by Andrew Pasquini, Sports 1140 KHTK
The first round of the NFL draft came and went and both the Oakland Raiders and San Francisco 49ers came out with what looks to be promising draft picks. Both teams had spots to fill on the defensive side of the ball and both seemed to fill those spots with potential impact players. While it might take a few years to see how this draft turns out, on the surface the Raiders and 49ers seem to have passing grades.
Oakland Raiders, B-
With the 24th pick, the Raiders selected Gareon Conley, a defensive back out of the Ohio State University.
There’s a few ways this pick could go and the grade could vary anywhere from an A pick all the way to an F and B- feels like a good mid-point for right now.
Looking at the positive for the Raiders, Conley was rated as one of the top defensive backs in the draft and instantly fills a spot in the secondary for Oakland. Last season, the Raiders finished 24th in pass yards allowed and had issues all season defending the pass. Conley is the type of player the Raiders can build a secondary around.
Conley has plus size and plus length and is an excellent defender. Last season for the Buckeyes, he only allowed 14 receptions all season for 159 yards. That’s good for a 14.0 NFL passer rating which was best in the country.
The big question mark with Conley is his off the field accusations. If anything comes of those, this was a wasted pick for the Raiders.
San Francisco 49ers, A+
If I could, I’d give the 49ers higher than an A+ and new general manager John Lynch won over many 49ers fans with his draft.
His first big move was to trade the second pick in the draft to the Bears (who selected QB Mitchell Trubisky) for the third, 111th, and a third round pick next season.
This trade was a genius move for the rookie GM trading back one spot and acquiring two more picks and still drafting the player they would have drafted at two.
That player was the defensive end out of Stanford, Solomon Thomas.
This is the third draft in a row the 49ers selected a Pac-12 defensive lineman with their first pick (Arik Armstead in 2015, DeForest Buckner in 2016). Unless the 49ers have specific plans for him that they haven’t revealed, this pick leaves a bit to be desired even with the 49ers moving to a 4-3 defensive scheme. Thomas essentially will play in the same position as Armstead as Thomas struggles coming off the edge and is too small to play on the inside.
The 49ers weren’t done as Lynch made another move to slide back into the first round trading the 34th and 111th pick to the Seahawks to select linebacker Reuben Foster, linebacker out of Alabama with the 31st pick.
This could end up being the steal of the draft. Foster was originally projected to be a top ten pick in the draft and some projections had the 49ers selecting him with the second pick.
His stock took a hit during the combine where he had some off the field issues and questions of how healthy Foster is was in question.
Those questions ended up being a blessing for San Francisco and they were able to draft what some called the second best player in the draft at 31.