The San Francisco 49ers entered day three of the NFL Draft with eight picks at their disposal.
They used those picks to add depth to their secondary, offensive line and offensive skill positions. And they finally took a quarterback.
The 49ers came into this draft with a lot of needs, mostly on the offensive side of the field. The team averaged the least amount of points per game at 14.9, and 31st in total yards a game at 303.8.
For a Chip Kelly’s offense that isn’t going to cut it. In Philadelphia Kelly led the Eagles to the 12th best total offense, gaining 364.4 yards per game. So with two of their first three picks being defensive players it would be assumed that skill players would be a must on day three.
Fans prayers would be answered as General Manager Trent Baalke selected three straight skill players in the sixth round to give Kelly weapons for his new up-tempo offense.
Overall, on day three the 49ers’ eight picks consisted of three defensive players, two being corners making that seven selected in three years, and five offensive players, two being offensive lineman.
That makes three total for the draft. A sign of hope of fixing an abysmal offensive line from last season.
Round 4 Pick 133: Rashard Robinson, CB LSU
The 49ers spent their first pick of day three on another cornerback.
That’s back to back cornerbacks from the SEC. Robinson is a different animal than Mississippi State’s Will Redmond, the 49ers third round pick. Robinson is strictly an outside corner with elite press-man cover skills.
A long player, 6 feet 1 inches tall, with 32 inch arms he makes it difficult for quarterbacks to complete passes against him.
He does have something in common with Redmond besides them both playing in the SEC, red flags. As Redmond deals with an injury problem, Robinson deals with strong character concerns.
He was kicked off the team for violation of team rules. In June 2015 he was arrested for unauthorized entry into a teammate’s apartment.
Robinson will have to try to fix his problems. He says he had lunch with the 49ers’ team pastor during the combine. Robinson believes he has learned from his mistakes and won’t be a problem in San Francisco.
“I had things come up in the past, but you know I had to learn from my mistakes in the past you know just missing this whole season and everything. Just learning from them and just trying to progress and become better as a man and a person, as a whole.”
His man cover skills could warrant him a first round grade. He’s able to play press man and off coverage. He’s fast enough and long enough to recover when lost in coverage.
His best tape is from his freshman year when he went one on one with then Texas A&M’s Wide Receiver Mike Evans. He held him to only four catches for 51 yards.
As mentioned before Robinson has character issues to deal with and the 49ers may not be the best locker room to handle that situation. They haven’t been successful dealing with them in the past, whether it’s former 49er and current Raider Aldon Smith or Ray McDonald who is no longer in the NFL. So San Francisco is not the best fit in that regard.
His other main issue is his weight, he’s just too skinny to compete at the NFL level right now. He weighed in at 171 pounds at the combine and says he’s currently around 182 pounds. That may still be too skinny for a press corner, he may need to gain 10 more pounds.
If he stays out of trouble he’s a steal. A first to second round talent that can step up in a few years and become the 49ers number one corner, but there is that risk. What if he messes up? That’s a risk San Francisco are willing to take with a third day selection.
Round 5, Pick 143: Ronald Blair, DL Appalachian State
Remember when Appalachian State upset Michigan in 2007. That was the greatest upset in regular season football at the time in my opinion. You know who does remember? Trent Baalke remembers?
Baalke always remembers, so take that Jim Harbaugh!
The pick is a solid and in reality Baalke probably didn’t make it to stick it to former 49ers head coach and current Michigan head coach Harbaugh. Or maybe it is?
He fits in their 34 front well, he’s stout against the run and has the ability at times to put pressure on the opposing quarterback. He’ll start out as rotational player after taking Oregon’s DeForest Buckner in the first round.
He’s a run stuffer, Blair received the 13th rated 3-4 defensive lineman in the class, 27th against the run, according to Pro Football Focus. He also has a high motor and pass rushing skills for his position garnering a sixth-ranked pass rush grade.
He’s a bit short for his position standing 6 feet 2 inches tall, but he makes up with it with his 34’ inch arms. He also isn’t seen as an elite pass-rusher despite his Pro Football Focus rating. He lacks the ability to win one on one battles in the trenches consistently.
Lastly, his lack of competition in the Sun Belt conference. It’s not the SEC and he didn’t really dominate like most pro teams would like.
He’ll make a great rotational player with upside. It will be nice for DeForest to take a rest once in a while. If Blair comes into his own he’ll become more than that.
Round 5, Pick 145: John Theus, OT Georgia
The 49ers are desperate for offensive line help. They traded up into the first round for Joshua Garnett because there run game was laking, ranking 21st in the league at 96.5 per game. The 49ers right side was an open door for defenders to disrupt the passer on a game by game basis. So Theus fills an immediate need on the o-line and looks to compete for the right tackle spot. They still need one of those because Baalke and retired slash former 49er tackle Anthony Davis are beefing with Davis tweeting his displeasure lately.
On film Theus is an athlete whom posses quick feet and has the knowledge and intangibles to protect the passer. His athleticism allows him to open running lanes on the outside for speedy running backs, something Kelly covets in his o-linemen.
Theus is athletic yes, but lacks the core strength to consistently win against strong left defensive ends. Usually the right tackle is the strongest tackle, considered the power tackle while the left is more of the pass-blocker. That’s why the best run-stopper plays on the left side.
He fits Kelly’s zone-blocking scheme with solid athleticism, but lacks the strength needed for his position. He should be fine overall just needs to work on his core strength probably earns a backup role in the future.
Round 5, Pick 174: Fahn Cooper, OT Ole Miss
Like they took back-to-back SEC cornerbacks with their third and fourth round picks they take two SEC offensive tackles back-to-back with their fifth round picks.
Cooper is pretty much the opposite of John Theus. He’s aggressive and strong and a “mauler” in the run game. Probably is more of your prototypical right tackle. He did play some left tackle when Laremy Tunsil was suspended seven games for receiving impermissible benefits.
He’s not that athletic especially for Chip Kelly’s up-tempo system he won’t help much in the pass game, which could be a problem, actually it is a problem. He’s a solid run-blocker, but his pass-protection needs work.
Even though Cooper posses 35’ inch arms, which are long enough for a tackle to keep pass rushers at bay I think he’s a guard. The label of maulers are usually given to guards and I see him finding a home there. Again, like Garnett he doesn’t fit the scheme Kelly runs. It makes me believe that Baalke is calling most of the shots.
Round 6, Pick 207: Jeff Driskel, QB Louisiana Tech
Hey look a quarterback, but hold on Niner faithful let’s not trade Colin Kaepernick yet, Driskel is a project. Driskel started his career at the University of Florida as the heavens opened up to give us Tim Tebow 2.0. Unfortunately, that’s not how it turned out. Driskel shared snaps as a starter his final year as a Gator and bolted as a graduate transfer to Louisiana Tech.
He’s a big strong athletic quarterback, remember Tebow 2.0. When you look at Driskel you say he must play quarterback he’s 6 feet 4 inches and weighs 234 pounds. He posses a quick release as it’ll come in handy he’ll be pressured a lot if the line isn’t solid in a few years. He’s also very good throwing on the run, which will also come in handy for the same reasons.
He’s still a bit of a project, and isn’t accurate enough as a passer he needs to be. He also can’t see plays before they happen. He tends to throw to where his receiver is rather where’d they will be. It’s the difference between separating receivers from their defenders, which leads to big yards gained or even better touchdowns.
A big athletic kid who will fit in with what Chip Kelly wants to do at the quarterback position. Will be a backup for his first years and probably a journeyman, unless Kelly uses his QB guru whispering skills turning him into a star.
Round 6, Pick 211: Kelvin Taylor, RB Florida
The 49ers reunite two former Florida Gator teammates with back-to-back picks. I’ve written back-to-back too many times, shout out Drake.
Taylor compares his game to his father. He watches tape of his dad, along with former Florida Gator Emmitt Smith and former 49er Frank Gore. He says realizing who his father was in the NFL helped him become the player he is today.
“Just watching him be the great pro that he was and just watching him every day just working and trying to be the best player he could be. I’d definitely have to say I understand how important my father was. Just watching him be a great pro in the NFL and watch how he just takes little pieces of my dad’s game and put it into my game and I feel like I can’t be stopped after that.”
In my mind he’s a three down back. He wasn’t asked to catch out of the backfield much, but he definitely can. He’s also a willing blocker on passing downs.
“I feel like I’m a great back and I just feel like I’m a back who can do it all. I feel like I’m an every down back. I’m just ready to get out there in camp and ready to start making plays and I’m just very thankful and blessed for this opportunity and I just can’t wait to get out there and make plays.”
He didn’t test well at the combine, he ran a 4.60 40-yard-dash, but he’s quicker than fast.
He didn’t put up glitzy numbers his three years at Florida, which is concerning, but it could be that his o-line wasn’t great. At times he can be impatient with his blocks causing him to head into the wrong hole.
Love the kid as a player and Chip Kelly has made it clear he wants to run the football. He joins a backfield with Carlos Hyde and last years fourth-rounder, Mike Davis it will be interesting to see how many backs they keep there. I was surprised they didn’t go with a change of pace back like California’s Daniel Lasco.
Round 6, Pick 213: Aaron Burbridge, WR Michigan State
The 49ers take a much-needed receiver, but he may be too similar to the other receivers on the roster. Burbridge has solid stats as he was the Big 10 wide receiver of the year in 2015. He led the conference in both receiving yards and touchdowns (1,258 yards and seven touchdowns).
Burbridge is quality route-runner. He has a more polished route tree than many receivers selected before him. His Ohio State tape against Eli Apple is why I think Apple was a reach at 10 to the New York Giants. He’s a leader who competes throughout games and gives it all on the field.
He has small hands, measured at eight inches at the combine. It may cause him to drop the ball more often than he should. He’s also not an explosive athlete and lacks the size to go up and grab the ball while it’s in the air, lacks game breaking speed for size.
I was a bit surprised that they didn’t take Bralon Addison from Oregon. I think he’d fit Kelly’s system better, he brings something that the offense doesn’t have. They can still add him as a priority free agent. Burbridge can excel with his plentiful route tree, will make the team.
Round 7, Pick 249: Prince Charles Iworah, CB Western Kentucky
Hey look it’s the seventh cornerback the 49ers have taken in three years, like I mentioned before. I hope nobody held their breath. Cornerback was obviously a position of need and they feel they didn’t grab a true number one, so there taking a bunch in hopes that they’ll hit on one.
But hey this guys has one hell of a name.
He is a crazy athlete. He ran a 4.32 40-yard dash, jumped 38 and a half inches and posted a broad jump of 10 feet 8 inches.
He may be an athlete, but he’s inconsistent at times and unlike the other two corners taken ahead of him he isn’t the best man cover corner, but luckily has the speed to recover. He’s also small for the position only standing 5 feet 9 inches tall.
They drafted a cornerback who’s an explosive athlete in the third round, Will Redmond. Is this pick insurance in case his ACL doesn’t heal quick enough? I don’t see the need to take a guy so similar to a person you just drafted. That’s also one packed secondary.