Grading the 49ers' Day Two picks
This NFL Draft doesn't have the same buzz as last year's for the San Francisco 49ers, but that's not to say that it can't have a big impact.
Here, I'll give my take on every pick the 49ers make, as they happen:
Round 2 • Pick 61
Drake Jackson — DE — USC
NFL Comparison: Za'Darius Smith
What I like: While he's listed around 250 pounds, he actually showed up to his pro day above 270 pounds. That extra weight should come in handy as he's likely to line up in Arik Armstead's old 5-technique spot.
He had an incredible broad jump of 124 inches. That's an elite number and typically correlates with the ability to get off the line fast — the core tenet of Kris Kocurek's defensive line.
I like his length and feel for the game. He showed a good motor to chase down runs from behind in the two USC games I watched with an eye on him.
Another favorite characteristic of Kocurek? Versatility. Jackson should have the athletic ability to play inside, outside, and way outside.
The Niners can also drop him into coverage if they want.
What I don't like: Inconsistent play at USC, to say the least. He had moments where he looked the part of a top 10 pick, but those were simply too infrequent this past season. It's also fair to wonder about his hands and play strength. He could be eaten up by offensive linemen that were average at best.
What it tells us: The 49ers have taken a defensive lineman for the sixth time in the last eight drafts and as of late, they have a type.
They simply can never have too many defensive linemen, but with Arik Armstead showing that he's a better player on the inside this past year, San Francisco needed a new strong side defensive end. They have good depth, but Jackson will get an opportunity to see the bulk of the rotation.
Value: Perfect. Jackson was a player expected to go exactly in this range, and while the defensive end position wasn't a true need, it's always something the Niners want to add.
It's hard to find any fault with this pick. Jackson is the kind of athletic defensive end that can have an immediate impact. He's no guarantee — that's why he was picked at No. 61 — but his upside is immense and his fit is exceptional.
Round 3 • Pick 93
Tyrion Davis-Price — RB — LSU
NFL Comparison: Jay Ajayi
What I like: He can do just a little bit of everything. His vision is impressive and he has some burst when he sees open space. His physicality can make him a nice goal-line option for a team that perhaps needed a bit more size in the backfield. He has a chance to be an outstanding pass protection option which could put him in the fold right away to be the team's third-down back. He has the size and durability to be a bellcow kind of back.
What I don't like: He isn't a classic one-step-and-go running back — the kind that has been highly effective in Kyle Shanahan offenses. He lacks the hands you want in a third-down back.
The Niners have plenty of running backs and have found tremendous success selecting them in later rounds.
What it tells us: Jeff Wilson's inability to stay on the field is a problem in the eyes of Kyle Shanahan. Trey Sermon might not be set for a significant increase in playing time in his second year in the NFL.
Value: Big Yikes. Davis-Price could end up looking like a good value, but this was a serious reach. The most favorable evaluation I could find had him as a late fifth-round pick.
There is plenty to like about Davis-Price — he was tough, talented, and productive at LSU, which is easier said than done. But this pick is confusing because Davis-Price looks like a short-yardage or third-down back. That's not something that needs to be picked with a top100 selection.
The same could be said for Trey Sermon last season. This feels like the Niners trying to correct a bad top-100 pick last year with a top-100 pick this year.
Round 3 • Pick 105
Danny Gray — WR — SMU
NFL Comparison: Antonio Callaway
What I like: If you need someone to run fast on the field, this is your guy. He has truly elite straight-line speed and it shows in-game film. Ran a true 4.4-second 40-yard dash with a nice 10-yard split. This is a burner of the highest order.
What I don't like:
Just don't ask him to change direction. For as fast as Gray is, his inability to move left and right is jarring. Makes him a bit of a one-trick pony. There are also serious concerns about his frame holding up at the NFL level — he fought injuries at SMU.
What it tells us: The 49ers have a quarterback who can push the ball down the field in Trey Lance and Kyle Shanahan likes wide receivers who can take the top off a defense. Gray has the kind of speed to make that happen, no matter where he lines up. Gray might be more of a gadget player than an every-down option, but he could prove useful in what will be a new 49ers' offense.
Value: Fine. Gray was projected to be an early Day 3 pick. The Niners selected him with the last pick of the third round.
There's something to be said for Gray's skillset, which could prove valuable to the 49ers, but he is a depth wide receiver and a likely gadget player. For a team that needs a starting strong safety and a great deal of offensive line help, this is a confusing selection, even if it wasn't a particularly egregious one.