It was just a matter of time. The San Francisco 49ers having 12 draft picks were certainly in the market for a young quarterback to groom. They found that signal-caller in the sixth-round (No. 207) with the selection of QB Jeff Driskel. At 6-4, 234, Driskel is the prototypical quarterback with NFL intangibles that scouts love.
He’s intelligent, fundamentally sound, and mobile. One area I feel QB Colin Kaepernick could improve on is going via his progressions. Driskel has that box checked. Aside from being poised inside the pocket, Driskel has all the physical tools to excel at the next level.
His quick release in the short-to-intermediate passing game is deadly accurate, he can extend plays with his legs [while keeping head up], and his willingness to take a hit when under duress are intangibles that HC Chip Kelly can work with.
“With a quarterback it’s like a tea bag, you don’t know what you have until you put it in hot water,” Kelly told Philadelphia Eagles media back in 2013.
The last time the 49ers drafted a quarterback from Louisiana Tech was QB Tim Rattay in the seventh-round (No. 212) of the 2000 NFL Draft. The probability for a late-round player to land a starting spot is slim to none, but don’t count out Driskell. “I think that I’m a rare talent. I think that my ability doesn’t come around every day,” Driskell told beat writers just moments after his selection.
Time will tell. However, I think it’s safe to say that this signals the end of QB Dylan Thompson and QB Thad Lewis as they have just been put on notice. Coach Kelly got his new toy.
Just four picks later (No. 211), the 49ers found themselves on the clock and stayed on the offensive with the selection of Florida RB Kelvin Taylor.
A diminutive runner with deceptive speed, Taylor will likely be fighting for the No. 4 running back role with former Australian Rugby League RB Jarryd Hayne. The team already has depth with RB Carlos Hyde, RB Shaun Draughn, and last year’s fourth-round pick RB Mike Davis. Those are sure locks.
The team rarely keeps more than 5 backs on their roster (including fullback) so Taylor (son of RB Fred Taylor) will have to make a splash on special-teams if he wants to secure a roster spot.
I asked Taylor if he had spoken to former teammate OT Trent Brown after being selected by the Forever Faithful. “Trent just texted me, that’s crazy. He texted me like five minutes ago, he said, ‘Man, you’re out here with me now. So let’s get back to the Florida Gator days,” Taylor said.
Two picks later, the 49ers again were on the clock, and once again, stayed on the offensive with the selection of Michigan State WR Aaron Burbridge. Not surprising considering Burbridge comes from a basketball background-Baalke loves this type of athlete. Baalke believes that basketball helps form good habits including spacing and separation which is true to a certain degree.
Will Burbridge make the roster? It’s a toss up. The team already has WR Torrey Smith, WR Quinton Patton, WR Bruce Ellington, and WR DeAndre Smelter. That leaves one roster spot open, two at the most.
#49ers GM Trent Baalke on what he looks for in CB: “What we’re trying to stay away from is 5-8 guys, 5-9 guys.”
— Ryan Sakamoto (@SakamotoRyan) April 17, 2015
The 49ers draft class ended with the selection of a prince. Yes, I’m talking about seventh-round pick (No. 249) CB Prince Charles Iworah. A workout warrior in terms of measurables as Iworah knocked out an impressive 25 reps on the bench, Baalke went against his own drafting philosophy and took a chance on a ‘vertically challenged’ cornerback. “We try to stay away from 5-8, 5-9, cornerbacks,” Baalke told me during last year’s annual pre-draft meeting.