, it’s still worth looking at what the experts and draft pundits around the league think of what teams like the Niners did over the three-day period.
To refresh your knowledge, here’s the list of prospects San Francisco brought in via the 2022 NFL Draft:
- Round 2, No. 61 overall: EDGE Drake Jackson, USC
- Round 3, No. 93 overall: RB Tyrion Davis-Price, LSU
- Round 3, No. 105 overall: WR Danny Gray, SMU
- Round 4, No. 134 overall: OL Spencer Burford, UTSA
- Round 5, No. 172 overall: CB Samuel Womack, Toledo
- Round 6, No. 187 overall: OL Nick Zakelj, Fordham
- Round 6, No. 220 overall: DT Kalia Davis, UCF
- Round 6, No. 221 overall: CB Tariq Castro-Fields, Penn State
- Round 7, No. 262 overall: QB Brock Purdy, Iowa State
Nine total players, and rather surprisingly, no trades from general manager John Lynch and Co. despite a notable previous history of doing so.
OK, enough of all that. What are the experts saying about the 49ers’ most recent draft class already?
49ers 2022 NFL Draft grades from around the league
Chad Reuter, NFL.com: Day 1 — C, Day 2 — B, Day 3 — B+
"The Niners did a nice job picking up Jackson in the second round, but whether grabbing Davis-Price and Gray in the third round was good value is a question to be answered over the next couple of seasons.Burford and Zakelj added depth on the offensive line, both able to play inside or outside. I love Womack’s competitiveness; he’ll be a nice slot corner. The quick Davis and cover man Castro-Fields will contribute as rookies and outperform their draft status."
Mel Kiper, ESPN: B-
"Tyrion Davis-Price (93) went a couple rounds earlier than I thought; he’s my 13th-ranked running back, and there were several better backs available before the Day 3 run on them got underway. Wide receiver Danny Gray (105) is lightning after the catch, while Kalia Davis (220) is a physical interior defensive lineman against the run. He’s recovering from an injury, or else he probably would have gone at least a round higher."
"As has typically been the case during the John Lynch era, the 49ers took me on a wild ride over draft weekend. They made some great selections — Drake Jackson in Round 2, Tariq Castro-Fields and Kalia Davis in Round 6 — and some squint-at-my-computer-screen picks like Tyrion Davis-Price and Danny Gray in the third round."
"The San Francisco 49ers could have bolstered their secondary earlier in the draft, but it’s hard to fault them for taking pass-rusher Drake Jackson instead. He might have been selected much higher if not for a late-season injury that ultimately might have no effect on his NFL career.After watching what sixth-round running back Elijah Mitchell did in this offense last year as a rookie, it’s hard to feel good about the Niners spending a third-rounder on Ty Davis-Price."
"Drake Jackson is a phenomenal value at No. 61 overall for San Francisco. He uses his hands really well and has great bend for the position. Even though he’s 6-foot-3, 273 pounds, Jackson is much more of a finesse rusher who lacks any sort of power move. If he develops some counters to his speed rushes, he can be a fantastic pass-rusher for the 49ers.Tyrion Davis-Price is average, and that’s reflected in just how few of PFF’s users like this pick for San Francisco. … We are not fans of this pick for the 49ers."
"With clear needs in the secondary and at guard, the 49ers instead opted to go for a pass rusher with their first pick in USC’s Drake Jackson, who has a ton of potential but needs time to develop in the NFL. That pick may be a luxury since the 49ers also had to take a wide receiver in the third round as insurance against a Deebo Samuel holdout, making this class short on players who could be starters from the jump. Time will tell how this group works out but it doesn’t look promising early."
"The Davis-Price pick stands out as an outlier from what I thought were very good selections that filled a need. I’m not excited by the cornerback picks either, as I didn’t think Womack would be drafted, and I’m not sure if Tariq Castro-Fields has any extra to his game we didn’t see at Penn State, but I don’t hate them either.What I do like was the initial pick of Drake Jackson and the picks to shore up the offensive line. I think Danny Gray is going to be a potent weapon, while I’m intrigued to see how Kalia Davis develops.The running back pick was glaringly unnecessary but I think every other pick was at least OK, which could either fill a need or provide some depth."
The general consensus from each of these perspectives is twofold. For the most part, analysts are pleased with the selection of Jackson, while grabbing Davis-Price seemed like a massive reach for a position that wasn’t truly a glaring need.
Perhaps the Niners know something we don’t here, but the fact there were plenty of promising rushers to be had far, far down the draft order on day three suggests San Francisco gaffed at this one particular spot.
As far as Gray, well, he seems to be up and down in the minds of analysts. Again, that’s not overly surprising either. On one hand, his speed and elusiveness should be fun to watch in head coach Kyle Shanahan’s offense. On the other, the Niners passed up some much bigger needs that should have been addressed much earlier than they actually were.
Ahem, cornerback and the offensive line.
Again, though, no one knows how any of these picks will turn out. Yet if San Francisco winds up turning at least three or four of these prospects into bona fide contributors over the next two years or so, it’ll still be a quality draft class.