Grading the Picks: 49ers Late Round Draft Picks
Image Credit: Amber Searls/USA TODAY Sports
The 49ers were setup for success with the second overall pick after the Cardinals drafted Kyler Murray. The red and gold snagged arguably the best defensive player and perhaps the best player in the draft in Nick Bosa. They reloaded the wide receiver corps when they drafted Deebo Samuel and Jalen Hurd in the second and third rounds respectively. But in a draft where you are limited in draft picks it’s just as important to hit your late round picks as it is to your early round ones. Let’s look at the 49ers later-round selections and see if they found any value in them. They had some interesting picks.
Mitch Wishnowsky, punter, Utah (6’2” 218 pounds)
The absolute most interesting pick for the 49ers was a punter in the fourth round. Now they did draft what was supposed to be the best punter in this year’s draft. But is taking the Australian native in the fourth round like taking a Greg Zuerlein in the seventh round of your fantasy draft? You would expect the 49ers could have gotten him later in the draft and drafted someone else in fourth round. It was definitely a position of need, but I think they pulled the trigger a little too early on this one.
Dre Greenlaw, linebacker, Arkansas (5’11” 237 pounds)
The linebacker corps last season was a revolving door due to injuries and the Reuben Foster incident. Foster is now gone, and the 49ers signed former Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Kwon Alexander. Dre Greenlaw is a former safety turned linebacker so he’s a little bit on the small size. In fact, he’s four inches shorter than Fred Warner and a couple inches less than Kwon Alexander. Greenlaw and Kyler Murray could start a fraternity in the NFL. I’m not sure about this one;Greenlaw has battled the injury bug the past two seasons, but he did post some nice numbers his senior year in college:eighty tackles, 6½of which went for a loss, including two sacks and two interceptions. This definitely seems like a depth piece but I’m worried he could become a liability if he has to actually play due to his size and lack of pop. He may end up on special teams.
Kaden Smith, tight end, Stanford (6’5” 255 pounds)
We knew last season that Celek Time was coming to an end. The emergence of George Kittle and Garrett Celek’s inability to produce when he was needed proved to John Lynch and company that it was time to make a move. Kaden Smith’s draft profile pegged him as an NFL backup or special teams potential. He does possess the necessary run-blocking talent and catching ability for head coach Kyle Shanahan to run a two tight end set or give starting George Kittle a breather. Smith was a depth move but has enough skills to be useful moving forward.
Justin Skule, tackle, Vanderbilt (6’7” 317 pounds)
Joe Staley has only a couple years left.Yes, that sucks. But good teams set plans in motion for the future. Lynch and Shanahan knows there is a future post Staley and they need to plan for it. Justin Skule is a swing tackle (can play both left and right side) who doesn’t have to start right away. He can stand back and learn from both Staley and last year’s first-round pick Mike McGlinchey and then become a starter when Staley retires. And if he doesn’t pan out, who cares?He was a sixth-round pick.
Tim Harris, cornerback, Virginia (6’2” 197 pounds)
It was very surprising the 49ers did not address the secondary until their last pick in the draft. In fact, it’s a little scary. How I read this pick is as nothing more than a depth pick. Lynch and company apparently seem to be very happy with the current roster in the secondary and does not want to breakup their dynamic. Now I have made the argument a few times the team did address the secondary when they signed Dee Ford and drafted Nick Bosa. An improved pass rush should help out the secondary with quarterbacks not having all day to just sit back and pick apart the defense.
With that being said the 49ers did draft Tim Harris as a depth piece but with injury or should Harris prove himself worthy enough could be a starter down the road. He’s a big athletic cornerback who can hang with the bigger receivers, but his biggest knock is durability (sigh). He is a potential high-reward player with very little risk as he was a sixth-round pick.
The back half of the draft has a lot more question marks than it does instant playmakers. We all know the later rounds are more for depth than anything, but when you find that diamond in the rough it really makes you look good knowing the draft capital that was spent.However,I am afraid we have more coal than we do diamonds.
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