49’ers 2018 Draft Review

GM JOHN LYNCH finds his team in a somewhat awkward, but optimistic situation right now thanks in great part to the mid-season acquisition of QB/JIMMY GAROPPOLO, whose performance the last month of the season had to exceed their wildest expectations. Now fan expectation is that the rest of the roster should be ready to catch up with Jimmy G. Not so fast my friends! And therein lies Lynch’s dilemma. The team is ascending, but still needs to flush out the roster with more talent. So let’s talk about the 9 Draftees they have added to the mix.

Barring a veteran injury the Pick, at 9, of MIKE McGLINCHEY/OT/Notre Dame has a near future payoff look to it. Big Mike is not flashy, but he’s a big, long tackle who will get his chance to earn a starting job over at RT for now. He’s the eventually replacement for JOE STALEY, who the team is hoping has a couple more seasons left in him. Mike is long at 6’8/309 and has 34″ arms and 10″ hands. He is adept at both run blocking and pass pro coming out of Notre Dame’s offense. It would be good if he could add another 10 lbs. of muscle to his frame. Right now he has more finesse than power to his game. The two-time Captain is a good football player, but may have a somewhat limited ceiling. Pro Bowls may NOT be in his future, but it won’t be from lack of effort or want-to. With the trade of TRENT BROWN, who started at RT most of last season, they are certainly hoping he can win that RT job in 2018.

In Round 2, Pick 44 the team got themselves some serious help from a playmaking receiver and a home run threat in the return game by the name of DANTE PETTIS/Washington. If he can stay reasonably healthy I see him becoming their Steph Curry in pads. At just under 6’1, and 186 lbs. you fear he may be subject to nagging injuries, but with great quickness, and decent speed (4.47/40) he’s a TD waiting to happen whenever he touches the ball. He has nice large hands for his size (9 1/2″) and even more impressive arm length (32 1/2″). Throw in a 36″ vertical and you can see why he is going to win most jump-ball throws from his QB. His dad GARY was a fleet OF in MLB. PETTIS average 20.4y/return on Punts last season, including 4 TD. He holds the NCAA record of 9 career Punt Returns for TD. This man is instant offense and will loosen a lot of coverage upfield for his teammates. Excellent addition for Jimmy G.

Starting in Round 3, LYNCH flipped the switch and took the first of 6 straight picks for his Defense. At Pick 70 he took the athletic, and versatile LB FRED WARNER/BYU. WARNER can play inside or outside and has the talent to stay out on the field for every down. Last season he led the Cougars with 87 tackles, which included 9 TFL. He also had 5 PBU and 1 INT dropping into coverage. He has solid, though not elite speed, as verified by a 4.65/40 at the Combine. He was a participant at the Senior Bowl and did everything well there, flashing at times. He was a 3-year starter so he brings experience with him. Is most effective out in space where his overall athleticism and high FBI come into play. Also handled coverage unit Special Teams play in college. This is a solid all-around player who will fill multiple roles for DC ROBERT SALEH.

Also in Round 3, at Pick 95 the team tabbed one of the fastest risers in this Draft class by the name of TARVARIUS MOORE/S/Southern Miss, who blew the barn doors off at his college’s Pro Day. He ran a ridiculous (and a bit dubious) 4.32/40-time and looked very athletic in every drill he was asked to perform. Let’s just say his workout was the stuff legends are made of. It prompted teams all around the League to request more game film on MOORE and watch his play closely. Clearly the Niners were one of the teams that liked what they saw, very much, upon further review. MOORE was a JC transfer who started for 2 years in Hattiesburg. He exploded in 2017 as a senior with 13 starts, 87 tackles, 10 PBU and 3 INT. He’s a bit slight at about 6’2/190 but is not afraid of contact at all. You don’t draft someone in the Top 100 unless you see them as a potential starter down the line. I’d guess Special Teams is his primary role in 2018, but I would also speculate that he’s a sub-package ace as well. Might be a bit of a reach, but for a guy with clearly a very high ceiling.

In Round 4, at Pick 128, LYNCH selected a player whose situation paralleled something the team used to do a decade or so ago (see MARCUS LATTIMORE). He took KENTAVIUS STREET/DE/NC State who blew out a knee during a workout and is unlikely to play in 2018. This is a roll of the dice on a guy with obvious pass-rush talent, but who will sit on a reserve list this coming season, rehab and hopefully show up in 2019 as a serious roster candidate. He was at the Shrine Game venue and looked solid. He plays very low and can dip under tall OT and get to the QB. If he were 6’4 he’d have been highly coveted pre-injury. But I will say it one more time; in today’s world of pro sports teams/coaches have to learn how to find a place on the field for talented players who may not fit the ideal prototype of a decade or more ago. We’ll see if STREET can make this pay off for Lynch a year from now.

Round 5, Pick 142 netted the team another player who does not fit the size stereotype at 5’9/180, but is a highly productive player who may be a solid fit at a slot-corner position; D.J. REED/CB/Kansas State. Oh, did I mention that he is also dynamic as a Return Specialist?! He has huge hands for his size at 10″ which may explain his ability to catch and secure kicked balls at an elite level. He averaged 14.8 yards on Punt Returns and 34.2 yards on kick-off returns. Could make a solid nickel/slot CB for them as well. His 4.50/40-time at the Combine does not match up with what you see of him on tape as he runs away from tacklers.

In Round 6, at Pick 184, the team took MARCELL HARRIS/S/Florida who missed almost all of the 2017 season, after entering the summer as their top returning tackler at DBU in Gainesville, FL. He’s 6-0/208 and is a ferocious tackler with decent ball sills in pass defense. His 4.55/40-time is solid for a 210 lb. frame. He should excel immediately on Special Teams and have a good shot to make this team. Could be used in multiple ways in their D.

At Pick 223, the team grabbed another under-the-radar prospect who played DT at Temple, but may project outside at DE for the Niners. JULIAN TAYLOR, stands 6’5 and weighs about 280 right now. Biggest question mark with TAYLOR is his propensity to be dinged up too often and miss playing time, but he could add length to their DL, which behind BUCKNER and ARMSTEAD features a lot of guys 6’4 and under. I like the roll of the dice on this guy in Round 7.

And finally we have Pick 240 and a very exciting potential weapon for their Offense in RICHIE JAMES/WR/Middle Tennessee, who is lightning in a bottle with a ball in his hands and some open grass in front of him. His 4.50/40-time is deceptive. His game is all about quickness and field vision. May also get a shot as a Return Specialist ala PETTIS. Key word for JAMES is upside if his 5’9/178 frame can take the pounding of the NFL. His college resume’ makes that seem somewhat dubious.

I don’t like this effort as much as last year’s by LYNCH, but then again you’d have to throw in the acquisition of GAROPPOLO into this Draft Class equation, which makes it exceptional at this point in time. Watch out NFC West, the worm is turning.

Pigskin