And so the 2009 NFL Draft is officially in our rear view mirror. Things got a bit heated at times (pretty much the entire time after the first round), but that's to be expected this time of year. Unless you're a Raiders fan, most teams' drafts leave some fans happy, some angry and some somewhere in between.
Naturally, the first thing we can do is grade the draft. I decided to wait a day so people could calm down and take a second look at the returns. Some of you will still be angry, but at least you've had a chance to sleep on it. Also, as you can see from the poll, we're including undrafted free agents in this group. While not part of the "draft class," they are a part of the San Francisco 49ers rookie class of 2009. Maybe they get lucky with some of them, maybe not. But we're including them anyways. On to the grades. A grade for the draft as a whole is at the end. And no pluses or minuses here. Just solid grades.
Michael Crabtree, WR - Grade: A
I realize the luck/Al Davis stupidity involved here. But sometimes it's better to be lucky than good. And in this case, the 49ers were exceptionally lucky. Crabtree was pretty close to #1 on my list of all players in the draft, and definitely #1 on the guys I wanted who I thought miiiiight slip to the 49ers. He's a gifted athlete who could be the 49ers #1 receiver before too long.
Obviously most any pick could be a bust, but there was simply no way the 49ers could pass up when Crabtree was dangled before them at #10. I think Michael Oher will end up having a very solid career in the NFL. Nonetheless, when it comes to what he brings to the table, he is no Michael Crabtree. Wide receiver was not a great need for the 49ers, but I won't even discount the grade because of that. He's the man and that's all there is too it.
Glen Coffee, RB - Grade: C
I'm not a big Coffee drinker but i actually like Glen Coffee. Based on what I've read and what some Alabama fans have told me (included in the above post), Coffee will be a very solid option for the 49ers as a backup running back. I like that he knows he can stand to put on about 8-10 lbs. That would put him at 6-0 and close to 220lbs. More importantly he loves to hit things and you know Singletary loves that.
The reason I discount this grade so much is that I'd imagine they could have had him a little later, or even gone with some other RB options late in the draft. Running back was a need for this team, in spite of what others might think. However, there were some serious players available here that left me a bit confused. In the end I can live with this pick because I do think the 49ers front office has some clue of what's going on (no snickers please). However, it was one that had me a little bit befuddled.
Scott McKillop, ILB - Grade: B
Barrows was pretty much on the money with this as he was pointing to McKillop and another ILB at this spot a few minutes before hand. People were screaming for Jamon Meredith as he was slip-sliding like crazy. The selection of McKillop resulted in a lot of Agggggghhhhhs. However, on reflection, people seem to be recognizing the value of the pick.
McKillop will start off as a special teams guy and a backup to Takeo Spikes. Jeff Ulbrich is running out of gas and is probably nearing the end of his 49ers tenure. Ulbrich could never snatch that Ted position, so now we've got another youngster who will get a crack at it. This is mostly about the future as McKillop is a sure tackler who probably has a good chance to eventually take over Spikes's position. Not a homerun pick but one that I view as very sound.
After the jump we wrap up the remaining four picks and undrafted free agents and give our overview.
Nate Davis, QB - Grade: A
The fifth round was all about looking to the future. The compensatory pick was used on a guy who might very well be a QB of the future. I was trying to decide between an A and a B and I just can't lower the grade. Nate Davis does have Alex Smith tendencies that we certainly don't want to see. The dyslexia is something that can be overcome in the NFL, but obviously is something to keep in mind.
And yet, I couldn't look past the wild productivity in college and the fact that he slipped into the end of the fifth round. Even if he doesn't end up as the long term answer, I like this pick no matter what. Over the last couple years Davis actually was considered a potential high NFL prospect. His draft stock slipped due to the dyslexia and probably the grip on the football. As a fifth round pick, this could end up being one of the steals of the draft.
Bear Pascoe, TE - Grade: C
I'm sure somewhere on Niners Nation I'm on record as being a fan of a tight end named Bear. He just sounds like a tight end and I fully expect him to ably fill the role of Billy Bajema, with maybe even a little receiving game thrown in. Sounds great for a late pick and I realize we can't complain too much about a sixth round choice. Maybe I'm being a bit too hard on the pick.
However, I kind of look at the sixth round as an opportunity to roll the dice on either character guys, or injury issue guys. In the end I'm perfectly fine with Bear Pascoe here because I am firmly convinced he'll contribute in the regular season. And yet, part of me wishes the team had been a bit more aggressive here. It's probably wanting to have my cake and eat it too, but such is life.
Curtis Taylor, S - Grade: B
I like this pick, in spite of the Mark Roman comparisons that were going on. Taylor seems like the type of guy you roll the dice on late in the draft. There are legitimate and obvious flaws in his game. However, when you know the flows, it can often be easier to fix them.
As a seventh round pick there is obviously no pressure on him to win a starting job. And yet, I think he'll give Dashon Goldson a fair amount of competition in training camp. What I found most interesting in his scouting report is that he's too aggressive, and yet he's not physical enough. I suppose I can see how that's possible, but it still sounds like an oxymoron somehow.
Ricky Jean-Francois - Grade: B
Where Bear Pascoe is a football name, Ricky Jean-Francois (RJF from here on out) is decidedly NOT a football name. I expect to see him smoking long cigarettes and insulting opponents with a thick French accent. Actually, he makes me think of Jean Girard from Talladega Nights.
However, RJF, like Taylor, seems like an upside guy that is worth gambling on in the 7th round. At 6-2, 295lbs he's probably a bit undersized for a nose tackle. However, I'd like to think he could pack a little weight on to his frame and possibly make some noise in that position. He's a bit taller than both Sopoaga and Franklin, but I don't know how his frame compares for adding such weight.
Undrafted Free Agents - Grade: A
I've included these as one group because I think the context of all the signings makes a little more sense. Thus far, they include Pannel Egboh (DE), Kory Sheets (RB), Alex Boone (OT), Jahi Word-Daniels (CB) and Carlos Thomas (CB). None of these guys is a home run hitter, or they would have gone in the draft. Question marks abound, but again, that's why they landed on the street.
It's waaaay too early to tell what will happen, but with a few extra pounds on his frame, I think Egboh could push Ray McDonald for a roster spot. McDonald has struggled in making his mark and with Kentwan Balmer and Demetric Evans getting their chances, the squeeze coud be on for Ray.
Kory Sheets was solid at Purdue, but he just doesn't seem to have the potential bulk that Coffee brings to the table. Sheets could find himself in a battle for Thomas Clayton's old practice squad spot. Meanwhile, you've got Alex Boone, who's had a few run-ins with the law. McShay projected him as a late fifth round pick, factoring in those character issues. So, just maybe, the 49ers might have a solid backup option. He'll be battling the likes of Joe Toledo and Jacob Bender for a roster spot, or maybe just a practice squad spot.
OVERALL - Grade: B
I'll bet good money a lot of folks disagree with me on this. I mentioned it in Since79's FanPost, but to reiterate, this was a very odd draft. It just had a weird feel to it, from top to bottom, even beyond the 49ers picks. Guys like Jamon Meredith were plummeting, and Al Davis was drafting guys not even in draft guides.
Beyond the Crabtree pick, the 49ers seemed to be drafting like a team just filling some depth needs, or more precisely, a playoff team with not a ton of concerns. That's certainly not the case and that is why many folks were getting furious. Personally, I wanted a Jamon Meredith or Duke Robinson. I would have liked a Shonn Greene.
However, when you factor in the undrafted free agents, this 49ers rookie class is very intriguing. I gave Coffee a C but that was more because it was a 3rd round pick, instead of a 4th or 5th round pick. You like to hit on those and it seemed like a bit of a gamble. However, I do like Coffee's upside as a backup RB. I don't think he's a guaranteed bust, like others.
People were surprised the team did not grab any offensive linemen or outside linebackers. While I don't know any more than any of you, I do think this indicates the team is obviously fairly happy with what they already have in place. Boone will get a chance to win a roster spot, but for now he's pretty far down the depth chart behind Smith, Snyder and Sims.
Finally, there's The Trade. I was amazed at the divide over this. Some love it, some hate it and very few are in between. I'm a fan of the deal. It cost some potential talent this year, but I like getting that extra first rounder next year. It's all a crapshoot in the end, so why not increase your odds of avoiding crapping out? If I didn't like this trade I would have definitely seen the point of giving the 49ers a C or a D given that it involved a 2nd and 4th round pick. However, I think the trade should prove beneficial in the long run, thus I maintain the B.
There is much much more to be said about this draft. Numerous questions are raised by the moves made this weekend. As long as this post is, I simply can't fit it all in. Over the course of this week and beyond, we'll have plenty of thoughts about what I think again many people would agree was a rather bizarre weekend.