The San Francisco 49ers wrapped up the 2017 NFL draft with 10 rookies, and grades have generally been pretty positive. It will be a few years before we really know how this class has panned out, but there is plenty to assess in the meantime.
ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. released his annual team-by-team grades, and he gave the 49ers an A-. In determining his grades, he looks 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?
The third question was easily answered with how the 49ers traded up and down the board all three days. Their best move was moving down one spot to get a guy they were targeting at No. 2, and pick up a third and fourth, as well as a 2018 third. The 49ers turned the 2017 third into a move up for Reuben Foster, and generally did strong work maneuvering around the board.the 49ers
In terms of overall talent and personnel voids, the 49ers added a lot of potential impact players. DE Solomon Thomas, LB Reuben Foster, and CB Ahkello Witherspoon could all be starters as soon as this year. RB Joe Williams will likely get a big opportunity behind Carlos Hyde. George Kittle joins a tight end depth chart that has a lot of players, but a lot of questions. And Trent Taylor could very well be the punt returner sooner rather than later. Suffice to say, they added a lot of talent that can make an impact sooner rather than later.
Here’s what Kiper had to say about the 49ers draft.
John Lynch went straight from the booth to a general manager role, but didn't look like a rookie GM in his first draft. On the first night, he made two smart trades and added two prospects (Solomon Thomas and Reuben Foster) I ranked in my top eight overall. To move down one spot from No. 2 to No. 3 with the Bears, the Niners got pick Nos. 67 and 111 this year and a third-round pick in 2018. That's a heist. The added draft value allowed them easy passage to slide up for Foster. Even if you didn't love these players, you'd have to say bravo to the maneuvering.
Elsewhere, the 49ers were able to target clear needs at cornerback with Ahkello Witherspoon in Round 3, and at running back with Joe Williams in Round 4. George Kittle is the best fullback/tight end hybrid in the draft. D.J. Jones and Pita Taumoepenu are useful D-line depth pieces and Trent Taylor could help at receiver.
If there's a puzzler here, it's the use of a third-rounder on C.J. Beathard, a guy I had rated well behind a few other QBs available at the time. The divide on Beathard is whether you see physical tools that translate to a potential starter. I'm not quite in that camp.
Overall, the 49ers did well to not just settle for picking good players and make a play for adding a second elite player. Reuben Foster carries some risk, but at No. 31? Bring it on. This is a good start to the Lynch era.
Here’s the 49ers complete draft class.
1 (3). Solomon Thomas, DL, Stanford
1 (31). Reuben Foster, LB, Alabama
3 (2). Ahkello Witherspoon, CB, Colorado
3 (40). C.J. Beathard, QB, Iowa
4 (15). Joe Williams, RB, Utah
5 (2). George Kittle, TE, Iowa
5 (34). Trent Taylor, WR, Louisiana Tech
6 (14). D.J. Jones, DT, Ole Miss
6 (18). Pita Taumoepenu, LB, Utah
7 (11). Adrian Colbert, CB, Miami