Grading the 49ers fifth-round pick: LB Dre Greenlaw

North outside linebacker Dre Greenlaw of Arkansas (36) before the start of the Senior Bowl college football game, Saturday, Jan. 26, 2019, in Mobile, Ala. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)

SANTA CLARA — The 49ers just drafted Arkansas linebacker Dre Greenlaw with the 10th pick in Round 5. Let’s break down the positives and negatives of this pick.


  • Played in the SEC.
  • Recorded 321 tackles in four seasons.
  • Former strong safety.
  • Experience playing zone coverage.


  • Weak-side linebacker who doesn’t fill a need on the defense. Will backup Kwon Alexander.
  • The 49ers already had a quality backup inside linebacker, Elijah Lee.
  • Poor run defender.
  • Probably will play only special teams unless Alexander gets injured.
  • gave Greenlaw a seventh-round grade, and CBS ranked him 307 overall.
  • Injury prone. Missed six games in 2016 with a broken foot. Missed three games in 2017 with a high-ankle sprain. Has a hamstring injury at the Combine and didn’t run the 40-yard dash.


All of the decent defensive backs have been picked already, so I understand the 49ers drafting another position. But, they probably should have taken someone they couldn’t have signed as an undrafted free agent. Big reach. Mack Wilson, a better linebacker than Greenlaw, got taken seven picks later.

This article has 122 Comments

  1. Will be interesting to see if he makes the team. Gonna have to be on special teams.

    Grant, what are your thoughts on Corey Ballentine, CB, Washburn in the 6th?

    1. Agree it will be interesting to see if he makes the cut. Trading down for a camp body will bring the 49ers drafting record to new levels.

  2. Special teams and a back up. But that’s what you expect after the 4th Round.

    Why do you believe Greenlaw would have been an Undrafted Free Agent?

  3. Dre has good football instincts and has sideline to sideline speed. Personally, he has overcome a lot in his life. He was a ward of the state , was adopted, and went on to make a name for himself in Arkansas High School Football. He played on a crappy Hogs team , but was one of the best on the field, when healthy. He is undersized for a line backer and that leads me to question his durability at this level. Not sure why they drafted him this high, should be a special teamer. Grant do you think there is any chance they try to make him a strong safety, given his size and speed?

      1. Nick, Where did you find your stats? I read it was 4.53 . I am not saying you are wrong. I watched him play college ball. He was great at chasing down outside zone runs/jet sweeps, etc and it pretty decent in man coverage. I am not saying this dude is some absolute stud LB, he struggled against down hill runners, and he was graded lower than we took him. Just happy for the guy that he got his name called and is a good character dude on our team.

    1. Big niner,
      Maybe Shanahan see’s the possibility of a Mark Barron type player who could slide between LB and Safety.

      There’s going to be a ton of questions and critics on this draft class, but like or lump it, we will come out with 3 starters.
      Add this to good FA signings, who knows, the team could be a 8-10 game winner.
      I mean, did anyone here really believe that a player in this draft would put us in the Superbowl in 2019?
      Brick by Brick – Baby!

      1. I think you’re right. They’ll be some positions we’ll have to follow and see where they end up playing. Bottom line is we have fresh blood where it’s needed. Pass rush, cb, lb, wr , ol and punter. Iron sharpens iron right?

  4. Expected them to take a backup LB at some point, so not surprising. Not sure why so many people like Lee, he’s just a guy. Alexander may not be healthy to start the season and they don’t have much depth at the position.

  5. Hey Lynch/Shanny,

    Don’t you think we need some depth at corner??? What if Verrett or Sherman go down??? Then what??? Huh???

      1. Yeast –

        I forgot we hired a new health and performance team. Injuries are a thing of the past now. We don’t need depth at cornerback.

  6. Dagnabbit! Amani Oruwariye was selected 2 picks before the Niners drafted Greenlaw.
    Is Oli Udoh available, still?

            1. Ok. That’s fair. I just thought maybe you had read that somewhere of significance by someone important, football speaking that is. Actually, I didn’t really think that because I know it’s far from the truth. I’d give them a solid B for their entire draft so far. But, you know the old saying. “Opinions are like you know what! Everybody’s got one”! I guess I’m just a glass is half full guy. Always positive. I hate negativity. Unhappy people in general are usually negative. Stay positive my friend.

  7. Jalen Hurd at Tennessee

    Jalen Hurd selected No. 67 by San Francisco 49ers
    by Raju Byfield | 49ers Correspondent | Fri, Apr 26th 9:48pm EDT

    The San Francisco 49ers have selected wide receiver Jalen Hurd with the No. 67 overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. (Around the NFL on Twitter)

    Fantasy Impact:

    “This is a dream landing spot for Jalen Hurd. Landing with a good QB, and a creative offensive play caller was to be key to unlocking his potential. Enter the Jimmy G and Kyle Shanahan. Hurd is a former college running back that converted to a slot receiver after he transferred from Tennessee. Hurd can quickly become one of the most exciting players in the NFL, and has borderline WR2 upside.”

  8. Kaden Smith’s football speed is better than his straight-line speed. I’d rate him better than Dalton Schulz who started several games for Cowboys

    1. Yeah, he was a good pick imo. Tbh, aside from the punter in the 4th I’m not minding the picks on day 3. Nothing amazing, but solid enough.

      1. Big niner,
        Maybe Shanahan see’s the possibility of a Mark Barron type player who could slide between LB and Safety.

        There’s going to be a ton of questions and critics on this draft class, but like or lump it, we will come out with 3 starters.
        Add this to good FA signings, who knows, the team could be a 8-10 game winner.
        I mean, did anyone here really believe that a player in this draft would put us in the Superbowl in 2019?
        Brick by Brick – Baby!

      2. Scooter,
        The MW pick (at 4th rd) was a wet blanket for me, but he does become an immediate starter.
        At the end of the day the real question is, did we improve our team?
        I say yes.

      3. I’m not minding the picks on day 3. Nothing amazing, but solid enough.

        I’m not sure how I’d describe the draft as “amazing” or bust at this point.

        If drafting is about building a team, not just assembling talent (as per Bellichick’s philosophy), then Niners may have done the right thing by getting a starter at the position of need at a draft position close to where they rated the player (they had 184 draftworthy players). I won’t be the first one to observe that contrary to old practice, modern punting is not about booming one for high gross yards but a well-honed art of pinning the opponent’s offense at the other end of the field for high net yards. Clearly they saw him far higher in value to the team based on their evaluation of available DBs.

  9. Poor third day for me. This is the kind of head scratchers that will get you fired in a few years. A punter, round 4? Baalke pulled a stunt and we ended up with an average punter. Very disappointing. This is what happens when you have a weak GM. Too many cooks in the kitchen.

    1. Daniners –

      You’re right…We have Bobby Flay, Gordon Ramsay, Emeril, Rachael Ray & Wolfgang Puck all trying to make a grilled cheese sandwich.

    1. What do you care if someone is negative? You may talk up York’s crew’s moves all you want by you are by far one of the most negative people who dare to write here. Truth is you can’t stand anyone who says negative if they aren’t part or your amen chorus.

  10. Deebo Samuel
    The Huddle
    He’s considered a top-ten prospect for wideouts and may rise as high as the fifth one selected.

    Teams that have had interest in him include 49ers, Chargers, Buccaneers, Bengals, Saints, and Cowboys. Samuel should end up as at least a viable complement to a No. 1 wideout for a team. He has the upside to be more and hasn’t played with elite passing talent so his ceiling cannot be known.

  11. Tim Harris is the 49ers final pick. Tony Pauline had reported the 49ers had a lot of interest so not surprised they take him. Long injury history, but talented and physically gifted player.

  12. Average punter??? What you talking about Willis?? This guy is the best punting prospect in years. My only draw back is his age. 27? As a rookie?
    Well he does have a lot of experience I guess but ten years in the league makes him 37. Not good.

  13. CBS Sports, NFL Draft:

    Tim Harris CB, UVA
    Height: 6-2, Weight: 205

    Harris crushed his pro day workout, and is another prospect who likely landed this late in the draft because of a lengthy injury history. His speed and size combination are what likely got him drafted

  14. OK, draft for the Niners is done.
    Guess I will go out and hack down some weeds. Been interesting, frustrating and enlightening. Hope the Niners can coach up these players, and they can help the team win.

    1. TomD –
      Thanks for the link…Harris might be a 6th round steal. Dude was ripping heads off! I’m not a fan of that music though (muted).

  15. Its PFF, so take it with a grain of salt, but they had Harris as their 117th ranked player with a coverage grade of 87.1 last year and passer rating allowed of 52.0 with a catch rate of 48.7%.

    When healthy, which was rare, he played well. Played a lot of press as well.

    1. He was a good pick. Someone they liked that, because of the injuries had a likelyihood of lasting as long as he did.

  16. I have never seen so much whining in a blog room, and my friend is a longtime browns fan😂😂. Depth at DB? We have 13! How many do you want? How bout we need competition at DB, and those 13 guys will give plenty of competition. I was about to go on a 5 page rant, then I realized I was talking to the puppet master and his puppets. He whines just a much as the others. But none of you face the reality that when it comes to evaluating and football, none of us knows anything. We root for who we want. But if you guys don’t get said player, you throw hissy fits. Some of y’all still need diapers. Good day

    1. Reality Chick –

      Lol we had 8 cornerbacks under contract before we drafted Tim Harris and half of them won’t last long in the NFL.

    2. Are you dismissing my draft grading based on player names I’d heard bandied around by draftniks and fans ?! Shame on you!

      1. Juan – You’re talking about a 4-12 team and you say “Negativity sucks”. You have been a fan and season ticket holder for a long time but a little shy of my years. Surely you remember the Byrds famous song, “Time of The Season”. There is a time for everything and given the 49ers record, just like in the Pre-Walsh years, the time of the season now is Negative until they show they can win. A little objectivity goes a long way towards putting up with us fools. At least make them get to .500 before you call us out.

  17. Hurd and Samuel join a wide receiver group that also includes Dante Pettis, Marquise Goodwin, Kendrick Bourne, Trent Taylor, Jordan Matthews and Richie James.    

    Hmm….can we keep 8 WRs……who is out?

    1. Matthews and Kendrick. They are the most expensive. But training camp injuries will probably sort it out. I’m sure there will be some Undrafted wide receivers coming

    2. One –

      I can’t remember Niners being this loaded at WR going into training camp.
      James has his work cut out for him.

  18. I got Pettis/Samuel/Goodwin/Hurd/Matthews/James as our wr group coming out of training camp. Bourne and Taylor lack the versatility and are left on the outside looking in….

  19. Well, I said previously the 49ers likely don’t see DB as as big a need as most fans or draft pundits. They had used consecutive 3rd rounders on CBs and taken 5 DBs in the previous 2 drafts. Also have added Sherman and Verrett, and have repeatedly said how much they like Ward and Tartt. It was also believed the team had a desire to see what these players looked like with a decent front 7 from multiple reports.

    I am still surprised the only DB addition was a CB with their last pick. But that is more about my own thinking on the state of the secondary. Its not like this wasn’t foreshadowed by the team.

    1. Well, they had a fresh assessment with the opinion of Woods so I guess we trust that the addition of Nick Bosa has the effect they expect it to on the secondary. I want to see some picks back there this season!

    2. They have taken a big time gamble going into training camp with pretty much the same secondary as last year plus Verrett.

      Maybe the thinking is we have the best DLine and pass rush now that can mask the pass defense on the back end.

      1. Your 100% right as usual Prime. Great pass rush equals improved back end. Since the beginnings of football. It’s that simple. At every level. My only complaint is it’s taken the team too many years to re-realize this.

  20. Had to step away for a few hours today. Interesting draft–I’d give it solid B overall. Like the Wishnowsky and Harris selections this afternoon. The UDFA phase is set to ignite in an hour +.

    So, this draft–in addition to free agent acquisitions/trade (and 2018 IR players returning)–should set the stage for a highly competitive training camp and preseason. Starting day roster should be better overall than the ’17 and ’18 rosters.

  21. Cassie Baalke,

    Was looking forward to more draft commentary from Seb….He stepped out with his weed eater—hasn’t been back? I hope it was properly maintained.

    1. Sebbie is conflicted with how this draft played out. No multiple trade-backs yielding 18+ picks. Sebbie was certain that Lynch would read every mock draft/trade-back scenario he (Sebbie) posted–and act on them one way or another.

      Sebbie can take solace in knowing Lynch did have fun–the GM having fun was a key part of Sebbie’s multi-point draft plan.

      1. It was a hoot to see JL refuse to trade back, then panic, and make some trades as if to show he could do that. Wasted the opportunity to leverage that precious number 2 pick into several second round picks. I watched Seattle, and New England trade back and trade up, getting the players they covet, while the Niners were jumping for joy over getting a punter in the 4th round.
        It turned my stomach to see all the injured players chosen because they were good ‘Value’.
        The funniest part was when they said they had to run back to pry the phone away from Paraag.

        1. So, so sad Sebbie… Lynch didn’t follow your script. I weep for you.

          Now, get on with your big projects…will ‘ya?

  22. Tim Harris may be the best pick so far. Not to say he’s the best player or prospect, but the best pick given where he was drafted. He’s a risk given some injuries, but his measurables are fantastic and he had one really productive year. He has a high ceiling and the potential to be a quality starter. He also has the potential to never start. Let’s see where the chips fall.

  23. The team’s biggest weaknesses entering the draft were at big end and “Z” receiver. In the first two rounds, the 49ers filled those needs, with arguably the draft’s top options at both.

    Draft Grade = A

  24. My draft assessment:

    DE Nick Bosa: A
    Helps solidify the DL and gives the defense the ability to once again be a QB’s worst nightmare

    WR Tyshun “Deebo” Samuel: A-
    Gives the offense a much needed upgrade at the position; potential redzone threat given his quickness and route-running

    WR Jalen Hurd: C+
    A raw prospect with only one year at the position, but has an impressive work ethic and the potential to be a top line WR under the tutelage of Wes Welker

    P Mitch Wishnowsky: D-
    He fills a need, has experience kicking in strong winds, won a award as the best punter in 20…oh screw it. HE’S A PUNTER DRAFTED IN THE FOURTH ROUND!!! That just can’t be candy-coated.

    LB Dre Greenlaw: C
    Backup or camp body?

    TE Kaden Smith: B
    Good pickup given where he was taken; mainly a blocking TE who will compete with Celek for TE2

    OT Justin Skule: B
    Versatile OL who will compete with Coleman to be the team’s swing tackle

    DB Tim Harris: A
    Injury-prone CB with the skill set that could lead him to becoming a starter at some point

    Final Grade: B-
    Would be a B, but failing to add competition at FS and SS lowers the grade.

      1. Bosa and Samuel make it an A for me. Those were the only two starting roster spots where we needed a starter except for punter, and we filled that by gaining picks by moving down in round 4. All the rest are just the stocking stuffers for mine….

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