NFL Draft

Why skill positions are riskiest 49ers draft picks and O-line is best

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The 2024 NFL Draft is here, and the 49ers, for the first time in three years, have a first-round selection.

San Francisco's roster is one of, if not the best in the league, with very few holes, which should allow general manager John Lynch and Co. to select the best players available each time they're on the clock throughout Rounds 1 through 7.

However, in the first round Thursday night, the 49ers might want to avoid some positions.

ESPN's Paul Hembekides charted every single first-round pick made from 2000 to 2019, calculating the percentage of "hit" or "miss" selections based on whether or not the player received a second contract from the team that originally drafted them, and the results were revealing.

The three positions with the highest hit rate all are on the offensive line, with skill positions such as wide receiver, tight end and running back having three of the bottom four hit rates.

Since 2017, when Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan took over, the 49ers have "hit" on only one first-round pick: star defensive end Nick Bosa, who -- with a potential contract extension for wide receiver and 2020 first-rounder Brandon Aiyuk still a possibility -- is the only player drafted by San Francisco to sign a second contract with the team over the last eight years.

The 49ers could go in several directions with the No. 31 pick Thursday. Experts' mock drafts have had San Francisco selecting offensive and defensive linemen, cornerbacks and wide receivers over the past few weeks leading up to the draft.

The data shows offensive line is a much safer position to target than wide receiver and defensive backs. However, if you have as talented and balanced of a roster as the 49ers do, you certainly can afford to take more risks.

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