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Why the 49ers are in a good spot to target an offensive lineman in the 2023 NFL Draft

Despite not selecting until the end of the third round, the 49ers are in a good position to select quality linemen.

Kansas State v Oklahoma Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images

While every draft is different and offers varying depth or value at different positions, there are still patterns that stand out about what you can expect on day two of the NFL draft. I pulled some data from the six drafts that have occurred since Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch took over in 2017 that might give us a clearer picture of what is to come going forward.

With three selections in the back end of the third round, the 49ers have the ammunition to move up the board if there is a prospect they are enamored with and don’t want to risk missing out on.

It’s also important to remember the 49ers are due additional compensatory picks in next year's draft as well, which might give them a bit more confidence to send future draft capital in a move to grab a player they really like that's coming out of this class.

To help paint a better picture, I used a slightly larger set of picks on the off chance the 49ers do make an aggressive move. To keep a somewhat realistic range of where the 49ers could trade up with by parting with this and or next year's draft capital, I singled out picks 50-105 from every draft from 2017-2022.

What this points to is the fact that offensive linemen were selected most frequently, with one of the higher hit rates at returning high-end players compared to other positions.

There have 336 selections made between 50-105 over that span, and only 18 of them have been named to a Pro Bowl. Five of those 18 players are offensive linemen. Two of the five have been named to multiple Pro Bowls, including Orlando Brown Jr. who has earned that honor four times in his five NFL seasons.

This highlights a noteworthy level of potential upside in a range of the draft that typically isn’t populated with players who go on to play at a level that would earn those honors.

Despite the appeal of a 10 percent return rate on Pro Bowlers at the position, there is also tremendous value added from the number of players who don’t have the accolade’s but who have become valuable contributors whether they are starting or providing crucial depth for their respective teams.

Based on big boards and pre draft projections, there are a number of appealing options who could potentially be on the board in that 50-105 pick range. If the 49ers made an aggressive move up towards the end of the second round, they could potentially target a player like Mathew Bergeron out of Syracuse or Cody Mauch out of NDSU.

If they aren’t as keen on sacrificing the future capital it would likely require moving up that high, there are some appealing options projected to come off the board closer to where they are scheduled to pick now.

Those names include Oklahoma’s Wanya Morris, Alabama’s Tyler Steen, and Nick Saldiveri out of Old Dominion. A name that has gotten a lot of buzz is Blake Freeland out of BYU, who is precisely the kind of prospect you take a dart throw on in the hopes they develop into that 10 percent of offensive linemen taken in this range who go on to be Pro Bowlers in the NFL.

The 49ers have plenty of options at their disposal, but based on recent history, perhaps it would be wise to prioritize finding an offensive lineman somewhere in this range.