How NFL draft experts graded 49ers' nine-pick haul


The 2023 NFL Draft has come and gone, and the 49ers emerged from the fray with nine new players to show for it.

Without any first- or second-round picks, San Francisco selected a group of players who add depth at positions, some who might battle for starting positions this coming season and one third-round kicker to replace veteran Robbie Gould.

The 49ers' first pick came in the third round, where they selected Penn State safety Ji'Ayir Brown No. 87 overall after trading Nos. 102, 164 (fifth round) and No. 222 (seventh round) to the Minnesota Vikings to move up in the draft.

Here's a full list of San Francisco's nine draft selections:

Only a couple of days have passed since the draft's end on Saturday, but it's never too early to look at how the 49ers' haul was rated. Here are the grades San Francisco received from NFL draft experts far and wide:

Mel Kiper Jr., ESPN

Grade (overall): B-

"What a strange class to try to grade. The 49ers entered Day 1 with 11 total picks -- but zero in Rounds 1 or 2. Trades for Trey Lance and Christian McCaffrey depleted their capital. Instant-impact rookies can come from any round, of course, but it's asking a lot to guarantee that any of these guys will play early and often. (And who knows, maybe they found the next Brock Purdy in here somewhere.)

And yet, I like a bunch of these picks, except for kicker Jake Moody (99) in Round 3. I get that it's a need, but that's incredibly early, and I didn't even have him as the best kicker in the class. I had a second-round grade on safety Ji'Ayir Brown (87), so I'm a fan of his potential. Tight end Cameron Latu (101) has upside, and he'll get to learn the ropes from George Kittle. Linebacker Dee Winters (216) went about 60 picks after I thought he would. Brayden Willis (247) is going to make an impact as a rookie special-teamer.

The biggest issue with this class is: Where's the offensive tackle? With Mike McGlinchey gone, is Colton McKivitz really going to be the starting right tackle? That's a miss based on my list of pre-draft needs."

Chad Reuter,

Grade (overall): B-

Day 1 grade: C+
Day 2 grade: B-
Day 3 grade: B+

"The Niners did not have first- or second-round picks after making trades for Trey Lance (still waiting to see if that pays off) and Christian McCaffrey (so far, so good). In the third round, they moved up for the instinctual safety they needed in Brown, bucked conventional wisdom by grabbing the kicker they’re craving in Moody and reached a bit for Latu, a solid tight end.

Luter is a fierce cornerback who will step in for the Niners as a rookie, while Beal will likely back up veterans on the edge. I love Winters and Graham at linebacker, while Bell plays receiver with linebacker-type toughness."


Grade (overall): C-

"Day 2: Brown was a do-it-all safety for the Nittany Lions. He seamlessly went from deep safety to the box to the slot to outside linebacker to mugging the A-gap, and he executed each role at a high level. Brown’s ball skills, in particular, jump off the screen. He secured 10 interceptions across the past two seasons.

Moody produced PFF field goal grades of 90.2 and 91.7 in each of the past two seasons, so the idea that he’s the first kicker drafted makes sense. But the third round is rich for any kicker in this class.

Latu is coming off a season in which he produced a 60.6 PFF receiving grade, a 50.0 run-blocking grade and a low 1.03 yards per route run. He has the size that teams look for at the position, but the production just wasn’t there in 2022.

Day 3: Luter has traits to work with on the outside with above-average length and decent straight-line speed and explosiveness. He took a bit of a step back in 2022 from a production standpoint after allowing just a 27% completion percentage and a 3.9 passer rating in 2021.

Beal’s numbers from his final season in college aren’t going to blow anyone away. He produced a 67.8 PFF grade, won 14.1% of his pass-rushing attempts and made a tackle resulting in a defensive stop on just 6.7% of his run-defense snaps. Special teams will likely be his best path to seeing the field.

Winters played 670 or more snaps in each of the past three seasons but hasn’t produced a PFF grade of 55.0 or higher since the 2020 season. He missed 16.0% of the tackles he attempted this past season.

Willis played an H-back role at Oklahoma that allowed him to excel as a blocker, grading above 80 in both run blocking and pass protection.

Bell averaged 2.57 yards per route run in his final season in college. He struggled in contested catch situations, pulling in a reception on just 16.7% of his contested targets, but did produce a 77.4 PFF receiving grade."

Eric D. Williams,

Grade (overall): C+

"The 49ers had no picks in the first and second round this year and made nine picks overall. Penn State safety Ji'Ayir Brown should compete for time in the secondary and tight end Cameron Latu adds another pass catcher to San Francisco's uber-talented offense. With Robbie Gould too expensive to bring back in free agency, the selection of Michigan kicker Jake Moody raised eyebrows. San Francisco selecting a kicker in the third round is the highest a kicker has been taken in the draft since the Tampa Bay Buccaneers took Roberto Aguayo in the second round of the 2016 draft."

Pete Prisco,

Grade (overall): C-

"Best Pick: Sixth-round pick Dee Winters is a perfect 49ers linebacker. He can run and hit and knows how to find the football. This converted safety will be a good special-teams player as he learns behind the 49ers' special linebacker group.

Worst Pick: Taking kicker Jake Moody in the third round is way too high. I hate that. Kickers come and go, so why not just bring two to camp and let them compete? Haven't teams learned yet from drafting kickers?

The Skinny: They didn't have a first- or second-round pick because of the trade up to draft Trey Lance two years ago and the trade to acquire Christian McCaffrey last year. One out of two isn't bad, I guess. They did have three third-round picks and used them at a variety of spots. Third-round safety Ji'Ayir Brown is a big hitter. I didn't love this draft."

Nate Davis, USA Today

Grade (overall): C+

"They didn't pick before the third round due to the trades that brought QB Trey Lance (bad) and the one for RB Christian McCaffrey (good), though obviously neither move has yet brought a long-awaited sixth Lombardi Trophy. Third-rounders Ji'Ayir Brown (safety) and Jake Moody (kicker) should be important cogs for a mostly loaded team, and spending a premium pick to replace free agent K Robbie Gould isn't all that crazy."

Vinnie Iyer, The Sporting News

Grade (overall): B-

"The 49ers' draft capital didn't start until the third round, so this grade reflects that. Brown and Moody give them immediate impact as contenders, as Brown can start over Tashaun Gipson Sr. next to Talanoa Hufanga and Moody is a bigger leg and needed young upgrade over Robbie Gould."

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Ryan Dunleavy, New York Post

Grade (overall): F

"The 49ers didn’t pick until No. 87 because of trades, but were busy from there because of a league-high seven compensatory picks. Moody was the first kicker taken in the top three rounds since 2016."

Gilberto Manzano, Sports Illustrated

Grade (overall): C+

"San Francisco got it right with Talanoa Hufanga two years ago in the fifth round. Brown has similar traits to Hufanga as a physical playmaker with solid ball skills. With a stacked roster, the 49ers had the flexibility to reach for Moody, the best kicker in the draft. Moody could become a reliable kicker in the NFL, but it’s risky to expect a rookie to make game-winning kicks for a team with Super Bowl aspirations. The 49ers added to their talented defense with Luter and Beal."

Danny Kelly, The Ringer

Grade (overall): C-

"The 49ers were without first and second rounders this year (and were short a third and a fourth) thanks to previous trades for Trey Lance and Christian McCaffrey, so they had little premium capital to work with. But San Francisco ended up picking nine players; my favorite was the third-round selection of Penn State safety Ji’Ayir Brown. The former Nittany Lions star is a rangy, hard-hitting playmaker with excellent instincts—and he gives the 49ers some excellent depth behind Talanoa Hufanga and Tashaun Gipson. The rest of GM John Lynch’s draft class lacked star power, though—and included a third-round kicker—so it’s tough to give the Niners a big grade this year."

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