San Francisco 49ers general manager John Lynch met with the media on Monday, and while he shockingly did not reveal who the 49ers will pick with the second overall pick, he did offer some other nuggets.
Among the most notable was about the team’s draft board, and how they put it together. According to Lynch, the team has just under 200 players on their board that they consider “draftable.” There are 253 draft picks in the 2017 NFL draft, followed by the flurry of undrafted free agency. The 49ers final pick comes at 219, acquired from the Cleveland Browns in the Andy Lee trade. I highly doubt all 200 players are gone when 219 arrives, but if it is, maybe they can draft one of us.
What was also interesting was that the team changed their grading system recently. Lynch talked about the value of having guys like Adam Peters and Martin Mayhew joining the front office. The 49ers had a group of scouts that carried over from Trent Baalke to John Lynch. The team could change them over after the draft, but given all the work they had put in over the previous year, it made sense to keep them.
At one point, Lynch was asked how the scouting system work with Peters and whether or not they merged anything from what Trent Baalke and his team had done. Lynch offered this response:
“Yeah, so when we first brought scouts in right after the Super Bowl we were kind of working off the old grading system. But, what helped was the grading system that they use in Denver, which kind of derived from one that was developed in New England, was also one that Kyle was familiar with in Atlanta because [Atlanta Falcons general manager] Thomas Dimitroff had been in New England. So, it was a natural fit to move to that. So, in these last three weeks of draft meetings we moved over to that grading scale. That’s the answer there. That always helps that there’s, but I think also, having some different backgrounds has been, I feel, I’ve always been someone who thinks you should listen to multiple opinions and we’ve been very collaborative. I believe in strong opinions. Someone once told me, ‘strong opinions, weakly held.’ So, are you open to different thoughts and someone makes you think, but ultimately someone’s got to make decisions.”
Changing the grading system on the fly seems like it would create extra work, but I also wonder if it allowed scouts to re-think some of their assessments in this new light. Maybe nothing changed, but having a chance to think even deeper about a prospect seems like it could be valuable.