The first round started off fairly quietly without too many surprises through the first few picks. Before long things got crazy, and our 49ers managed to get in the middle of it, as they traded their 13th overall pick and their 4th round pick to the Denver Broncos, in exchange for Denver's 11th overall pick. When the team then used that pick to select Rutgers offensive tackle Anthony Davis, the reaction was swift, and for some, not too pretty. They followed that up at the 17th pick with Idaho guard Mike Iupati, who some say is the best guard prospect since Steve Hutchinson. Feel free to check out Drew K's 100 in 100 posts on each (Mike Iupati; Anthony Davis)
After the jump we look at the 49ers trade and two picks (along with Mocking the Draft Scouting Reports at the very end), as well as a look ahead to day 2. Also, feel free to vote in our poll when you get a moment. And if you want further proof that sometimes Tim Kawakami may not know what heck he is talking about, I present Exhibit A. Even if the team drafts Clausen in round 2, Kawakami was wrong, wrong, wrong!
The first question mark in many minds was moving up two spots to get Anthony Davis, when it seemed like he and/or Bulaga would likely fall to 13. What do we now know after these moves? It's safe to say Bryan Bulaga was not in the top 13 of the 49ers Big Board and the team really liked Anthony Davis. Had Bulaga been on their Big Board I would have imagined they would have waited for the Broncos to deal or trade and see if one or both of the OTs remained on the board. Instead they moved up for the guy they wanted in Davis.
Yes the move cost them a 4th round pick, but if you have a guy you definitely want (even if some fans don't like him), I think it's worth sacrificing what is now a third day pick to get that guy. A first round player is much more likely to make an impact than a 4th round player. When you can get such a player and it only costs you a 4th, I say go for it. The team has already confirmed they made the move so nobody would jump ahead of them. I can live with that. For those that just don't like Davis because of the work ethic concerns, that's another story entirely.
There are concerns about Davis and maybe it won't work out. But for now, the 49ers saw a guy they liked and they did what they had to to get him, without blowing too much (see the Broncos and Tim Tebow). If the conditioning is an issue, I'd like to hope Singletary can whip him into shape. The same holds true for his general struggles at times in college. The 49ers have had some prominent busts in the past on the offensive line, one in particular we'll never name. I find myself somewhat concerned, but also open to a bit of benefit of the doubt for now. Hopefully Davis gets his crap together and proves worthy of a first round pick.
The second pick of guard Mike Iupati caught me a bit off-guard because I didn't see the team going with two offensive linemen in the first round. I thought maybe one in the first and then one with the 49th pick, if even that. Of course, if you're thinking OL with 2 of the first 3 picks, why not just use both first rounders on them?
There are some folks who had Maurkice Pouncey above Iupati, but Iupati is generally praised as a great guard prospect who could potentially move outside to tackle. As a guard, some have said he's the best prospect since Seahawks/Vikings great Steve Hutchinson. I'd say the 49ers will have done ok if Iupati turns out anything like Hutchinson.
With both these selections, the 49ers have shown that a) Alex Smith is their guy in 2010, and b) they knew how bad the offensive line was, and they made every effort to shore it up. When you have a particular unit that is awful, using two early picks on it is a smart move. Maybe the picks end up not working out, but for now, they've done what they can to upgrade the offensive line.
What does this mean for the 49ers roster going into 2010? Well, David Baas and Adam Snyder both now face stiff competition. At least one additional o-lineman was expected, but adding two will make for some great training camp battles. It also could mean the team will pass on Chester Pitts once he's healthy. Or, maybe they add Pitts for a short-term deal and dump Baas since he's only signed to his tender. Either way, expect some turnover at left guard in 2010.
The change in the draft structure has us all a bit let down after only one round of action today. With one round down, I'd imagine the phones will be burning up around the league throughout the night and into tomorrow. Baalke indicated in his press conference that the team is open to moving up tomorrow. Given all the potential smoke-screens out there, take anything said with a grain of salt.
The question becomes what the team does with their second round pick. Some highly rated talent sits on the board including Carlos Dunlap, Taylor Mays, Jimmy Clausen, and Sergio Kindle. The only thing we can say with any certainty is that the 49ers will probably not be adding any offensive linemen tomorrow. There are plenty of question marks remaining that the team can address whether it be at safety, in the pass rush department, maybe a 3-4 defensive end. I know there are some areas that could be addressed on offense, but barring a Clausen addition, I really think the team goes defense, defense on day 2.
Speaking of Clausen, I'm curious to see what happens to him. After all, he was projected as no worse than 30 to Minnesota, but that obviously didn't happen. I don't think the 49ers grab him at 49 or move up to get him, but it will be interesting who ends up with him. I don't know if he can be a great NFL QB, but he's worth much more of a gamble for a lot of teams out there at second round money over first round money.
Anthony Davis Scouting Report
6'6, 330 pounds | Offensive tackle | Rutgers
Awareness/Reaction: Will lose focus once he commits to the inside block. Stunts to his outside shoulder have given him trouble since being move to left tackle.
Balance: Has a strong base that keeps him upright when engaged. Feet are constantly moving which enables him to maintain balance throughout.
Initial Quickness: Fires out of his stance and his on top of the defender in a blink. Has as good a first two steps going forward as any lineman in the country.
Movement/Space: When he gets going downfield, his momentum alone can take a defender out of a play. He has outstanding athleticism for a 325 pounder and appears to be comfortable and balance when in space.
Pass Blocking: Very powerful as a pass blocker. Locks up defenders and completely stifles them upon contact. Feet get him to the edge quick enough. Will bend at the waist at times, leaving him prone to the double move if he can't lock on initially. Excellent recovery blocker that can still win the battle if he is beat at the point of attack.
Pulling/Trapping: Did play his first season at guard, so he does have more experience pulling than your normal tackle. Moves much better going straight ahead than moving down the line laterally. Will stand straight up when pulling which slows him down and decreases the power he exerts.
Run Blocking: Top tier run blocker. Looks to push his man not to the ground, but through it. Very aggressive drive blocker that plays through the whistle. Can completely take a defender out of the play when his technique and balance are there. Very powerful punch that gives him that intiail advantage that he consistently takes advantage of. Excellent arm extension.
Size/Length/Hand Size: Has the ideal body for an offensive tackle and he holds 325 pounds very well. Does not have a lot of loose fat on him. Long arms and big, powerful hands.
Strength/Explosion/Pop: Wins at the point of attack with his initial punch alone at times. Very strong upper body, looked like a man among boys against some teams. Fires out with power and stands the defender up.
Technique: The most inconsistent aspect of his game. Will bend at the waist, especially late in games when he begins to fatigue. Footwork is consistent however. Keeps them chopping and wide enough to maintain balance.
Final Word: Anthony Davis has a very good shot at being the first tackle taken this April. He certainly looks the part at 6'6/325 pounds, but he is more than just a sexy prospect from the naked eye. He is one of the more powerful linemen in this class and that should get him on the field right away. He has more than enough athleticism to get by and with some good coaching, his technique will evolve the point where he can be a Pro-Bowl caliber left tackle. He has battled some minor weight issues and been benched on two separate occasions for violating team rules, so there will need to be some investigating in to his character and work ethic.
Mike Iupati Scouting Report
6'6, 330 pounds | Guard | Idaho
Awareness: Has very good pre-snap awareness to diagnose where a play is coming from. Needs to sustain his blocks longer. Should stay on his initial man and finish off the block. Too often Iupati releases his block to work on another defender.
Balance: Rarely gets pushed around at the line of scrimmage. Keeps his shoulders square. Always stays on both feet.
Initial quickness: Gets into position incredibly quickly. Gets from a three-point stance to having his arms up and his legs wide really fluidly. Moves off the line of scrimmage without hesitation. Has the quickness of a Pro Bowl left tackle.
Movement: Iupati has excellent footwork. Has a quick outside step. When he has to, Iupati works upfield quickly. Tends to move around too much instead of staying in his area. Very light on his feet. Works exceptionally well on the second level.
Pass blocking: Picks up stunts against quick ends well. Good help blocker, especially against ends who work to the inside. Has a strong hand punch to jolt defensive linemen.
Pulling: For a player his size, it's surprising just how good Iupati is at pulling. he works really well on the move, working from left to right. Doesn't make missteps. Is best when his target isn't on the move.
Run blocking: Can be dominant on run blocking because of his size and strength. Aggressive off the snap, which helps him get leverage. Could do a better job of keeping his knees bent in run blocking so defenders don't get under his pads. Does a nice job of moving to the side and pushing defenders into the pile to create running lanes. Keeps a good base and doesn't get pushed back.
Size: Possesses great size for the position and has a good build throughout. Isn't just a big, fat offensive lineman. Looks to be in good shape. Has long arms.
Strength: Does nicely off the snap dipping his shoulder and driving into defenders. His functional strength is ready for the NFL. He's strong throughout his torso and has powerful legs. Looking at his frame, he could even get bigger, which is scary considering he's already at 330 pounds.
Technique: Good job as a hand fighter keeping defenders out of his frame. But Iupati has to do a more consistent job with proper hand technique. At times would get complacent and drop his arms. Always keeps his shoulders square to the line of scrimmage at all times unless pulling.
Final word: Although it may have been against somewhat lesser competition, Iupati was arguably the best player on the field in every game he played in 2009. Iupati was a consensus All-American and a finalist for the Outland Trophy as a senior. What Iupati showed throughout the year is that he's the premier senior guard prospect in the nation.
The question about Iupati is where to play him. His footwork, arm length and strength is so good he could probably play left tackle. Iupati could be the next Branden Albert – a solid tackle with little upside. Or he could stick at guard and start from Day 1.
Guards aren't generally taken in the first round, but Iupati could be the exception.