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San Francisco 49ers 2014 NFL Draft Grades

Posted May 12, 2014

The San Francisco 49ers received high marks for their 12-player haul in the 2014 NFL Draft. Read the reviews from notable NFL analysts.



The San Francisco 49ers received high marks for their 12-player haul in the 2014 NFL Draft.

Read the reviews from notable NFL analysts.

ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr.

Grade: A

The most depressing thing about San Francisco's draft is I don't even think Todd McShay and I have a single argument to be found here. The Niners just got so many good players. Jimmie Ward will cover, attack the line of scrimmage, and will play fast and fearless. If you call that a reach, remember that Arizona had taken Deone Bucannon at No. 27, so there were already three safeties off the board (not that Bucannon and Ward are that similar) and the 49ers knew if they didn't land Ward at that spot, they had no chance later. They got the No. 1 RB in the draft at No. 57. Frank Gore has a lot of miles on the odometer, and if Marcus Lattimore is your No. 1, you better have a 1-A. Carlos Hyde made sense and, again, he's the top RB in the draft.

Marcus Martin is a future starter at center, Chris Borland is immediate depth at linebacker and has the experience to play now. Brandon Thomas is another 49ers redshirt, but could be a star guard when he comes back (he hurt his knee this spring, but would have gone in Round 2 otherwise). Bruce Ellington isn't a far cry from Brandin Cooks, but he went 86 picks later. It goes on and on. Dontae Johnson is solid and Aaron Lynch has developmental promise. I even like the pick at No. 245 - Trey Millard is the top fullback in the draft and was another guy who dropped on some boards after a knee injury. What I like about this draft is the 49ers are in a championship window, and they still managed to balance both the need for immediate help and also got a lot of talent for the future. The window can remain open.

Rob Rang of CBS Sports

Grade: A

In qualifying for three consecutive NFC Championship games, the 49ers clearly boast one of the league's most talented rosters and entered the draft with 11 selections (tied for second most in the NFL), so you couldn't blame GM Trent Baalke if he gambled a bit in the draft. Early on, however, he filled clear areas of need, adding a versatile defensive back in Jimmie Ward who has the range to handle safety as well the coverage ability to drop down and play nickel corner. The 49ers also drafted the most intriguing center in the draft in Marcus Martin and added a dynamic athlete in slot receiver Bruce Ellington. Just as the club did a year ago with injured stars Tank Carradine and Marcus Lattimore, San Francisco invested a relatively early picks in players likely to need a "redshirt" season, nabbing former Clemson tackle Brandon Thomas (projects to guard in this scheme) and cornerback Keith Reiser.

Add to this, San Francisco added the most bullish runner in the draft with Carlos Hyde, a potential steal in pass rusher Aaron Lynch and quite possibly the most instinctive defender at any position in the draft in linebacker Chris Borland, among others. San Francisco's selections were not without risk as Lynch has under-achieved to this point in his career and Borland's short arms make him a better fit in a 4-3 than a 3-4. Otherwise, however, it was another quality haul for a team that was just one tipped pass away from competing in their second consecutive Super Bowl.

Vinnie Ayer of The Sporting News

Grade: A-

While they did their usual stockpiling to bring in several projects, they also got players to fit their win-now mold, Ward and Martin. Hyde may end up getting an early workload to make it easier on Frank Gore. Borland is a nice backup and special teamer to have behind Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman.

Doug Farrar of SI.com

Grade: B

Armed with a flood of picks from the third round on, and with the knowledge that they’ve hit on just one starter (safety Eric Reid) in their last two drafts, the 49ers knew that they had to hit bigger. They certainly did in the first round with Northern Illinois safety Jimmie Ward, a special player who can also line up at corner and slot corner. Second-round running back Carlos Hyde presents the best power/speed combination in this class, and he fits San Francisco’s offense perfectly.

A few notable steals: South Carolina receiver Bruce Ellington in the fourth round, South Florida end Aaron Lynch in the fifth and Wisconsin linebacker Chris Borland in the third.

Pete Prisco of CBS Sports

Grade: B

The 49ers traditionally do a good job drafting players, and they did here too. I love Ward's game. They did take some risks with Lynch and tackle Brandon Thomas, who is coming off an ACL injury suffered in a workout. If they hit, this could be a great draft.