Despite the fact that we won’t see these players compete until August at the earliest, NFL fans still need an instant grade on how their team did in the draft.
The 49ers had two selections going into Thursday’s first round, first moving back one spot for South Carolina product Javon Kinlaw, before later moving up to No. 25 to nab speedy wideout Brandon Aiyuk from Arizona State.
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Here’s how other NFL experts viewed the 49ers’ moves on Thursday night:
Kinlaw: It's not that I don't like Kinlaw. He has the potential to be a dominant player like Chris Jones of the Chiefs. But is he a better player than DeForest Buckner who they traded for to get the Colts pick? Essentially they replaced Buckner with Kinlaw.
Aiyuk: I love this kid. In this offense he's going to be phenomenal. He's only scratching the surface. When he catches the ball, boom he's gone. He will be an effective player in that offense.
Kinlaw: Kinlaw is a massive, powerful rusher capable of collapsing the pocket from several alignments, but he must fix his technical flaws. If the medicals are clean, this is a great pick. The 49ers wanted more DL talent after trading DeForest Buckner to the Colts, which landed them the extra first-rounder to begin with.
Aiyuk: The 49ers paid a bit of a steep price to move up here for Aiyuk, but he gives them some speed to stretch the field and has an eye-opening wingspan, though he needs polishing. Fascinating move here for GM John Lynch and San Francisco.
Kinlaw: Many expected the Niners to find a replacement for departed wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders here, but that’s not how this organization thinks. Head coach Kyle Shanahan and GM John Lynch understand that as long as they have quality route runners on the field, Shanahan’s play designs can win. Quality route runners can be found in Rounds 2-4, especially with a wide receiver class as deep as this one’s.
Aiyuk: The Niners must absolutely love Aiyuk. The evidence: 1) They are light on mid-round draft capital and presumably wanted to rectify that by trading one of their two first-round picks. 2) Quality receivers can be found later in this draft. 3) Shanahan’s scheme has proven it can work with “good, not great” wide receivers.
And yet, here the Niners are, trading up to pick No. 25 to get the Arizona State star. Scouts liked Aiyuk’s effectiveness operating on the move, which is a key characteristic in Shanahan’s timing-based offense. He also has shown he can align in a variety of positions.
Kinlaw: After moving back just one spot, the 49ers land the perfect replacement for DeForest Buckner, the player they traded away for their original pick at No. 13 overall. In return for a fourth-round pick, the 49ers landed the player they likely would have taken at their original spot. That’s a huge win for a team that has a pair of first-round picks, but no other selections until the fifth round prior to this move. Grade: A
Aiyuk: After moving back one spot and getting their man on defense earlier in the first round, the 49ers use the pick they got in that deal to help them jump up the board and do the same for the offense. Aiyuk is a well-rounded pass-catcher who is a perfect fit for Kyle Shanahan, and will pair well with the versatility of Deebo Samuel. Jimmy Garoppolo needed someone who can quickly develop into a true No. 1 target, and Aiyuk absolutely has the skill set to do it.
Kinlaw: The 49ers made the right move, making a no-risk trade with the Buccaneers to drop down a pick and get a fourth-round selection (No. 117) in return. Then they took a defensive lineman over a wide receiver. The 49ers originally got the 13th pick from the Colts for DeForest Buckner. Kinlaw is the closest comparison to Buckner in this draft. So basically they got a cheaper player to do the same thing. Grade: B
Aiyuk: On a team light on draft picks, the 49ers gave up pick Nos. 31, 117, and 176 to move up six slots. That’s a big gamble for the 49ers. While they don’t have a ton of needs, the back of the first round is deep in wide receivers. Even though there’s something to say about getting the player you covet, the only picks the 49ers have left are Nos. 156, 210, and 217. In regard to the pick itself, this is the type of wide receiver the 49ers needed to get. Aiyuk is an explosive playmaker who can make defenders miss after the catch.