The San Francisco 49ers added nine players to their roster in the 2018 NFL Draft. We break down the Niners’ draft, and discuss each pick’s expected role for the upcoming 2018 season and beyond.
San Francisco 49ers general manager John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan were full of surprises during the 2018 NFL Draft. While the 49ers added a number of talented players at key positions, they avoided the team’s most immediate areas of need — edge rusher and interior offensive line.
Let’s take a look at the last of the San Francisco 49ers’ nine draft picks:
Round 7 – Pick #240: Richie James, WR, Middle Tennessee State
With the San Francisco 49ers’ final pick of the 2018 NFL Draft, Lynch and Shanahan drafted Middle Tennessee State University wide receiver Richie James. James is an exciting player who was very productive at MTSU, averaging 106 catches, nearly 1,500 yards and 10 receiving touchdowns over his first two college seasons.
A versatile athlete, James was also used as a wildcat quarterback, where he amassed 339 yards and four scores during his second college season. Unfortunately, James’ junior season was cut short due to multiple injuries.
James is extremely elusive in the open field, and surprisingly difficult to bring down for a receiver of his stature. MTSU went to great lengths to get the ball into James’ hands, and they certainly reaped the benefits:
The 5-foot-10, 183 pound receiver ran a 4.48 40-yard-dash at the 2018 NFL combine, but only put up six reps on the bench press. Hopefully, James will spend time this offseason in the weight room if he expects to compete against stronger NFL cornerbacks.
At his current size and strength, James projects as a slot receiver, but he has the tools to play outside if he gains strength, especially in Shanahan’s offensive system. Look for the 49ers to test James by giving him the ball in space during the preseason; if his moves are effective against NFL defenders, he may have a role as the Niners’ fifth or sixth receiver in 2018.
Check out how host Brian Peacock’s 49ers Shadow Draft compared to the Niners’ 2018 NFL Draft.
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