The San Francisco 49ers entered the 2014 NFL draft with a total of 11 picks. Many 49er writers and analysts expected the 49ers to trade most of those picks. After all, what good would it do to bring in 11 new players if there technically isn’t any room for them? That would be a waste. By the end of the draft on day 3, 49ers General Manager Trent Baalke surprised everyone by adding wide receiver Stevie Johnson from the Buffalo Bills as well as adding a 12th pick in the 2014 Draft.
Oh, and by the way, the 49ers used all 12 picks.
I believe this is a good thing for the 49ers. The 49ers have high hopes for another Super Bowl run, and these draft picks will literally be fighting for the last available roster spots. This will make for an interesting minicamp as well as preseason. Who knows, some of these rookies may end up as starters.
I won’t go in-depth on each player selected in the draft, as 49ers360.com blog writers will also cover these picks in great detail, but here’s the list and how I feel about each pick, with an overall grade.
I will grade the 49ers draft selections as a B- overall. Rounds 1-3 ranked as a B, while rounds 4-7 ranked as a C-. Lots of potential impact players, but no immediate impact players. This draft has ‘long-term projects’ written all over it.
RD1-30- Jimmie Ward, S, Northern Illinois (Grade: B-)
Undersized, but lots of energy. Expect the 49ers to transition Ward from safety to cornerback. Good ball skills, anticipates well but needs to improve in run support and tackling.
RD2-57- Carlos Hyde, RB, Ohio State (Grade: B+)
This was the biggest steal of the draft for the 49ers. If anything Hyde will provide another strong, physical, downhill-style running back that Harbaugh loves. Provides much needed depth at the running back position.
RD3-70- Marcus Martin, C, USC (Grade: B+)
The 49ers may have found a new starting center. Marcus will definitely challenge Daniel Kilgore for the starting job. Marcus was considered one of the top prospects at the center position coming into the draft. His upside is tremendous.
RD3-77- Chris Borland, ILB, Wisconsin (Grade: B-)
Borland may be undersized, but much like Jimmie Ward has lots of energy. He was known as a playmaker at Wisconsin but whether his short arms and smaller frame will make an impact in the NFL is the only thing keeping his grade low.
RD3-100- Brandon Thomas, OL, Clemson (Grade: C-)
Thomas will sit for 2014 having torn his ACL during pre-draft workouts. Thomas can play either offensive tackle position, but what kind of impact he can have is a question mark. He will be a project for the 49ers in 2015.
RD3-106- Bruce Ellington, WR, South Carolina (Grade: C-)
The 49ers needed to draft a wide receiver. I feel they may have waited too long. Ellington is a long shot to make the roster, but his 4.45 40-yard time is the fastest on the current roster. He is a project and his size will be questioned, but in a day and age where football players also play basketball in college, that may come in handy for Ellington, a former 3-year basketball player at SC.
RD4-129- Dontae Johnson, CB, North Carolina State (Grade: C-)
Johnson has good size, but the question is will he be a better cornerback or safety? Johnson has decent speed, not spectacular, but the reports say he is a raw talent, which means he may be an NFL project. The 49ers needed size and depth at corner and may still have to wait for the help to come.
RD5-150- Aaron Lynch, OLB, South Florida (Grade: C+)
Lynch has a tremendous upside, but there have been questions about his character. I personally like the pick, good value late in the draft. Provides some added pass-rushing depth.
RD5-170- Keith Reaser, CB, Florida Atlantic (Grade: D+)
Reaser is coming off an ACL tear and has had a setback from surgery. I’m not a fan of drafting injured players. It just doesn’t make much sense to me. Hopefully Reaser is as big a steal as they say, but for now the 49ers will have to wait, possibly until 2015, for his help.
RD6-180- Kenneth Acker, Southern Methodist Univeristy (Grade: C-)
Acker doesn’t have elite speed but has decent size. He will add some depth to the cornerback position should he make the roster.
RD7-243- Kaleb Ramsey, DT, Boston College (Grade: D)
Ramsey is a good athlete, when he’s not injured. He has physical tools but hasn’t proven he’s durable at the college level.
RD7-245- Trey Millard, FB, Oklahoma (Grade: C-)
The 49ers needed some depth at the fullback position and found a great steal with their 12th and final pick of the draft. Good size and can do it all. Durability and athleticism are the big question marks.