The San Francisco 49ers came out of the 2014 NFL draft with one of the top classes in the league. ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. gave the 49ers the top grade of the draft, and he’s not alone in singing the praises of Trent Baalke and the front office staff.
They filled nearly all of their major needs while still adding luxury selections at positions they were strong at. They replenished their 2015 draft by acquiring new fourth- and seventh-round picks to replace the picks they traded away for Stevie Johnson and Jonathan Martin.
While it’s silly to grade a draft before any players have even seen a minicamp, it feels like the 49ers have put together a class with the potential to become one of their best ever. The 49ers moved up and down the draft board to come down with the players they wanted at positions of good value.
This slideshow will attempt to rank the 49ers’ 12 draft choices from best to worst before they ever take a snap. There are three elements that go into this ranking:
- The talent level of the players. Obviously, the better a player is expected to be in the NFL, the better the pick is.
- The need for San Francisco. Taking a player who will fill a need is better than taking an equivalent player at a position the team’s already set at.
- The value of the selection. All things being equal, finding a talented player who’s slid in the draft is better than reaching for a player before the consensus had him going.
It’s obviously a bit of a subjective ranking—until a player takes the field, there’s no way to have anything like a fact-based ranking of how good a pick was.
With those caveats in place, let’s take one final look at all 12 draft choices.