The always amusing exercise of draft grades are well underway following the wrap of the 2015 NFL Draft. James Brady took a look at some early draft grades Sunday morning. The grades included C, C+ and a pair of B- grades. I'm sure we could find some lower, but that is just a start.
ESPN's Mel Kiper has generally been a fan of Trent Baalke's draft work the last four years. He does not give him A+ grades on everything, but generally he has viewed Baalke's work as solid (even giving them an A- for needs and A for value last year). This year, that is a little different, and Kiper acknowledged as much. In his 2015 NFL Draft grades, Kiper gave the San Francisco 49ers a C+.
In assessing each team, he looked at three things:
1) How much overall talent did a team add, based on board position?
2) How effectively did they address key personnel voids?
3)How efficient were they in maneuvering on the draft board?
Here is what he had to say about the 49ers draft haul:
This one wasn't bad by any measures, but there's a lot of projection here, and I'm concerned they didn't do enough at a couple need positions. Arik Armstead is the definition of potential over polish, as he has all the physical talent and size you want, but he really needs to go to school (Justin Smith should open an academy just for Armstead) if he wants to become great. Jaquiski Tartt will come downhill and is something of a hybrid, a guy who can cover but won't weaken you against the run. Eli Harold is also a lot of projection because he has shot-out-of-a-cannon explosiveness but isn't yet a complete player. They hit a home run last year with Aaron Lynch, and Harold has the chance to be a disruptor too. If he stayed in school for another year, we could've been talking about him as a first-rounder in 2016. Blake Bell is another projection play, as he's starting to figure tight end out -- he's also an interesting guy to have, depending what the 2-point conversion rules gives us. DeAndre Smelter is a scratch-off ticket with million-dollar upside. If there's a theme here, it's that you really need to believe in your ability to coach these guys up. The other thing I wonder about is the lack of a true inside linebacker or cornerback. I'm fascinated to see what this class becomes because it's short on guarantees.
This sums up a lot of what 49ers fans feel about the draft class. While all draft classes are dealing with potential to some extent, the 49ers seemed to push a bit more on it than many teams. That does not mean they won't hit on the potential, but they are basing it more on raw potential than on what past production might indicate. Of course, past production is no guarantee of future returns, and there will be plenty of other busts from this draft class. But with the 49ers, it does feel like a bit more projection than many are usually comfortable with. Now we get to wait and see how it all shakes out in the coming years.