A wrap-up of the San Francisco 49ers' draft.
Best move: Letting the draft come to them in the first round and striking when Oregon defensive end DeForest Buckner fell to them at No. 7 overall. The Niners found that rare spot when both need and best player available sat in front of them, and they did not overthink it. Buckner, who is more than familiar to new 49ers coach Chip Kelly, who recruited him to Oregon, and former Ducks teammate Arik Armstead, the Niners’ first-round pick last year, can be game-changers. The 6-foot-7, 290-pounder had 10.5 sacks last season and can be an elite pass-rusher at this level. At least, that’s the Niners’ plan.
Riskiest move: Using a fourth-round pick on former LSU cornerback Rashard Robinson, who is the epitome of a high-risk, high-reward player after his suspension for violations of team rules. If Robinson is on his game, he could be going up against Kenneth Acker in one of training camp’s most intriguing battles for a starting position. If Robinson is not right, he could be a useless distraction. The Niners have drafted seven cornerbacks since 2014, including three this weekend, in a search for that elusive shutdown corner. Did they find him, or will they again have to pull the cards of more cornerbacks next year?
Most surprising move: Kelly was presumably hired to fix San Francisco's offense, yet four of his first five picks were on the defensive side of the ball. Moreover, the 49ers did not draft a skill-position player until grabbing Louisiana Tech quarterback Jeff Driskel with the first of their three sixth-round draft picks, and it’s not a given that he will make the roster with Blaine Gabbert, Colin Kaepernick, Dylan Thompson and Thad Lewis already in Santa Clara. At least they took a running back (Florida’s Kelvin Taylor) and a receiver (Michigan State’s Aaron Burbridge) with their other sixth-rounders.
File it away: Trading up to draft a power-scheme left guard in Stanford’s Joshua Garnett at No. 28 overall when their biggest offseason free-agency signing was a zone-scheme left guard in Zane Beadles seemed particularly strange with the Niners moving to a zone scheme. So don’t be surprised if Garnett makes the transition to right guard to start fresh, so to speak. How does an offensive line of LT Joe Staley, LG Beadles, C Daniel Kilgore, RG Garnett and RT Trent Brown grab you?
Thumbs down: With a caveat. A curious draft for a rebuilding team, to be sure. The 49ers drafted three cornerbacks but no inside linebackers. They traded up to select a player at a position that was already addressed in free agency. And they fortified the right side of the offensive line with late picks and Anthony Davis making noise about returning from retirement. Oh, and they drafted a quarterback in the sixth round. Curious? More like strange.