We’re only one year removed from the 2018 NFL draft, and yet there’s so many positives found in that one year. The typical amount of time to judge if a draft was a success is in the ballpark of three-five years, but in one year the 49ers have had several starters emerge and play at a high level.
ESPN’s Mel Kiper took a look at every NFL team’s draft from 2018 and re-graded them where appropriate. He gave the 49ers a B- in 2018 and bumped his grade up to a B. So...progress?
Post-draft grade: B-
GM John Lynch clearly had a plan going into the 2018 draft, hoping to make things easier on quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo with the team’s early picks. That started with the trade of Trent Brown to the Patriots, which opened a big hole at right tackle. New England got one great year of Brown -- who switched to the left side -- but San Francisco might have gotten a long-term win with Mike McGlinchey, who played 99.7 percent of the snaps at right tackle and is on a much smaller deal than Brown just got in free agency. Don’t be surprised if McGlinchey replaces Joe Staley on the left side soon.
The Niners’ season clearly didn’t go as planned after Garoppolo got injured, but second-round pick Dante Pettis was a bright spot, as he averaged 17.3 yards per catch with five touchdowns. He’ll be a big part of their attempt to bounce back in 2019. Linebacker Fred Warner played a much bigger immediate role because of Reuben Foster’s injury and then release, finishing with 123 tackles. His 1,011 snaps played were second-most for a rookie defender, behind only Darius Leonard in Indianapolis. That’s a lot of impact from two Day 2 players.
Seventh-round pick Richie James became the team’s primary kick returner and had a touchdown. Defensive backs D.J. Reed and Marcell Harris chipped in for a struggling defense. Overall, though, this was a nice second draft for Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan. If Garoppolo is healthy in 2019, the Niners will be much improved.
New grade: B
Like we said: it’s going to take a few more years to really see where the 2018 draft class stands as far as solid production, but the first year was definitely something. It more than made up for the rocky start the 2017 draft class had. Yes, 2017 got George Kittle, but it also had Reuben Foster and Solomon Thomas, the earlier is already on his second team thanks to legal issues and the latter has been disappointing thus far.
The one thing Kiper brings up is McGlinchey replacing Staley. In college, McGlinchey struggled at left tackle. I’m of the notion if it ain't broke, don’t fix it, but wouldn’t be surprised if the 49ers tried a flip/flop of the two in the preseason just to see how McGlinchey looks.
Do you think this draft deserves a better, worse, or the same grade?