The San Francisco 49ers finished up the 2015 NFL Draft with ten selections, and questions about what contributions we can expect from many of them. We have had plenty of debate about what kind of impact we can expect from these players in year one, and NFL.com has provided a little more fodder for debate.
One of the college football writers on NFL.com, Bryan Fischer, put together a list of the top 100 potential impact rookies of 2015. It was topped by a lot of first round picks, but he mixed in a variety of talent deeper in the draft. For the 49ers, he had three players included, but none in the top 70. He listed defensive lineman Arik Armstead at No. 72, tight end Rory Anderson at No. 77, and outside linebacker Eli Harold at No. 96. Here is what he had to say about each player.
Armstead: "He'll be part of the rotation early for a rebuilding team before eventually assuming the starting role and holding down one edge."
Anderson: "Nobody is replacing Vernon Davis, but Anderson can be a nice complement in some two-tight end sets as a mismatch against just about everybody."
Harold: "Eric Mangini will turn him lose to get after the passer when needed despite likely seeing a limited number of snaps early on."
I'm a little surprised by his rankings. I can understand thinking most 49ers players will not be big impact players, but I'm not sure I buy what he's selling with his order. I do think Harold will be one of the impact rookies, but I would probably also include Mike Davis ahead of both Armstead and Anderson. The 49ers running back situation will likely see Carlos Hyde starting, and Reggie Bush getting work in the passing game. But we could see Davis and possibly Hunter get in the mix as well to a sizable degree.
Jaquiski Tartt is interesting because he could get a chance to play a lot on special teams. There has been some chatter about using him as a linebacker in some of their dime packages. Baalke said he was drafted to be a long term safety, so barring injury, he would not make a huge impact in the secondary. But maybe we see a little more of him.
As for Armstead? Part of this will depend on whether or not Justin Smith returns. If Smith does return, Armstead likely does not see a ton of playing time this year. If Smith retires, I still don't think Armstead sees a lot of playing time, but maybe it boosts a bit with one significant body out of the way.
The most interesting non-49ers inclusion had to be Seattle Seahawks wide receiver and return specialist Tyler Lockett at No. 4 overall. Landon Collins was the top non-first round pick at No. 2, but he also was the top pick of the second round, which is practically first round caliber. Lockett was a third round pick, and Fischer is high on him, saying "Meet Russell Wilson's new best friend, a dynamo out of the slot who will create plenty of mismatches and boost the return game instantly." It's safe to say we'll want to keep an eye on Lockett this year.