PFF is currently publishing depth charts for each team with each player being put in a performance category. They're doing the series in alphabetical order so I figured I'd form my own depth chart for the 49ers while waiting. Here is the essential information from PFF, followed by a couple of my own notes:
1. We are not trying to recreate the entire roster and place every undrafted free agent and their comings and goings. The charts will currently include: anyone who played in the NFL last year, 2014 draftees, and players from last year who would likely have played but for injury. As UDFA's clearly move into contention for a roster spot we'll include them, but not before.
2. The grade given is for now - it's not a prediction of future development. While it's primarily based on last year (or their last year of action) it does include more than just a nod to their career. For example, if a corner played well up until 2013 and then stunk, we'll take account of his better years as well. Further, if you notice the occasional difference in grades between this set and our previous projected lineups series, it'll most likely be down to this being primarily my work, checked by Khaled, while the previous series was built through a different process. In many respects I'm keen to show there are differences. No one in PFF believes the overall grades are absolutely definitive and neither should you. For example, how should one weight the relative receiving and blocking skills of a tight end? Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
3. Elite is as advertised. Broadly it's the best 50 players in the NFL but that doesn't mean its two or three from each position group across the board. There may be none or there may be seven or eight. That's just the nature of it; some periods are good for one position, some others. Additionally, remember that our "Top 101 Players" series is based solely on their performance in 2013. These charts, as described above, take more than just last season into account.
4. The grade is for the position specified and doesn't include their usefulness on special teams. So, for example, while we know Justin Bethel of Arizona is currently the best special teams player in football, his grade reflects only his play at cornerback.
5. Players over 30 years old are marked in bold.
I am following their guidelines for the most part. Here's my attempt:
(If someone knows how to make these photos bigger without the blur, please tell me)
- To avoid confusion, I did not duplicate any names despite the fact that they may be backing up multiple positions, i.e. Jimmie Ward starting at slot CB and probably backing up Reid/Bethea.
- The players are graded without context, meaning a backup is not graded against other backups, but against all players at the position.
- There are 56 players on the depth chart. Smith and Bowman will likely begin the season on suspension and the PUP respectively. Assuming nobody else is hurt or suspended, Bykowski would likely be the last cut.
- I'm sure the most disagreement probably will be with the o-line, but outside of Staley, I felt Davis is consistently at that 'high quality' level while Iupati still struggles a lot with pass protection and Boone plays a lot closer to 'average'.
Some Predictions for 2015
I figured I'd share a couple of predictions for some of the young players on the roster and which category they might fall into next year:
Marcus Lattimore: Average- I think he has the upside to be jump into the 'High Quality' category but there's just no way to know about his recovery and playing time
Carlos Hyde: Good- This probably just comes down to playing time. On a team with a lack of RB's, he probably is the front-runner for offensive rookie of the year.
Quinton Patton: Below Average- I think this just comes down to playing time as I think he could jump into the 'Good' category if he weren't stuck behind three WR's who aren't going anywhere.
Bruce Ellington: Not Enough Info- He'll probably be stuck behind Patton, and impact on special teams is not a factor in these grades
Kilgore or Martin: Average- I think either one of these guys will be at least average from Day 1, but it just comes down to who wins the starting job.
Ian Williams: Not Enough Info- Showed promise before the injury against Seattle, but ultimately he's stuck behind Dorsey and up against a position that's used quite sparingly.
Tank Carradine: Good- There's no denying his talent. I'm interested to see how he fits in this defense but there's no doubt in my mind that he will make an impact if healthy.
Chris Borland: Average- I'm assuming he'll start in Bowman's spot while he's out, and I think he's the definition of what an average NFL player looks like. I liked the 49ers selecting him because you know what you're getting despite the limited upside.
Aaron Lynch: Poor- Just can't give this guy the benefit of the doubt with his play at USF.
Dontae Johnson: Not Enough Info- Barring injury, he probably won't play much as he's the 4th or 5th CB
Jimmie Ward: Good- He'll make an impact from Day 1 as the slot CB and in various other ways in their nickel packages. Not something you say much about guys selected in the 30's, but he has elite potential. The size is the only concern.
While the average age of the starters on this team is still quite high, the infusion of young talent is very exciting and has me quite optimistic about the future of this team. While the average age of this team that's weighted for performance isn't going to drop much this year, it's not hard to picture this team getting to where the Seahawks are (age-wise) as younger players start to replace the older ones hopefully without much of a drop-off in performance.
If you have any comments, questions, or disagreements, please share them below. The reason I did this was to share my opinion and get the input of everyone on here.