Day three of the 2017 NFL Draft has come to a close, which means the draft is officially over. This was the first draft since 2009 where the 49ers were not led by Trent Baalke, who was fired earlier this offseason and replaced by John Lynch, a former FOX analyst who had never worked in a front office prior to the 49ers hiring him. Let’s see how he did.
First Round, Pick 3: Solomon Thomas, Defensive End – B+
Lynch made a strong impression from the get go, trading down from the second overall pick to the third overall pick and gaining two third round picks and a fourth. Somehow, someway, he convinced Chicago that they needed to trade up to get Mitch Trubisky, and ended up fleecing the Bears out of three picks and still ended up with the player they would’ve taken at two. Thomas is a very talented player, but not exactly at a position of need. He should add value in both run and pass defense, which is why this pick still gets a B+.
First Round, Pick 31: Reuben Foster, Linebacker – A+
The 49ers trade back into the bottom of the first round(using the pick the Bears gave them) to select a player they were considering at two. Foster is the best linebacker in this draft class and a top 10 talent overall, but slipped due to concerns about a past shoulder injury. If that shoulder checks out, the 49ers got the steal of the draft.
Third Round, Pick 66: Ahkello Witherspoon, Cornerback – A
The selection of Witherspoon over a safety confirms that 49ers cornerback Jimmie Ward will be the team’s starting free safety this season. In the 49ers Seattle-style 4-3 under defense, the free safety is the most important piece on the field because he is responsible for covering the entire back half of the defense since the strong safety lines up in the box. Witherspoon will be taking Ward‘s spot at outside corner alongside Rashard Robinson. Standing at 6’3 and nearly 200 lbs, Witherspoon is a long press corner who is athletically extremely similar to the Seahawks’ Richard Sherman.
Round 3, Pick 104: CJ Beathard, Quarterback – F
To Lynch’s credit, this was really his only bad pick, but boy was it bad. Beathard was probably going to be available in the sixth or seventh rounds, but the 49ers strangely traded up for him. If he makes the roster, a big if, he won’t be much more than a third-stringer for the next few years, if not his entire career.
Round 4, Pick 121: Joe Williams, Running Back – A
Questions about Williams’ commitment to football due to his mid-season retirement last year were quickly put to rest when he explained why: The death of his sister. After hearing his story, it’s hard not to root for his success, and Williams has a quick path to that success in the form of a Tevin Coleman-like role behind Carlos Hyde. Williams is an extremely athletic running back who was highly productive when he played at Utah. Expect him to immediately carve out a role as a change of pace back.
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