The San Francisco 49ers 2015 draft class has one season under its belt, which means we at least have some data with which to analyze the group. Draft grades are produced immediately after the draft, and for higher picks, immediately after the pick has been announced. We need a few years to really get a full handle on a lot of draft picks, but a year out is certainly better than nothing.
NFL Network analyst Bucky Brooks recently put together a rundown of his grades for the 32 classes from the 2015 NFL Draft. He sorted it by division, and the 49ers came in fourth in the NFC West. He gave the Los Angeles Rams an A-, the Arizona Cardinals and Seattle Seahawks a B+, and the 49ers a C+. Here is the 49ers full draft class from last year:
1 (17). Arik Armstead, DL, Oregon
2 (14). Jaquiski Tartt, S, Samford
3 (15). Eli Harold, OLB, Virginia
4 (18). Blake Bell, TE, Oklahoma
4 (27). Mike Davis, RB, South Carolina
4 (33). DeAndre Smelter, WR, Georgia Tech
5 (29). Bradley Pinion, P, Clemson
6 (14). Ian Silberman, OL, Boston College
7 (27). Trenton Brown, OL, Florida
7 (37). Rory Anderson, TE, South Carolina
Here is what Brooks had to say about the 49ers draft class:
The rapid decline of the 49ers has been staggering. The team just has lost too much talent -- in addition to an exceptional head coach -- to compete in one of the toughest divisions in football. The Niners saw a ton of veteran leadership walk out the door prior to last season (see: Patrick Willis, Justin Smith and Frank Gore), and San Francisco didn't get enough help from its rookie class to make up the difference. (An impossible task, really.) Still, there are some things to be excited about going forward. Arik Armstead made tremendous strides as a rookie despite only logging one start. He could grow into a solid plugger along the interior. Jaquiski Tartt made contributions on the second level as a designated thumper between the hashes. The 49ers should be encouraged by the flashes displayed by Mike Davis and Blake Bell in spot duty -- the young offensive playmakers should contribute as rotational guys going forward.
This draft class is off to a significantly better start than the dreadful 2012 class, although that is one of the lowest bars ever.
The 2013 class had an immediate starter in Eric Reid, and got some first year contributions from Vance McDonald and Corey Lemonier. Nick Moody spent time on short term injured reserve, but got four games in, Quinton Dial made it on the field late in the season, and Quinton Patton made some small contributions.. I would say the 2015 class is off to a better start top to bottom through year one in that regard.
The 2014 class had a bit more of an impact. Jimmie Ward played in eight games before an injury ended his season, and he was coming around after the brutal Brandon Marshall game. Carlos Hyde got some moderately consistent work behind Frank Gore. Marcus Martin started eight games at center, albeit due to Daniel Kilgore's injury. Bruce Ellington got work as a punt and kick returner. Aaron Lynch was the big find in the fifth round, managing six sacks as he developed through a rotational role into a prominent member of the pass rush. Through one year, I'd say the 49ers got more out of their 2014 class than their 2015 class.