Today's article will concentrate on the 49ers two 4th round selections (108th and 115th overall), and the recent history regarding the picks. I truly believe that you will be surprised by the impact that some of these players have had over the course of their careers. That said, it is extremely hard to gauge "busts" at this point in the draft. So, I have decided to use what I thought in terms of each player at the time they came out from college. As you probably know, I consider myself a draft "buff", so my take should, at least, be interesting.
Additionally, I will focus on the best 4th round picks since the 2005 NFL Draft. Again, you will be surprised what I have found in regards to this...
1990: C- Tony Mayberry, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Mayberry started all 144 games during the final 9 games of his career with Tampa Bay; he also made the Pro Bowl the final three years of his career. Mayberry was s tout center, and represented the last of the elite but punishing players at that position. After playing so many seasons with the horrible Tampa Bay franchise, Mayberry finally made the playoffs his final season with Tampa Bay under Tony Dungy. A nice finish to a distinguished career.
1997: WR- Marcus Robinson, Chicago Bears: Robinson did not put up the most electrifying numbers, and his shot as a #1 receiver ended as quick as it began. However, he was a true professional that represented everything that was right on the field. He did catch 325 passes during his 9 year NFL career. Additionally, Robinson totaled 43 touchdowns during that span.
2002: QB- David Garrard, Jacksonville Jaguars: Garrard has 32 more TDs than interceptions during his first five full seasons as a starter. Additionally, he made the Pro Bowl in 2009. Garrard may not be among the elite QBs in the NFL, nor is he flashy. But, one thing is for sure; he was a steal for Jacksonville in the 4th round.
2004: WR- Jerricho Cotchery, New York Jets: All Cotchery has done since being implemented into the Jets regular receiver rotation in 2006 is catch 340 passes, and compiled over 4200 yards. Cotchery did lose his starting job to Santonio Holmes after the former Steelers receiver served his five game suspension. That said, Cotchery has the ability to be a solid #2 WR in the league, and has proven that to date.
2006: OT- Jahri Evans, New Orleans Saints: Evans has started all 80 games for the New Orleans Saints since being drafted in the 4th round of the 2006 draft. The former college standout has made two consecutive All-Pro and Pro-Bowl appearances, which has to rank him as one of the best 4th round steals in modern history.
2009: WR- Brian Hartline, Miami Dolphins: Hartline's statistics have not been eye popping during his first two years with the dolphins, however, he has been an extremely consistent performer. In two seasons, Hartline has accumulated over 70 receptions for 1,121 yards and 4 TDs; this with an incredibly erratic passing game. If the Dolphins are able to get a solid starting QB, expect Hartline's stats to increase.
2010: WR- Jacoby Ford, Oakland Raiders: Ford started 9 games for the Raiders his rookie season and was extremely solid; especially, during the end of the season. He caught a pass in all ten games in which he was in the regular receiver rotation and two 100 yards games. In addition to be a solid receiver, Ford was electric in the return game. Ford averaged over 24 yards per kick return and scored three TDs.
1992: OT- Mike Mooney, Houston Oilers: He didn't have a productive career only appearing in one game. I feel bad putting him on this list because of the tragic circumstances surrounding his life. Mooney died in his sleep on March 6, 2007. He was only 37 years old.
1995: DE- Dameian Jeffries, New Orleans Saints: Jeffries only played in two games in his NFL Career, and never really stuck. I remember Jeffries at the University of Alabama, and he was a standout performer there. It was surprising to me that he didn't pan out.
1990: RB- Larry Centers, Arizona Cardinals: Centers was a three time Pro-Bowl performer in his 14 year NFL career. What separated him from other players of that time is that he was an extremely solid rushing full-back that had great receiving skills. Centers gained over 9,000 yards from scrimmage, had 827 career receptions and score 42 touchdowns. Those stats alone, are Hall-of-Fame worthy.
2003: RB- Lee Suggs, Cleveland Browns: Suggs was a standout player for Virginia Tech in college, however, it didn't translate to the NFL. His best year came in 2004 when he led the Browns in rushing with 744 yards and scored 2 TDs. After that, Suggs ran for a total of 44 yards, completely falling on his face. However, a myriad of injuries did not help his cause.
Standout 4th Round Picks Since 2005
2005: QB- Kyle Orton (Denver Broncos), RB- Marion Barber (Dallas Cowboys), RB- Brandon Jacobs (New York Giants), OT- David Stewart (Tennessee Titans), S- Kerry Rhodes (New York Jets), RB- Darren Sproles (San Diego Chargers)
2006: TE- Owen Daniels (Houston Texans), WR- Brad Smith (New York Jets), G- Jahri Evans (New Orleans Saints), LB- Stephen Tulloch (Tennessee Titans), WR- Brandon Marshall (Denver Broncos), LB- Elvis Dumervil (Denver Broncos), DE- Ray Edwards (Minnesota Vikings), OT- Willie Colon (Pittsburgh Steelers)
2008: RB- Tashard Choice (Dallas Cowboys)
2009: WR- Mike Thomas (Jacksonville Jaguars), WR- Brian Hartline (Miami Dolphins), WR- Louis Murphy (Oakland Raiders)
2010: WR- Mike Williams (Tampa Bay Buccaneers), WR- Jacoby Ford (Oakland Raiders), TE- Aaron Hernandez (New England Patriots)
Surprisingly, I was able to find a nice amount of "gems" with the 108th pick, not so much with the 115th pick. That said, I also wasn't able to find many busts here. That said, it is important to note that I am having a hard time gauging exactly what a 4th round "bust" would look like.
In looking at the entire 4th round over the course of the last six seasons, I found it incredible how many productive NFL players have been selected there. The above list include All-Pro performers, future standouts, and even possible hall of fame candidates. The 4th round has represented some of the best finds in recent drafts, and if pass years are any indication the 49ers are sitting pretty with two picks in that round later this month. I would not have a problem coming out of this draft with a Brandon Marshall and Elvis Dumervil type player. Would you? Hopefully, this year plays out like 2005 and 2006 did in regards to the 4th round.