The San Francisco 49ers fired general manager Trent Baalke this offseason following a run of drafts that featured some successes, but had way too many misses. The team tried to get cute with numerous injured players, they tried to move players into positions that just did not fit, and there have just been plain whiffs.
We know about the 49ers infamous strike out on the 2012 draft, but what about other drafts? A writer at our Bills blog, Buffalo Rumblings, put together this table of data showing how each team has done in terms of draft pick retention, dating back to the 2011 NFL draft.
Draft pick retention by NFL teams, 2011-16 pic.twitter.com/HeO5ueAFPB— Jeff Hunter (@MrJeffHunter) May 24, 2017
The 49ers rank last in players still on the roster from last year’s draft. The 49ers drafted 11 players, and lost three over the course the past year. They cut Jeff Driskel and saw him claimed off waivers. They cut Fahn Cooper and Kelvin Taylor, subsequently signing them to the practice squad. Taylor was released from the squad in November, and Cooper departed as a free agent this offseason.
That 2012 draft was a quick miss, and the 49ers are now one of 12 teams with nobody left on their roster from that draft. The Cleveland Browns and Jacksonville Jaguars lead the way with nobody on their roster from three drafts, with both clearing out the 2011, 2012, and 2013 draft classes.
The most recent strikeout is the New Orleans Saints, having parted ways with their entire 2014 draft class. The 2013 class has eight teams without a player left. It is interesting to note that 2013 is one of the few notable successes for Trent Baalke, using this metric. The 49ers have four of their 11 players still on the roster. That 36.4 percent of the draft class is fifth. I imagine a sizable chunk of that will be gone when free agency hits next year.
Draft retention is certainly not the best measurement of a quality draft class. The 49ers have a good chunk of their 2013 class still around, but few people are going to get too excited about Vance McDonald and Tank Carradine. They can make contributions in certain roles, but they’re not long-term cogs. Plenty of teams retain mediocre players for one reason or another, and given how bad the 49ers have been the past two years, there’s not a lot to be said about some of the players they retained.