Saturday, April 28, 2012

NFL Draft Day 3, 49ers Trade Down Again

Well, the 49ers were apparently so enamored with their first two selections, that they felt as if they didn't need a third rounder in this year's draft. After taking A.J. Jenkins in the first round, and LaMichael James in the 2nd, the 49ers traded down into the 4th round to finally choose their first offensive guard, Joe Looney out of Wake Forest.

A.J. Jenkins Introduced
It was obvious heading into this offseason, when your fastest offensive player is your Tight End, you have to improve team speed. With their first two picks, the 49ers tackled that problem, and some. They added arguably the most explosive, quick backs in the draft, albeit an undersized commodity, and a WR that after doing my homework on, almost reminds me of a young Jerry Rice. Jenkins is a super smooth route-runner and has big-time speed. One draft site had him as his NFL upside being Greg Jennings, and that shows you exactly what type of player he should develop into. I've watched plenty of video on him and have been nothing but impressed with the game film. The dude always seems to get open, finds soft-spots in zone coverage and has no trouble beating DB's off the line with his 4.3 speed. And while watching some of that film, especially the dominant game vs. Northwestern, and watching this kid run routes and catch the ball and go, he really reminds me a lot of Jerry Rice. He's got a similar build, though a tad smaller than Rice, he is faster. He's got incredible hands that catch everything they touch and revealed his nickname of E.T. because of his long alien like fingers and huge paws. After being somewhat dumbfound after hearing his name called at 30 while guys like Stephon Hill, Ruben Randle and Janoris Jenkins were sitting there, I'm starting to really come around on this pick, and I've made no bones about my liking the choice of LaMichael James in round 2. I mean, even if James doesn't quite pan out, the 49ers are taking chances on guys that could be explosive football players. James' downside is that he becomes another Kendal Hunter-type C.O.P. back, but his upside is so much more than that, and I'm glad the 49ers saw that.

Raiders Pick Miles Burris in 4th
Across the Bay, the Raiders didn't get the luxury of having a top-2 round pick, as we all know where those went, but they did get a few nice pieces in round 3 and 4 that have some upside. We talked about Bergstrom yesterday, as he's a big tough, versatile O-lineman that does not shy away from any defender. With their 2nd pick of the draft, the Raiders went linebacker Miles Burris out of San Diego St. Burris is strong pass-rusher who collected 9.5 sacks last season, and is adept at bringing heat from the outside. He's also got flexibility to drop back into coverage and has a thick lower-body, which allows him to really drive into his tackles. I'm not sure he'll come right in and play a bunch on defense right off the bat, but he could provide some competition in camp and will surely be a contributor on special teams. The Raiders and the 49ers each still have a 5th round choice remaining, and we'll keep you posted with notes below as the picks come in throughout the day, with brief comments on each player. Of course, we'll review both teams drafts after the thing finishes up, but for know, I still see some quality prospects on the board, including CB Chase Minnifield and G Brandon Washington, who each were expected to go as high as round 2.

5th Round:


Jack Crawford, DE, Penn State- Raiders take another edge defender and deepen their D-Line. Crawford has the ability to get to the QB, but is a tad undersized and needs to add some muscle to be a factor.

Juron Criner, WR, Arizona: I really like this choice for the Raiders at the end of round 5. Criner had a big senior year as Nick Foles prime target, catching 75 balls for 900 yards and 11 TD's vs. premium talent in the Pac-12. I think the Raiders were hoping Cal WR Marvin Jones would fall to them, but he went just 2 picks before they choose. Great value pick this deep in the draft though, as I think the 6'4", 215 pounder will be a nice target for Carson and could be the Raiders choice to make the most impact in year one.


Darius Flemming, OLB, Notre Dame: With talented CB Chase Minnifield still on the board, I thought the 49ers would add to their Defensive backfield here, but they choose Flemming, who's a ball-hawk, but a bit of a tweener and doesn't project out to be much more than a special teams contributor and backup linebacker. Again, very surprised they didn't go Minnifield here, especially seeing the success they've had with mid-round CB's in recent drafts (Tarrell Brown, Chris Culliver). They pick again in just 15 picks, so maybe he'll last till then. Also, G Brandon Washington, projected 2nd rounder, is still out there for the taking.

6th/7th Rounds


Trenton Robinson, FS, Michigan St.: Robinson was ranked by NFP as the third best Free Safety in this years class. He's a little bit small (5'10", 195) but plays bigger, is a 3-year starter and has produced at  He's adept in coverage and displayed ability to come up and help stop the run. He met a need to as the 49ers were currently sitting with just 3 safeties under contract. Not a bad pick but still wish they would have gotten the strong Virgina corner, Chase Minnifield or Miami guard Brandon Washington. They select again in later this round, so they could still end up with one of these guys, as they represent the best value for the 49ers IMO.

Jason Slowey, T, Western Oregon: Well, the 49ers choose to go O-line again, as the player taken immediately after Slowey was the guy I was hoping they'd choose under these circumstances, Miami's Brandon Washington. I also wonder what they would have done had Miami WR Tommy Streeter had fallen to them. He's a bigger, stronger wideout (6'5", 226 pounds) that is a prime red-zone guy, but they take another O-lineman I'm unfamiliar with. 

Cam Johnson, DE/OLB, Virgina: Now this is a guy I mentioned as a possibility as high as round 3-4, so on that basis alone, I love the pick. He's a bit of a tweener at 6'5" 270, but has the frame to easily add 25 pounds and be a down D-End at the NFL level. He's got plus-pass rush ability (11 sacks in 22 games in Jr./Sr. seasons as D-End), and I think the 49ers saw some shades of Aldon Smith, similar size and attributes, when watching his game film and had ecstatic he fell to them in the 7th.


Christo Bilukidi, DT, Georgia State: Don't know anything about him, as he's the first player drafted from Georgia State into the NFL. Supposedly athletic and has good size at 6'3", 310 pounds.

Nathan Stupar, LB, Penn St.: With the Raiders final pick of the 2012 Draft, they choose little known LB Nathan Stupar, another guy I never heard of before hearing his name called today. Supposedly he was an over-looked talent in the mess that went through Penn St. last season, and could challenge for linebacking depth, but I think he's got special teams written all over him at slender, yet powerful and agile 6'1" and 230 pounds.

So concludes our pick-by-pick analysis of the 2012 NFL draft. Great way to end the draft for the 49ers with a nice prospect late, and there are still a number of top-100 prospects that didn't even go, so be ware of potential UDFA's over the next few days for both the Raiders and 49ers. We'll have a whole post dedicated to those guys tomorrow as the dust settles on the draft and we have some prospective.

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