The San Francisco 49ers enter training camp in two weeks with 11 players in their 2016 draft class, not including undrafted free agents. Each player enters camp with different expectations, and odds are pretty good expectations will have changed for some of them by the end of training camp.
With that in mind, I thought it would be fun to take a look at the best and worst case expectations for each player (players and links listed at the bottom). We’ll also try and come up with “realistic expectations,” but those extremes of best and worst will give us a framework heading into training camp. I want best and worst to be somewhat measured in realism, so we won’t have “gets cut” as the worst case scenario for every player. The same holds true for pie in the sky optimism.
Today, we’ll look at wide receiver Aaron Burbridge. The 49ers selected the Michigan State product in the sixth round with their final comp pick pick. Torrey Smith will be one of the starting wide receivers, leaving a whole mess of receivers competing for work on the other side and in the expanded packages. That group includes Quinton Patton, Bruce Ellington, Jerome Simpson, Eric Rogers, DeAndre Smelter, DeAndrew White, Dres Anderson, DiAndre Campbell, Devon Cajuste, and Bryce Treggs.
Best case scenario
Burbridge is kind of a tough one to project in the 49ers offense. The wide receivers in general are tough to figure out given how inexperienced much of the group is, and the questions surrounding the quarterback position. One could argue that the wide receivers are sufficiently inexperienced that he could very well claim a starting role. A more realistic best case scenario is that he ends up as the team’s primary slot receiver. He did not play slot much in college, but he said the coaching staff discussed the slot with him fairly frequently. Maybe he does enough to claim a significant role in the slot.
Worst case scenario
A truly worst case is that the sixth round pick is cut at the end of training camp. The 49ers have enough questions that I would be a little bit surprised if he was cut, but he certainly wouldn’t be the first sixth round pick to get cut before stepping on the field. If we want to potentially get a little more realistic, a worst case would involve him making the team and spending much of the season inactive, similar to DeAndrew White last season.
The more realistic option is that he makes the team, and is active for more than half the team’s games. I would expect him to get a good amount of special teams work during this time, but his stats will be far from overwhelming. I could see him being the fourth or fifth receiver. In Chip Kelly’s offense he might be able to put up some numbers, but they’d be on the low end for the receivers.
1 (7). DeForest Buckner, DT, Oregon (best case/worst case)
1 (28). Joshua Garnett, OG, Stanford (best case/worst case)
3 (5). Will Redmond, CB, Mississippi State (best case/worst case)
4 (35). Rashard Robinson, CB, LSU (best case/worst case)
5 (3). Ronald Blair, DE, Appalachian State (best case/worst case)
5 (6). John Theus, OT, Georgia (best case/worst case)
5 (35). Fahn Cooper, OT, Ole Miss
6 (32). Jeff Driskel, QB, Louisiana Tech (best case/worst case)
6 (36). Kelvin Taylor, RB, Florida (best case/worst case)
6 (38). Aaron Burbridge, WR, Michigan State (best case/worst case)
7 (28). Prince Charles Iworah, CB, Western Kentucky