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2017 Draft Grades: 49ers earn A-
By Nic St. Marie
Special to gzl-football.com

It has been quite a while since I've done draft analysis the way I would like. I had a pretty big career shift moving up to Officer for the Air Force, and going from a mechanic to a desk jockey and a power-point ranger has really changed things for me.

Those things brought on a move to Alabama, Texas, then Florida where I'm settling into our first mortgage and first home with a beach. In the middle of all of this no one has been asking me to leave for being distracted, in fact one of my teams decided to mature at the right moment and win a championship.

Anyway, I've decided that the divisional pick-by-pick analysis needs to be replaced if I'm going to do anything so here in this article you'll see a shift in style while keeping a lot of the elements to allow me to check out the players in the same depth hopefully. I'll still start in my division but hopefully this gives me the chance to work my way outside of the division and perhaps around the league without wanting to kill myself.

1.2 -
WR Josh Gordon - A- --- Best comparison(s): Michael Floyd, Keenan Allen
There was an outstanding group of WRs at the top of this draft, and Gordon is one of at least three that would get an A at this spot. One could argue for and against Gordon and a couple others being possible top 3 WR in the league in 5 seasons but Josh's hands were far better than the others, along with being a better athlete while losing in the height department. The 49ers pick here is consistent with some of their past moves, valuing a blend of elite athleticism and skill over height, although Gordon still has a height advantage against almost every CB he'll face. Fantastic pick.

3.2 -
HB Charles Sims - B --- Best comparison(s): Ryan Mathews
3.24 - LG Clinton Newton - B+ --- Best comparison(s): Aaron Sears
3.29 - TE Dorian McDonald - A- --- Best comparison(s): Tyler Eifert
4.2 - LOLB O.J. Berry - A+ --- Best comparison(s): backups
In the 3rd and 4th round (and beyond) the Niners showed their mettle in the 2017 draft. This is one of the most unsexy mid-rounds I've seen in some time, while still adding to the team's talent with each pick.

At HB it's tough to project how such a quick and weak guy will do. In San Diego you see Mathews break away behind an athletic line, and in GB you see the same with Doug Martin. But then you look at weak games and you wonder if it's all worth it. Just to take a stab at it, I'll define a weak game as at least 15 carries with 3.75 YPC or less. Something you don't see from a power-back unless the defense really brings the power.

Ryan Mathews: 34 in just under 8 seasons
Doug Martin: 24 in just under 5 seasons

I'm giving the Niners a decent grade for where they got him, but I don't have a lot of faith in this weak of a back being anything but a backup that has good value. That can also play WR in a pinch.

Newton needs work, but as an athlete is a steal at this point in the draft. McDonald is a surprisingly good all-around TE for a guy without flashy speed or power or height. He's everything they lack when they put Little on the field, and will be a big boost to the run game if he plays as a #1 while still being a good receiving TE.

Finally, OLB Berry is a 6'0" OLB with 79 SPD and 80 ACC. For those who look beyond that, he has the rare 70/70/70 in AWR/CTH/TAK while bringing 79 STR. I can find no comps for him that have good hands, or that aren't slow MLBs that rack up tackles. He may be better inside but I have a suspicion that he can be a really good OLB, so I'll illustrate what that means in the next paragraph.

This is your Lance Briggs type steal in the 4th round, a guy that won't bring the crazy TFL highlights or run down the field with a star TE but can start his entire career with no weakness holding the edge, good hands, good tackling, and won't get lost. Also an outstanding pick.

5.11 -
FS Rodney McCleod - B+ --- Best comparison(s): Kenny Vaccaro
5.17 - FB Daryl Harvey - C --- Best comparison(s): Robert Hughes
6.2 - DT Mike Daniels - A+ --- Best comparison(s): Pat Sims
6.11 - LE Tyson Mitchell - C --- Best comparison(s): backups
6.31 -
CB Loyal Lee-Heyward - C+ --- Best comparison(s): backups
McCleod is tough to comp too, but Vaccaro at 6'1" was the closest I could find. Other undersized safeties come into the league with corner's hands and learn how to tackle while McCleod is a hitter that needs to work on his hands. He probably won't have the impact on the passing game Vaccaro has already demonstrated until he gets into the second half of his career, but he can play and be an impact (pun intended) safety. Great pick.

Harvey is good enough to start, but while he's better running the ball 22 year old Castle is the better FB. Looks like a decent FB that's too short to help much at TE, thus not much value added on this team. Plus he's weak and lacks the blocking ability to be dealing with front-7 players

Daniels was a nice pick even before the nice skew, and is a starter that can be a star as much as a DT can be one. No holes outside of a lack of agility that will only slightly hinder his pass rushing. Another steal.

Mitchell and LL-H are again talented for this part of the draft, but ultimately didn't skew into starters. They are still worthy bottom of the roster players that could play in a pinch without hurting the team too badly with the right matchups.

Overall Grade: A-
I should have started with a worse draft. The Niners drafted a premium talent at a premium position at 1.2, followed it up with a very solid 2nd & 3rd rounds, and finished strong with 1 above-average starter and a couple other usable depth players from the 5th-6th rounds.

This draft is a prime example of how to fill out a 55-man roster with good players to win more and more battles everywhere on the field.
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