DeForest Buckner Oregon
Round 1: Pick 7
DeForest had a pretty stellar rookie season and was one of the few bright spots on the team’s poor defensive unit. He had 73 combine tackles including 6 sacks. He has awesome strength and power in his hands that help him push by lineman. Buckner has a tremendous motor and an electric personality that could make him one of the future leaders of the defense.
Chances of making the 2017 roster: 100%
He should continue to progress and develop into a dominating player, especially with the added talent around him. Look for him to play less snaps as he will be able to conserve energy to make even more impactful plays in the upcoming season. It will be interesting to see how he translates within the new 4-3 scheme. The defensive line should be one of the team’s biggest strengths as they added free agent Earl Mitchell, 2017 1st round pick Solomon Thomas and a healthy Arik Armstead. The new scheme and added depth should allow Buckner to receive fewer double teams. You can call me an extreme optimist or a homer but I could see DeFo reaching 10+ sacks this year.
Joshua Garnett Stanford
Round 1: Pick 28
The 49ers surprised some fans by trading back into the 1st Round and selecting Joshua Garnett. He is excellent as a pulling guard and made improvements in his first year after somewhat of a sluggish start. His strength is with run blocking and still needs to show more consistency with his pass protections as he has trouble maintaining his block long after the snap. Josh is very smart and I believe that he’ll be able to adapt to the new offense fairly quickly.
Chances of making the 2017 roster: 95%
The offensive line has some question marks going into this season with the new coaching staff but Garnett should be safe and fingers crossed that he will continue to blossom into a quality starting guard.
Will Redmond Mississippi State
Round 3: Pick 5 (68th overall)
The 49ers drafted Redmond only six months after tearing his ACL. He was considered by most 49ers as another (Injured) reach by from gm Trent Baalke. Redmond played in the preseason, earned a spot on the roster, but shortly after he was placed him on injured reserve which ended his season.
Chances of making the 2017 roster: 60%
It will be tough (not impossible) for Redmond to make this team as the competition for the slot position will be fierce and will include Williams, and Keith Reaser. He has great athleticism, footwork and quickness which makes him ideal for the slot position. Redmond absolutely looks the part of an elite cornerback but it is pretty hard for me to gauge how he will actually fare because of his lack of on the field experience.
Rashard Robinson LSU
Round 4: Pick 35 (133rd overall)
Robinson’s talent level was never an issue while he was at LSU, it was his off the field issues that were a concern. Those problems kept him off the field as he only made 8 total starts. A lot of fans and media questioned the pick by Baalke, but this was an absolute home run. Rashard definitely doesn’t lack confidence and if you add that in with his physical style, he should become a fan favorite by the end of the season.
Chances of making the 2017 roster: 100%
Rashard is entering this upcoming season as a clear favorite to start on a defense as the teams #1 cb especially after the arrest and release of former starter Tramaine Brock. Robinson fits well with the new team’s scheme as he excels at pressing receivers at the line of scrimmage. He also does a great job at using his size, awareness and speed to close on defenders quickly and breakup passes.
Ronald Blair Appalachian State
Round 5: Pick 3 (142nd overall)
Blair showed some flashes in his rookie season. He comes out of his stance quickly and uses leverage and tremendous power to out muscle the opposition. He ended the season with 16 tackles including 3 sacks.
Chances of making the 2017 roster: 90%
I believe that Blair will make a big jump from year one. As the team moves to a 4-3 he should improve as this scheme is much more of a natural fit for him. He is one of the players from this draft that you should keep an eye out for to make significant progress from his rookie season. I will be absolutely shocked if Blair doesn’t make the team. In fact, I predict that he will double his number of sacks from last year and get around 6-7 total.
Fahn Cooper Ole Miss
Round 5: Pick 37 (174th overall)
He was released as part of the 49ers’ final roster cuts but was added to the teams practice squad after going unclaimed. He spent his entire rookie year with the 49ers on the practice squad and is now on the Indianapolis Colts.
Jeff Driskel Louisiana Tech
Round 6: Pick 32 (207th overall)
Many fans were excited to see what the athletic qb could do but that was very short lived. Driskel competed with Christian Ponder for the third-string quarterback position in training camp before being waived by the 49ers. He was later claimed by the Cincinnati Bengals.
Kelvin Taylor Florida
Round 6: Pick 36 (211th overall)
The small framed rb (son of Fred Taylor) looked decent in his short time with the team but he was released by the 49ers during the final roster cuts and was signed to the team’s practice squad. He was later released by the 49ers and spent time with the Seattle Seahawks and Kansas City Chiefs respectively.
Aaron Burbridge Michigan State
Round 6: Pick 38 (213th overall)
Aaron had a solid college career and came up pretty clutch with some big grabs. He was able to see some limited playing time last year. In his brief appearances you could see that he had solid hands and wasn’t afraid to go over the middle and take a hit. He ended the season with 7 receptions for 88 yards.
Chances of making the 2017 roster: 30%
As much as I like Burbridge I just don’t see a way that he could make this team. His natural position would be in the slot. The competition for a roster spot will be quite the challenge for him. Burbridge will be competing with Smelter, Johnson, Carter and Ellington for the sixth and final wr spot.
Prince Charles Iworah Western Kentucky
Round 7: Pick 28 (249th overall)
He was released by the 49ers and placed on the practice squad. He was promoted to the active roster later in the season and made 1 tackle. Even with one year in the league, Prince is extremely raw and will need a lot more time to learn the game.
Chances of making the 2017 roster: 10%
Prince will have a chance to complete for spot in training camp however it may come down to a numbers game. His best chance is to earn a spot is on the practice squad or show value on special teams.
Many people know that I wasn’t the biggest Trent Baalke fan but this draft was really solid. Buckner, Garnett and Robinson are locks to make the team and Blair is a near lock too. I can’t make a complete opinion on any of the remaining players from this draft after only one year but the selections of Buckner, Robinson and Blair are my favorites and will hopefully contribute tremendously on the defensive side for years to come.