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What We Learned from Day 1 of 2015 NFL Draft

Posted Apr 30, 2015

The San Francisco 49ers picked up Oregon defensive end Arik Armstead with the 17th overall selection in the 2015 NFL Draft. The club also added two more selections.

It wouldn't feel like draft night unless Trent Baalke was on the phone making a trade.

Such was the case on Thursday night for the start of the 2015 NFL Draft. Baalke pulled off a deal with the San Diego Chargers and eventually selected Oregon defensive end Arik Armstead as the San Francisco 49ers first-round pick, at No. 17 overall. Baalke moved back two spots in the first round and picked up a fourth-round pick this year and a fifth-round selection in 2016.

It was vintage maneuvering from the 49ers general manager.

CEO Jed York even joked on Twitter that "#TraderTrent" was at it again.

We learned once more that Baalke is willing to make trades that will continue to help the roster build long-term depth.

We also learned much more after 32 picks were made in Chicago.

1. Armstead was indeed, "the perfect fit."

NFL Media analyst Bucky Brooks warned us earlier in the week. He said Armstead wout fit in nicely in San Francisco's 3-4 defense. In fact, seven other mock-drafting writers predicted the 49ers would pick up Armstead. "I needed to appease the media," Baalke joked.

So why was the Oregon product so coveted by the GM? It's because Armstead is a rare talent as a defensive lineman.

Not many 6-foot-7, 295-pound linemen are able to play the four-technique, which means head-up over the opposing tackle.

"True four-techniques are hard to find," Baalke siad. "It's a big part of what we do here."

2. Armstead played his best on biggest stage.

San Francisco's newest addition played hurt as a junior and still improved his draft stock in Baalke's eyes. He did so by putting on his best performances in the CFB Playoffs. Armstead even recorded a career-high nine tackles in the championship game loss to Ohio State.

"That's a lot of production," said Baalke, noting that Armstead racked up the tackles while facing Ohio State's challenging zone-read scheme.

Armstead won't be expected to start right away with the 49ers. He'll have to "earn" his role with San Francisco's defense, according to head coach Jim Tomsula. Armstead is a Sacramento native. He told 49ers.com that he's proud to be representing his region in the NFL.

It sounds like this pick was "perfect" in many ways for both the player and team.

3. Six wideouts go in the first round.

Many speculated that the 49ers would target a first-round wideout in 2015. But that simply wasn't the case. Alabama wide receiver Amari Cooper was the first receiver to be drafted. He went to the Oakland Raiders as the fourth overall pick. Five other wideouts followed him in the first round, including three more after San Francisco's initial 15th slot.

Miami picked up Louisville's DeVante Parker, a favorite of some in the Bay Area media, with the 14th selection. That's when Baalke traded back with San Diego to the 17th pick.

There are several top-flight wide receiver prospects still on the board, like Missouri's Dorial-Green Beckham and Arizona State's Jaelen Strong. Will the 49ers make that position a priority on day two of the draft? San Francisco holds the 46th and 79th overall selections.

4. San Francisco to face several top first-round selections in 2015.

The 49ers will see the best of the 2015 draft class early and often next season. In fact, they'll face 13 first-round picks, including four top-10 selections.

-Week 1 vs. Minnesota Vikings and 11th overall pick Trae Waynes, a cornerback out of Michigan State.
-Week 2 at Pittsburgh Steelers and 22nd overall pick, Bud Dupree, an outside linebacker out of Kentucky.
-Week 3 at (Week 12 vs.) Arizona Cardinals and 24th overall pick, D.J. Humphries, an offensive tackle out of Florida.
-Week 4 vs. Green Bay Packers and 30th overall pick, Damarious Randall, a free safety out of Arizona State.
-Week 5 at New York Giants and ninth overall pick, Ereck Flowers, an offensive tackle out of Miami.
-Week 6 vs. Baltimore Ravens and 26th overall pick, Breshad Perriman, a wide receiver out of Central Florida.
-Week 8 at (Week 17 vs.) St. Louis Rams and 10th overall pick, Todd Gurley, a running back out of Georgia.
-Week 9 vs. Atlanta Falcons and eighth overall pick, Vic Beasley, an outside linebacker out of Clemson.
-Week 13 at Chicago Bears and seventh overall pick, Kevin White, a wide receiver out of West Virginia.
-Week 14 at Cleveland Browns and 12th overall selection, Danny Shelton, a nose tackle out of Washington.
-Week 15 vs. Cincinnati Bengals and 21st overall selection, Cedric Ogbuehi, an offensive tackle out of Texas A&M.
-Week 16 at Detroit Lions and 28th overall selection, Laken Tomlinson, a guard out of Duke.

5. Pac-12 prospects enjoy significant attention.

Armstead was one of seven Pac-12 players to be selected in the top 20 of the draft. Nine players from the conference were selected in the first round, including three from the University of Washington. Eight players from the Southeastern Conference were chosen in the first round.

Typically it's the SEC that dominates the first round of the draft. But on this night, Armstead's selection and several other West Coast prospects earned some well-deserved national attention.

In the case of Armstead, Baalke noted that he personally scouted a road game in Eugene and saw Armstead compete in the Pac-12 title game at Levi's® Stadium.

Armstead is already a perfect 2-0 in the home of the 49ers. Oregon beat Cal in the regular season and Arizona to win the conference crown.


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