Well now that the draft is over, and now that we have all had time (like it, or hate it) to let the dust settle, we can start breaking down exactly what the Niners set out to accomplish and did or did not. There were plenty of teams who did not do well at all, others who seemingly have aced the draft, and a lot of teams that sort of just fell in between somewhere.
Opinions here on Niners Nation have ranged anywhere from very excited with the selections to very disappointed. And then there are those who fall somewhere in between. Overall, the 49ers addressed some fairly significant needs on both sides of the ball and have a lot to prove this season.
The 49ers went 8-8 last year with a less than stellar offensive line and a shaky secondary from week to week. The game plan changed periodically throughout the course of the season, but with the same offensive coordinator for the second consecutive season in a very long time, the 49ers will look to improve last years record. One major glitch from last season to this one that will need to be corrected, is that they will need to do much better playing games on the road; specifically the earlier morning east coast games.
After the jump, I will provide a break down of the individual draft picks, as Fooch has briefly already touched on, and give them each a final grade based on my opinion. After that, I will provide a final draft grade for this years 2010 49ers Draft Class. After that, I will extend the grades to the undrafted free agents that have been invited. This should be an interesting preseason to say the least once it finally get's here.
Here is your 2010 San Francisco 49ers Rookie Class...
11th Pick Overall (1st Round) - Anthony Davis | Offensive Tackle | Rutgers - While this selection filled a critical area of concern (potentially the right tackle position), the 49ers jumped up two draft slots, trading away a 4th Round selection to acquire the 20-year old Offensive Tackle from Rutgers University. I have to admit that I was pretty upset with the pick initially but more upset with the trade-up for the pick than anything else. With such a deep draft, it was alarming at that point and time. Particularly with both Bryan Bulaga and Davis on the board. I heavily expect that the teams that traded up after us were not targeting an offensive lineman and it may have been too much for a team like the Packers to outbid for to get Davis (if they even wanted him). But what's done is done and I am moving forward.
There ended up being a lot of talent selected in the 4th Round that would have been ripe for the picking had we held on to that pick. Now that all of the draft picks are in, and looking back in hindsight, and watching a few videos on Davis' arrival to 49ers headquarters, I really have had the chance to analyze the pick a bit more. I am a little less critical of the pick at this point. However, Davis is very young, and going in to Seattle and having to deal with the 12th-man for his very first game as a rookie could be very trying and is a bit unerving for me. I am going to remain patient with Davis and give him the benefit of the doubt for now, but much remains for him to prove himself in San Francisco. The coaching staff has their work cut out. I've had time to reset and think things through, and his grade went up for me just a bit. Extra Credit: Attitude. OVERALL GRADE: B-
17th Pick Overall (1st Round) - Mike Iupati | Offensive Guard | Idaho - A few years ago, in the 2006 NFL Draft the New York Jets drafted D'Brickshaw Ferguson and Nick Mangold as they were just a few pieces short of having a very good offensive line. The 49ers decided to do something very similar in nature with the two first round picks this year. The Niners, as we all know, had one of the worst offensive lines in the NFL last year. The addition of Iupati here solidifies the line for years to come. I was much more content with this selection than I was with the very first of the two first of the 49ers picks.
Mike Iupati received a lot of criticism from the week of practices prior to the Senior Bowl as he had a tough time making the adjustments he was being asked to. Part of the problem there was that he was being worked out in a position that he had never played and was very unfamiliar with. He is a very good left guard point blank. There are no "if's" about it. The 49ers drafted him to play left guard, and I get a very good feeling that this young man has the tangibles to beat out David Baas for the starting position. Out of the two first round linemen, I expect Iupati to struggle the least initially. OVERALL GRADE: A
49th Pick Overall (2nd Round) - Taylor Mays | Strong Safety | USC - Taylor Mays falling in to the 49ers laps this far in to the 2nd Round was nothing short of a miracle. When the 49ers turned their card in for this selection, and it was announced at the podium, I have to say that me, the 49ers front office, and I am sure several other Niner fans jumped through the roof. With Pete Carroll's selection of Earl Thomas early on in the draft, it sent Mays sailing down the board in dramatic fashion. It seems as though most teams looked at Carroll not taking Mays with the 14th overall pick as a "sign" that he may not have as much upside as was being put on. Well, all I have to say to that, is that this is the 49ers gain and everyone else's loss.
None the less, smiles were ear to ear on Taylor Mays' face as he took the podium at 49ers headquarters earlier yesterday; See video here. Mays sounds like an intelligent young man, and as he stated in the interview, he is not going to play the game with a grudge, or a chip... but more or less play the game with the intentions of being one of the best. He has a relationship with former 49er, and Hall of Famer, Ronnie Lott. Lott will be a guy that Mays can reach out to for advice and I don't think there is a better candidate (aside from the coaches) for that. Mays will have an incredible front seven in front of him and that will benefit him tremendously. I have a feeling that Mays has all the makings, and right coaching in front of him to be great now. OVERALL GRADE: A+
91st Pick Overall (3rd Round) - Navorro Bowman | Linebacker | Penn State - This was another player that fell quite a bit. Initially, some folks had Bowman pinned as a late first rounder, early second rounder. There was excellent value in the pick here... not to mention the trade back to acquire the extra 4th Rounder in the 2011 Draft. The reason, or part of it anyway, that Bowman fell this far down was that there were a few character concerns. If the rumors were true, there is not a better situation for him to be in than in San Francisco where a majority, if not all of the players have very high character and are held to high standards. Usually who one hangs out with, dictates a lot of how one behaves. Bowman will be surrounded by a bunch of class act guys and I have great faith that it will rub off on him and he will be a very respectable individual.
Bowman played a couple of the linebacker positions in his career at Penn State. His versatility helped the Nittany Lions defense out quite a bit. Bowman will more than likely learn a year or two behind the veteran linebacking corp and then be inserted in whatever position he fits in at best. I have full faith in that he will be starting for the 49ers someday soon. He may even be mixed in to packages as early as the beginning of the year. OVERALL GRADE: A
173rd Pick Overall (6th Round) - Anthony Dixon | Running Back | Mississippi State - I found this pick here just a bit mind boggling. I don't feel like he was an excellent addition to the roster and still to this point feel like there were much better options available to us. I understand the reasoning a bit though... Dixon was a high rated player and they saw value and jumped all over it. However, I mainly just see Dixon as a very short yardage insert. I suppose the 49ers have more faith in Glen Coffee than I do to be the 49ers insurance policy. There was another running back similar to him added through the undrafted class, but we'll get to that in just a bit.
Singletary and company made the mistake last year of coming out and announcing to the world that he was going to run, run, run...and inflict his will on opposing teams through the run. Although the team got away from that for the most part by mid-season, it appears on the surface that he is once again announcing to the world he wants to run, run, run...and inflict his will on opposing teams through the run. I hope that I am wrong, and that they learned that the only way you can win in today's NFL is having a balanced diet of both. OVERALL GRADE: C+
182nd Pick Overall (6th Round) - Nate Byham | Tight End | Pittsburgh - Who?... That was my initial reaction until I remembered that he was Dorin Dickerson's back up. He is basically an undersized lineman with so-so hands. I was really shocked that the 49ers were using these picks on players like this when we have already brought in a guy with as much upside (in all facet's) in Tony Curtis. J.J. Finely has quietly been making progress on the practice squad as well. I felt like I was reliving the Bear Pascoe selection of last year. Hopefully the feeling is false, but I have very little expectation that Byham will be around long. It amazes me at how little confidence some folks have for the four tight ends currently with the 49ers. Adding a fifth was just a bit much for me with this pick. OVERALL GRADE: D
206th Pick Overall (6th Round) - Kyle Williams | Wide Reciever | ASU - I think this may have been the best pick up in the three picks we had in the 6th Round. Williams was considered as the number two option next to Chris McGaha at ASU, but his yards per catch was a bit better. Williams is a return specialist that has mounds of upside and could very well push newly acquired Ted Ginn Jr. for his job. At least one of his jobs in regards to returns. Williams would be good insurance to Ginn Jr. at the very least. I am anxious to see what Williams can do once he puts on that red and gold. If you have not ever seen or heard of Williams, I encourage you to visit youtube.com to check him out. You may be impressed with his college performances. Living in Arizona, I go to a couple of ASU games each year even though I am solely an Oklahoma Sooners fan. I only went to one game this year which was the very first against Idaho State. The Sun Devils slaughtered the Bengals 50-3 and I remember a few nice catches by Williams. Again, he will be a fun one to watch... even if it is just for a single preseason. OVERALL GRADE: B
224th Pick Overall (7th Round) - Phillip Adams | Cornerback | South Carolina State - I really have to be honest here. Until today, I did not even realize a Phillip Adams existed and it's a bit embarrassing considering I did so much college football coverage. After a bit of brief research, he seems like an interesting prospect. He has some special teams ability and potential to start out on special teams. I have a feeling that he was drafted to push Karl Paymah for that roster spot. Personally, I would have drafted one of our undrafted signings (Pat Stoudamire) before Adams, but it's mainly just because I know much more about him. Sometimes the unknowns are the best hidden gems though, so we will see. I will give the scouts and coaching staff the benefit of doubt in this one. OVERALL GRADE: B
If the odds end up being 50/50 in this years draft class, meaning 50% of the draft picks make the team, I think that batting .500 will be a solid figure for most. Considering that the draft was so deep this year, more so than any other draft in potentially the past decade or more, I feel that we could have done a bit better in the second half of the draft (Rounds 4-7). It wasn't a complete disappointment though as we did acquire some decent talent through the UDFA pool which we'll look at below. Round and player selected was considered in to the grading. OVERALL TEAM GRADE FOR THE 2010 49ERS DRAFT: B+
Let's now take a look at the undrafted guys the 49ers have invited to camp. This, in and of itself, washes away some of the not so great selections in the latter portion of the draft. Note: These are the names that Fooch provided in an earlier post. We will be keeping an eye out for the official word.
LeGarrette Blount | Running Back | Oregon - This is an interesting selection for me. He will come in and compete for the job that we drafted Anthony Dixon for. Blount, if he can maintane himself attitude free, and do what he is asked of... work hard... and all of that, has a real legitimate chance of making the roster. Either Dixon or Blount will be the guy. Blount happens to be a better pass blocker than Dixon and can catch the ball out of the backfield just as well, so this will be a very intriguing match up to watch once preseason hits full swing. Blount has a real shot at making this team and could be this years most significant undrafted free agent if he can make the 53-man roster. GRADE: A
Chris Maragos | Safety | Wisconsin - Maragos reminded me a lot of a young John Lynch or Pat Tillman. He has a very good chance of making the practice squad. If someone goes down with injury, he'd definitely be a good guy to have around to insert in to the roster. Particularly if there is some sort of special teams injury. He is an animal against the run and has decent instinct against the pass. He may be a sleeper. If you have not seen any of this young man's talent, I suggest you take a quick peek here in this highlight feed. GRADE: B-
LeRoy Vann | Return Specialist | Florida A & M - Explosive return specialist that Singletary and company recently scouted. I think they are very excited that they can take a look at this guy now without having to draft him. He is just one more reason that I am caring less and less about the sixth round picks that were not as appealing. Vann broke all kinds of school and division records while at Florida A & M in regards to returning the ball. He makes people miss, and has tremendous upside. However, I believe that some folks could end up being disappointed (much like the Kory Sheets deal last year) if and when Vann get's cut. Is he this years KSWOF? We shall see. GRADE: B
Patrick Stoudamire | Cornerback | Western Illinois - This was one of the guys that I was hoping we would select out of the remaining corners that were left on the board during all three picks for us in the 6th Round and we ended up with him regardless. I have to say that I am ecstatic for the chance this guy has to make our roster. He is a bit unpolished, but his tangibles and love for the game shimmer when he plays. Stoudamire could earn a roster spot behind Clements, Spencer, and Brown. Between Adams and Stoudamire, I believe that one of them will undoubtedly make the 53-man roster; especially if Dre Bly does not return. GRADE: A-
Jared Perry | Wide Receiver | Missouri - Perry was the number two behind Denario Alexander, who also surprisingly went undrafted. Alexander was considered as a mid round pick by most of the experts with his 6'5" 215 LB frame and speed to match. He will not last long. It is a mystery to me why the 49ers targeted Perry and not Alexander. But I suppose we will see soon. I was more impressed in watching the Stanzi-Alexander combo than I was when Ricky Stanzi threw the ball to Perry. GRADE: C-
Jarrett Brown | Quarterback | West Virgiania - Depending on how much playing time Brown gets, he has a real shot at knocking Nate Davis out of that 3rd spot. I truely in my heart of hearts believe that. This has nothing to do with my lack of intrigue with Davis, but more to do with the gargantuan upside that Brown presents. He is intelligent, instinctive, has a huge arm, and incredible accuracy. There is a bit more upside to Brown than Davis... and I bet the coaches, particularly Mike Johnson can't wait to get to work with Brown. There is a lot to do in such a little amount of time to impress. But Brown could possibly be the end all to the Nate Davis Was Our Future talk. I am extremely excited to see Brown in action. GRADE: A+
Shay Hodge | Wide Reciever | Ole Miss - Well he didn't exactly have Eli Manning throwing him the ball, and had to share the spotlight with the likes of players such as Dexter McCluster and Mike Wallace, but Hodge certainly shined in his own light. I am not sure who he would be competing with for a roster spot and he may just be brought in for a practice squad guy, but there definitely isn't a better guy to be there. Zeigler could possibly move up or ship out this year. Hodge may be his replacement. Or... he could come out and shock everyone and make the 53, but I am not expecting that. I'm very anxious to see him in preseason though. GRADE: B-
Scott Long | Wide Reciever | Louisville - The Big East produced some very good football players this year and Long certainly falls in to that category. I am not sure that he has better tangibles than Hodge so I am guessing they brought him in as a camp body. He was the Cardinals leading receiver though with 73 receptions but he only got in the endzone 2 times his past season. Initially his stock was quite high, but eventually through the course of the season, it dropped and dropped some more. GRADE: C-
UNDRAFTED FREE AGENT GRADE AND FINAL SUMMARY:
If you have ever eaten at a Chinese Buffet, you may have had a scenario that went something along the lines of this: After your first serving you still feel like you have room for seconds so you go back up to the bar and load up your plate up with another heaping mound of food. After you conquer about three-quarters of your plate, you decide you are full and cannot eat another bite (number of plates may vary by person). Once you leave, you are satisfied for the most part, but 15-30 minutes later you are hungry again. Well that is how the draft went for me. The first round, and first day was very tasty... liked the picks alot for the most part with a few minor bad choices on the plate (figuratively speaking). I was full, but not totally, so I went back on day two for seconds. Day two for me left me feeling like we could do no wrong and anything else that happened, was secondary... but wait, I found myself hungry again day three (Rounds 4-7), which we didn't have a 4th or 5th Round choice due to other moves. And as hungry as I was, the selections just didn't do it for me completely. BUT WAIT AGAIN!! There was desert... I completely forgot about that and it would put the final touches on satisfying my hunger. The undrafted free agents took care of a bunch of the needs and concerns left behind unaddressed in the draft. OVERALL TEAM GRADE FOR THE 2010 UNDRAFTED FREE AGENTS: B+
Overall, I think we could all be in for a very exciting and rewarding season. Although, certain things could happen in between now and the playoffs, this is a very exciting time to be a 49ers fan. And the entire community of the 49ers Faithful will be rewarded soon... I honestly believe that after what has seemed like a century in the time of waiting.