What Experts Said about 49ers 2015 Draft Class

View all of San Francisco's selections from the 2015 NFL Draft

Draft day has finally arrived. After months of speculation, the 2016 NFL Draft kicks off on Thursday night at 5 p.m. PT with the first round. You can watch our live studio show at 49ers.com/draft.

But before we find out the names of this year's San Francisco 49ers draft class, let's first look back at how the team's haul from 2015 was initially received in the media.

Arik Armstead, Jaquiski Tartt, Eli Harold, Mike Davis, Blake Bell, Bradley Pinion and Trent Brown all contributed in some fashion as rookies. Meanwhile, DeAndre Smelter, Ian Silberman and Busta Anderson are expected to compete for roles at their respective positions this year.

All of the below comments were written in the immediate aftermath of the 2015 draft:

NFL.com's Lance Zierlein

Analysis: "I really like the Arik Armstead pick for the 49ers because he's tall, he's long, he's ascending as a prospect and he really fits well into their 3-4 scheme. Eli Harold should've been drafted higher. There's a medical issue with him where teams were a little bit concerned, and that allowed him to drop. But this is a guy with maybe the fastest three-step upfield burst in the entire draft, so I really was a fan of getting him there.

"They also grabbed DeAndre Smelter in the fourth round, and I think he had a second-round grade if he doesn't tear an ACL. They also grabbed a couple guards and a tight end that will help. Overall, it was a strong draft for San Francisco."

NFL.com's Bryan Fischer

Analysis: "GM Trent Balkke likes to move around in the draft, and Thursday he managed to move back just a few spots and land a number of quality selections on Day 3. On top of that, the 49ers landed one of the most versatile defensive linemen available in Arik Armstead, who can develop into a dominant player.

"Jaquiski Tartt has plenty of upside at safety and will help support the run in a division where run defense is essential. Eli Harold had first-round talent, but the 49ers were able to get him in the third. Mike Davis can help fill the hole Frank Gore left behind. DeAndre Smelter has obvious upside given his measurables."

NFL.com's Bucky Brooks

Analysis: "With all the veterans departing during the offseason, the pressure was squarely on GM Trent Baalke to find immediate contributors in the draft. At first glance, it appears the wily evaluator landed a few gems with his selections of defensive tackle Arik Armstead (Round 1), safety Jaquiski Tartt (Round 2) and outside linebacker Eli Harold (Round 3). Each prospect is ideally suited to play in the 49ers' scheme. Of course, it might take a little time to receive a solid return on investment, due to a lack of polish and refinement in a few areas.

"Running back Mike Davis (Round 4) and tight end Blake Bell (Round 4) are underrated prospects with the potential to carve out key roles as rookies. Davis, in particular, is a hard-nosed runner with the size and "thump" to carry the workload as a featured 'back. He is a nice complement for Pierre Garçon in the backfield."

ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr.

Analysis: "Since Trent Baalke has been running the show, I think I've liked every 49ers draft – usually a lot. This one wasn't bad by any measures, but there's a lot of projection here. Arik Armstead is the definition of potential over polish, as he has all the physical talent and size you want, but he really needs to go to school if he wants to become great. Jaquiski Tartt will come downhill and is something of a hybrid, a guy who can cover but won't weaken you against the run.

"Eli Harold is also a lot of projection because he has shot-out-of-a-cannon explosiveness but isn't yet a complete player. They hit a home run last year with Aaron Lynch, and Harold has the chance to be a disruptor, too. If he stayed in school for another year, we could've been talking about him as a first-rounder in 2016. Blake Bell is another projection play, as he's starting to figure tight end out – he's also an interesting guy to have, depending what the 2-point conversion rules gives us. DeAndre Smelter is a scratch-off ticket with million-dollar upside. I'm fascinated to see what this class becomes."

ESPN's Todd McShay

Analysis: "The Niners did a great job of manipulating the draft board in Round 1, moving back two spots in a deal with San Diego to add picks, while still getting a perfect scheme fit and a good value pick in Armstead. His length and power, combined with excellent quickness, make him a very effective 5-technique defensive end in the Niners' 3-4 defense.

"I also really liked the third-round pick of Virginia's Eli Harold, who has the potential to develop into a solid edge rusher."

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