Assessing the 49ers’ and Raiders’ expected returns from the 2016 draft

When Trent Baalke daydreams about the 49ers’ 2016 draft class, what does he hope to get from the players he took? Which former players’ careers does Baalke wish his draft picks will emulate? Here are my best guesses. And remember, I’m trying to think like Baalke.

DeForest Buckner: Calais Campbell. Interior rushers who could average roughly seven sacks per season the next few years.

Joshua Garnett: Zack Martin. Powerful, athletic blockers who could be the catalysts for their teams’ running games the next few years.

Will Redmond: Fred Smoot. Sub-six-foot corners from Mississippi State who excel in man coverage. Baalke was a scout for the Redskins when they drafted Smoot in 2001.

Rashard Robinson: Champ Bailey. Six-foot-one corners from the SEC who are extremely fast for their size. Bailey was Washington’s No. 1 corner all three years Baalke worked there as a scout.

Ronald Blair: Vinny Curry. Strong, explosive, undersized defensive tackles who blow past guards on third down.

John Theus: Jonathan Martin. Athletic offensive tackles who needs to get significantly stronger.

Fahn Cooper: Adam Snyder. Versatile offensive linemen who need to get significantly stronger.

Jeff Driskel: Blaine Gabbert. Big quarterbacks who run well, but struggle to throw accurate downfield passes.

Kelvin Taylor: Frank Gore. Mid-sized running backs who lack breakaway speed, but squeeze through tight holes at the line of scrimmage and string cuts together downfield.

Aaron Burbridge: Jarvis Landry. Tough wide receivers who make contested catches in traffic.

Prince Charles Iworah: Darryl Morris. Short, fast cornerbacks who will make an impact on special teams.


For fun, let’s try to guess which former players’ careers Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie wishes his draft picks will emulate.

Karl Joseph: Troy Polamalu. Small-ish strong safeties who run fast and hit extremely hard.

Jihad Ward: Red Bryant. Giant defensive ends who stop the run on first and second down.

Shilique Calhoun: Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila. Explosive, under-sized edge-rushers who struggle against the run.

Connor Cook: Chad Henne. Competent backup quarterbacks who are talented enough to play if the starter gets hurt.

DeAndre Washington: Maurice Jones-Drew. Short, muscular running backs who have exceptional elusiveness and breakaway speed.

Cory James: Ben Heeney. Inside linebackers who run 4.6 40s while weighing roughly 230 pounds.

Vadal Alexander: Kelechi Osemele. Giant guards who can drive back players directly in front of them.

This article has 76 Comments

  1. Grant

    Thanks for the visitation into TB’s daydream of what’s old…what’s new…Like TB, I’m pretty satisfied with who we have now….even more satisfied if we include some of the behemoths in our UDFA group.

  2. Why would Baalke hope his draft picks turn out to be like Jonathan Martin, Adam Snyder, or Blaine Gabbert? Couldn’t you come up with better best case scenarios for those picks? It seems like you momentarily forgot the premise.

      1. At least he doesn’t have to worry about getting his heart broken, because Gabbert had only one suitor. Trent John Baalke

        1. Why do you think that Prime? I think Baalke was ready to let him walk two years prior before Harbaugh convinced him to stay, and I doubt he would have traded him to KC if he really didn’t want to.

          1. My guess is Smith suited what Baalke was building. Run the ball, play great defense and don’t turn it over.
            Then after the switch the blue print got fuzzy.
            CK was a complete 180 from Smith. The Niners then tried to change him to something he wasn’t and it affected other moving parts.
            Smith was the good soldier and he was slightly cheaper presumably.
            Yes JH convinced him to stay and when he finally turned the corner it was a miracle.
            Then CK came on the scene and showed he was dynamic. Harbaugh convinced Baalke they needed more from the QB position and it was CK.
            That might have been the start of the riff between front office and Harbaugh.
            I don’t have proof of this but it could make total sense. Maybe why a guy like Gabbert who is eerily close to a Smith clone, is being highly touted by the 49ers!

            1. And maybe why they structured CK’s contract the way they did, with very little guaranteed and now the alleged back stabbing!

            2. It’s possible Prime, but I never got a sense that Baalke thought that highly of Smith. Everyone was happy Smith was able to play well within Harbaugh’s offense, but I would guess Baalke was thinking what most others were when Kap came in which was that the offense would be far more explosive with him than with Smith, which it was. Coming off the SB appearance I can’t see any way Baalke was against going with Kap and getting picks for Smith. That would be something he would jump at knowing how much he values draft picks.

              1. I don’t think it was so much who was better. At the time it looked to be a no brainer but now different story.
                My speculation is Harbaugh was all in with CK too early and the front office really had no choice but to go along with what their HC wanted.
                All I’m saying is after the regression in CK’s play, that might have been the start of the riff between Baalke/York and Harbaugh.
                The trade worked out for the Niners but at the time and now they had no choice and I don’t believe they were all in with CK as much as it seemed.
                Don’t you think it seems like they now don’t want nothing to do with him?

              2. Prime,

                Honestly I think trading Smith was driven more by Baalke than Harbaugh Think about it from Harbaugh’s perspective for a minute: He has a young QB who just exploded on the scene backed up and tutored by a Vet who can also play and win in the system. Why would Harbaugh want to trade Smith in that situation? Having two viable QB’s is a HC’s dream and we know he also liked Smith personally. There is little reason to think he was behind trading Smith, especially when you consider Baalke had the final say on personnel and would cut off his left arm to garner a draft choice. Maybe this was a reason a rift started but because Harbaugh didn’t want to trade Smith. Just thinking about it from a different angle.

                As to your last sentence, it does seem at times they want nothing to do with Kap, but there are also the interviews with Baalke where he states they want Kap to be here and think he can be effective in this system. If you truly don’t want a player I don’t think you would be saying things like that, and you certainly wouldn’t have taken the hard line to keep him the way the Niners have. When you commit to paying somebody this kind of money, there has to be some interest in the player imo. How much we don’t know, but right now they have one veteran QB signed beyond this year and it isn’t Gabbert.

              3. Rocket,

                You seem to be forgetting the overarching fact that Smith didn’t want to be here, after he lost his job.

              4. Rocket,

                You seem to be forgetting the overarching fact that Smith didn’t want to stay, after he lost his job.

  3. Uncle Buck – Justin Smith
    Garnett – Iupati
    Redmond – Roby
    Robinson – Talib
    Blair Fifth Project – Nkemdiche
    Theos – Boselli
    Cooper – Mikey Remmers
    Driskel – Mariota
    Taylor – Gore is good
    Burbridge – Landry good
    Iwora – Darrell Green

    1. Razor,

      Baalke could have been seeing this type of talent in his picks. it would explain a lot and not in a good way.

    2. Razor – Good spot on the Darrell Green comp. I think Green was Iwora’s college position coach.

      1. Whatever works!

        The talent is there. Lets just hope he gets his head on straight like Aaron Lynch appears to have done.

    1. I’m sure the kid has a lot of talent, but that isn’t the question here. It’s about his off field behavior, intelligence and lack of muscle. He has to answer for a lot of red flags.

      1. Of course his off field issues are a big question mark about him. That is why he hasn’t played for 18 months and was available in the 4th round.

        But if you are wondering what Trent Baalke sees in Robinson, this article outlines a lot of it. He’s a gamble pick, no way of getting around that fact. But the upside is pretty high.

        1. What Baalke sees is often the problem though. He has made numerous picks that haven’t worked out because there are two many outlying problems whether it be injuries or not enough of a resume in this case. Maybe the guy does work out, but seeing how much trouble the kid has had up to this point it is a long shot that didn’t need to be taken, especially in light of all the failures Baalke has endured lately.

            1. Scooter,

              I know you are tired of hearing it and I get that, but it’s it’s like the team is in a holding pattern until he’s out of here. It feels like the dawn of another Erickson to Singletary stretch to me. It’s tough to move past it, but I will eventually.

              1. I just miss the rocket who occasionally had some positive things to talk about. :-)

              2. Choosing not to view the world through rose colored glasses doesn’t necessarily make you a pessimist.

          1. Robinson’s listed places at 6’1/6’2/6’3, he’s 20 years old, he’s been timed twice sub-4.3 (4.29 & 4.28), and he was touted by the DB coaches at LSU as their best DB; this is the staff that coached Peterson, Reid, and Mathieu.

            GMs are supposed to take sure things in Rds 1-3 and look for hidden talent in Rds 4-7. That’s why ESPN stated that this was a home run, and why Robinson is already being mentioned in some circles as the potential steal of the draft.

            Baalke has as poor a track record as anybody with the job description of “Manager,” but this was a super draft pick for the 49ers. Anyone who says otherwise is just salty.

      2. You’d have crap on Dieon Sanders because his run defense (lack of muscle) was problem, wouldn’t you?

        I don’t care if the guy can’t hit and is a drag-down trackler if he can lock down half the field. He’s big enough to tackle WRs and that’s what matters.

        In short, focus on what’s important vs the 15 shoddy tackles a year he may have to make in the run game.

    2. You beat me to it Scoot…

      Interesting article. Seems very similar to the Aaron Lynch pick, I wonder if would have been available in the 5th, like Lynch. Obviously they had him rated high on their board. It’ll be interesting to see this kid develop, definitely needs some T-bone steaks before he hits the field.

  4. Baalke is coming back the next few years I don’t care what happens.

    The owner/CEO of the team is his best friend and represents his wishes well.

    I don’t kown why people keep thinking Baalke is on the hot seat.

    No way no how.

    He wins every front office battle and comes out on top.

      1. I’d fire Baalke if the season ends with 7 or fewer wins.
        We were 8-8, and we fire Harbaugh. 5-11, and we got rid of Tomsula.
        Baalke needs to show more results with his draftees and free agent moves.

        With the weird man love that Jed has for Baalke, it’s tough to tell if he’d fire him though.

  5. DeForest Buckner: Arik Armstead
    Twin Towers on the field. Bedrock in the locker room.

    Joshua Garnett: Mike Iupati
    Mean, powerful run-blockers. Garnett has the mental makeup to go to the HOF.

    Will Redmond: Janoris Jenkins
    Undersized CBs with makeup speed and elite ball skills, but questionable due to other concerns.

    Rashard Robinson: Richard Sherman
    Different dispositions, same athleticism. Robinson is still growing, and is faster than Sherman, but Sherman plays the ball in the air better than any CB in the league.

    Ronald Blair: Michael Bennett
    Multi-position, multi-faceted, multi-talented explosive, undersized defensive linemen who impact every down.

    John Theus: Adam Snyder
    Versatile, smart utility player who is never quite good enough to hold it down.

    Fahn Cooper: Laremy Tunsil
    Beastly, inconsistent strongman who filled in admirably for the much more polished, but troubled, Tunsil.

    Jeff Driskel: Marcus Mariota
    This is so obviously Chip Kelly’s pick, that it only makes sense to compare him to Chip’s best quarterback, who just so happens to share Driskel’s size/weight/speed measurables almost exactly.

    Kelvin Taylor: Frank Gore (AGREED)
    Mid-sized running backs who lack breakaway speed, but squeeze through tight holes at the line of scrimmage and string cuts together downfield.

    Aaron Burbridge: Jarvis Landry (AGREED) (I think you took this from me)
    Tough wide receivers who make contested catches in traffic.

    Prince Charles Iworah: Will Redmond
    Short, fast cornerbacks who can cover the slot and impact the game on 3rd & 4th downs. Prince William is insurance for Redmond, expendable if the ACL player busts.

    1. Not bad. Not bad at all. I especially like the fact you recognized Snyder for what he was — great utility back-up, but never quite ‘all that and a bag of chips’ as they say…

      1. Remember a lot of people thinking the same thing about Harold last year…myself included.

        “Any draft pick after the second round could be a draft steal for the 49ers” There, that’s a lot safer and it’s just as true.

        1. It must be rough to ALWAYS have a half empty glass… you always sound like eeyore. I’m pissed at Baalke too, but I try to have at least a little optimism.

  6. It is amazing how few people have commented so far on the most glaring weakness on the 49ers. They do not have a go to #1 wide receiver. There is a #2 receiver (Torrey Smith) and a bunch of stiffs who will be hard pressed to make the roster on just about any other team.

    The fact that Baalke has not addressed the WR position on either the free agency or the draft is a puzzler to me. Does he not realize that today’s NFL is a passing league. No team in recent memory has gone deep in the playoffs with such a mediocre WR corp.

    However, I am an eternal optimist and will keep hope alive that Smelter or Burbridge will surprise me. I hope Grant gives us an update soon on how the WR corps is looking in the OTAs.

    1. “No team in recent memory has gone deep in the playoffs with such a mediocre WR corp.”

      Did you happen to catch this little game they showed on TV in February…..called the Super bowl???

      1. I am not sure I get your point. The Broncos had Emmanuel Sanders and Demariyus Thomas on the team last year. The Niners have nobody even close to Sanders and Thomas on their roster.

          1. Greg Olsen was used more like a receiver than a Tight End. 77 catches for 1100 yards is more like WR than TE numbers.

            Moreover, Corey Brown, Ted Ginn, Jerricho Cotchery, and Devin Funches, are still a better WR core than those on the Niner roster this year. And, they lost their best receiver Kelvin Benjamin before the start of the season.

            1. Tell me how someone who usually lines up as an on-the-line blocker is used as a WR?

              Moreover, we all know the vast credentials and stats guys like Brown, Ginn, Cotchery, and Funchess carry with them. Quite the track record for all those guys.

              And Benjamin should obviously be mentioned since he played zero downs last season.

              1. Look, all I am saying is the Niners have a mediocre WR core on the roster. Seems you agree with me on that point. I withdraw my statement on teams going deep in the playoffs with mediocre WRs. Let’s leave it at that.

                As for Benjamin, my point was that the Panthers had Benjamin on the roster going into the season. The Niners have nobody on the current roster even close to Benjamin.

            2. Leo is saying the Panthers went deep into the playoffs with a mediocre WR core and he’s right. The Seahawks and 49ers also went deep into the playoffs with mediocre WR cores. It’s not ideal, but you can win in the playoffs without top WR talent if you have a dominating defense and running game.

              1. Exactly what I was getting at Rocket. And I remembered the hawks after I posted my comment as well. Which they still have yet to address high in the draft. As for the Niners, yes they were Mediocre, though they did have experience at least. I don’t doubt that we don’t currently have talent at WR on the team, but we have a whole lot of question marks that’s for sure.

                Chip seemed to value WRs in his system, with the high draft picks he dedicated to the position. I wonder if he felt like there was a lot of talent at the position that just needed to be groomed, or were there just too many holes on this team that needed to be addressed first?

              2. Rickety

                Are you going to argue with me when I point out that the word you intended to use was “corps”?

              3. No Pork, that was a mistake I take full responsibility for. Just a brain cramp from the thought process to the keyboard.

    2. I agree. Smelter and Rogers may be the reason why Baalke went defense and O line for the draft.

      I also think Bruce Ellington may have a good year, with more fly sweeps and quick slants.

      1. I hope you are right about Ellington. However, I just don’t have a lot of trust in small sized receivers. They might break an occasional fly sweep or a quick slant for a long gainer, but overall they will have a lot more negative yardage plays. Also, these smaller guys will never go over the middle where the fast middle linebackers roam so it is fairly easy for a defense to nullify them.

        I am partial to receivers 6 Ft 2 inch or taller with 4.3 or better speed. Of course, such players don’t grow on trees…

        1. I agree with you about Burbridge. He may be a sleeper, and surprise a lot of people. While studying Cook, I saw that Burbridge really stood out.

        2. Rick,

          They don’t grow on trees? Yeah, you could say that. They also don’t grow on vines, bushes, or pretty much anywhere else. The list of NFL WR’s who were / are 6′-2″ with 4.3 or better speed has got to be very short.

          Only one name comes immediately to mind, and that’s Randy Moss.

    1. Quite a career for him to emulate. Theus should hope to be that great. And you know Baalke is just sitting at his desk right now, daydreaming about having another J-Mart.

  7. Rashard Robinson

    6014, 4.43, 4.44 shuttle, 7.31 cone drill

    Xavier Rhodes

    6014, 4.43, 4.65 shuttle, 7.29 cone drill

  8. Jimmie Ward

    5105, 4.47, 4.24 shuttle, 6.89 cone drill

    Mackensie Alexander

    5103, 4.49, 4.21 shuttle, 7.18 cone drill

  9. Devon Cajuste

    6036, 4.57, 4.20 shuttle, 6.49 cone drill

    Riley Cooper

    6033, 4.56, 4.15 shuttle, 6.73 cone drill

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