Saturday, May 7, 2011

Grading the 49ers Draft: Pt. 1 of 2

Well, as I said at the end of our last post, at the end of the draft, I wanted to take a while to sit back and assess things, not to mention take a break from hour-after-hour updates. But anyway, after about a week's recollection, I still have the same consensus, the 49ers certainly could have done better in this draft.

First off, I don't at all dislike Aldon Smith as a player, and since they've drafted him, I think he was a good choice for that pass-rushing outside linebacker position. That was a position of need and the 49ers filled it. Smith is a guy who should be able to come in and start right away, and have an impact like Willis did, or he could go the Lawson route, we don't know. What we do know, is that the 49ers need a starting QB for next year and a starting CB and as good as Aldon Smith is, I think the Amakamura kid is a better cover-man and can be a Nahmdi Asomogha-type. Also, big-armed Blaine Gabbart was the best, most pure thrower in the draft, a Peyton Manning, Phil Rivers-potential guy but they passed on him too. He's a guy who's succeeded against NFL-type College defenses as a Sophomore and had a rating of 140 and 27 TD's... Back to Smith, who had an exceptional Frosh season with 11.5 sacks, but then played hurt last year and recorded just 5.5, and that's something that has to be a little concerning. So, I guess to some things up on the 1st rounder, I like Aldon Smith and I do think he'll provide that pass rush, but there were a couple of others I would have chosen over him.

Day two was kind of a roller coaster. They took Colin Kaepernick in the 2nd round, and I really liked this choice immediately, unlike the the Aldon Smith pick. I was thinking he'd go at the end of the first round in the QB frenzy, and I liked Andy Dalton just about as much, so I would have been fine with either. But they got Kaepernick who we know get to get behind and disect. The kid comes in with tremendous tools and resume as he set the NCAA record with 10,000 passing yards and 4,000 rush yards. Just think of the type of athlete you have to be in order to do that! Because of that ability to move, as well as make the throw on the move, I liken him to Steve Young a little bit, and even though he has some learning to do (which rookie QB doesn't), I actually think he'll be ready to start by mid-season (if needed), rather than 2012, so that's why the 49ers may be so intent on bring back Alex Smith. He's keeping the seat warm while Kaepernick learns the rigors for a few months. Looking back at the draft as a whole, without Kaepernick, if they take some no-name O-Lineman, this draft would have been a complete and utter failure. As much potential as Aldon Smith has and value Kendal Hunter may bring, it was the Kaepernick pick that saved this draft. Here is a pretty cool link with a long scouting report and some video on the new 49er QB.

Now after those two picks, things got dicey in my opinion. The 49ers started to reach. The 49ers took a project defensive back, half safety/half cornerback, Chris Culliver out of South Carolina in the 3rd round when there was uber-amounts of talent still up on the board (Johnny Patrick, CB Curtis Marsh, WR Vincent Brown, CB Josh Thomas, T Marcus Cannon even WR Leonard Hankerson just to name a few of the ones I would have targeted). One of the 49ers most pressing needs coming in was a good cover corner, and they didn't get him in the first round and when Johnny Patrick was still there when they picked 16th in the 3rd round, I almost could have guaranteed you it was going to be him. I know about the ridiculous incident with the woman and the cell phone last summer, and the MCL flare (though Culliver's injury was much more serious which caused him to miss most of last year) that caused him to miss most combine workouts. That guy just got better and better each year and had a huge senior season. He's a guy who can probably start right away. But they went Culliver instead, a project who's the same size, but faster and can jump higher than Patrick, I guess. I even liked Curtis Brown, Josh Thomas and Brandon Hogan better than Culliver. I didn't even think he was a possibility (never even heard of him) as he was projected as a later round pick. After watching some video and reading about him, he does possess solid qualities (physical/athletic specimen with speed), so I see what the Niners saw in him, but why not draft him in the 5th round like they could have. They didn't get their corner in the 1st round, but still had a chance to get a top-5 corner in this draft and passed on him because of the "height/weight/speed/leap obsession" the 49ers showed in this draft. I hope I'm wrong but I think this pick is a strikeout and a flat F if it's getting a grade!

More to Come: The response was so long that we had to break it into two parts. Part 2 with the actual draft grade and more draft talk to be posted tomorrow, so do return!

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