We are now a full regular season removed from the 2015 NFL Draft, and while it takes a few years to fully assess a draft, there is always room for quick opinions. Mel Kiper in particular re-grade his drafts a year removed, and then three or four years removed. He published his 2016 re-grading of the 2015 NFL Draft on Thursday, and nothing changed for the San Francisco 49ers.
A year ago, Kiper gave the 49ers a C+ immediately following the draft. He pointed to the emphasis on projection with the 49ers 2015 class. He discussed the upside of all the prospects, and said the theme of the draft was "that you really need to believe in your ability to coach these guys up." He also thought they could have used a true inside linebacker or cornerback.
A year later, his grade remains a C+. Here's what he had to say this time around:
I felt like the 49ers really targeted the ceiling with this class. But I also felt they missed on some areas where they could use help. I wrote then: "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 think Arik Armstead played fairly well given how raw I thought he was coming in, and Jaquiski Tartt also emerged. But it was mostly quiet elsewhere. You hope Eli Harold comes along, and perhaps Blake Bell develops. There's talent here, but it was a rough season and they need to see more from these guys. They did get a punter ...
The upside to injuries this past season is some of the youngsters beyond Bradley Pinion were able to get extensive work. Jaquiski Tartt is the most notable, as he moved into the starting lineup after Antoine Bethea got hurt seven games into the season. Arik Armstead got inconsistent work. Even with injuries on the line, the team took their time rotating him in and out of the lineup. He showed a lot of potential, but he will need to work his way into more playing time in 2016.
Blake Bell got extra work as the season moved on once Vernon Davis was traded. Mike Davis had his season short-circuited due to injury, and will look to improve on a less than stellar season prior to injury. Trenton Brown took some time to get opportunities, but once he did late in the season, he looked like an intriguing tackle prospect.
DeAndre Smelter and Busta Anderson are two names to track heading into the offseason workout program and training camp. Smelter was destined for red-shirt status from draft day, while Anderson may very well have been stashed on IR to protect him from waivers. UDFA Dres Anderson is another guy who ended up on IR who will be in the mix at wide receiver.