2006 NFL Draft Grades: Value and Efficiency Ratings for San Francisco 49ers

Well, we've reached the end of my series on grading the 2006 NFL Draft. If you haven't read the previous installments, here's what I covered in Parts 1-4:

  1. A detailed description of my objective method for evaluating draft picks and draft classes
  2. Overall Value Above Expectation (VAE) and Return on Investment (ROI) ratings
  3. VAE and ROI ratings for the first 2 rounds only, and a list of the busts
  4. VAE and ROI ratings for Rounds 3-7, and a list of the diamonds in the rough

As the title of this post suggests, today I'm going to be focusing on how well the 49ers' did with their 9 picks according to VAE and ROI. But before I do, here's a table recapping all of the objective grades I gave out this week for the 2006 NFL draft:

 

Overall

Rounds 1-2

Rounds 3-7

Tm

VAE

ROI

VAE

ROI

VAE

ROI

ARI

D

D

D

D

C

C

ATL

D

F

D

F

D

D

BAL

B

C

A

B

C

C

BUF

B

B

F

F

A

A

CAR

C

C

B

B

C

C

CHI

B

B

A

A

D

D

CIN

C

C

B

B

D

D

CLE

D

D

B

C

F

F

DAL

F

F

F

D

F

F

DEN

A

A

A

B

A

A

DET

F

F

D

D

F

F

GB

A

B

A

A

C

C

HOU

A

A

C

C

A

A

IND

A

A

B

A

A

A

JAX

A

A

A

A

B

B

KC

C

C

B

B

D

F

MIA

F

F

F

F

C

C

MIN

C

B

C

C

B

B

NE

F

F

F

F

D

D

NO

A

A

C

C

A

A

NYG

D

D

F

F

B

B

NYJ

C

C

B

C

C

C

OAK

D

D

D

C

F

F

PHI

B

B

D

D

A

B

PIT

D

D

C

A

D

D

SD

B

B

A

A

C

C

SEA

C

C

C

C

C

C

SF

C

C

C

D

B

B

STL

F

F

F

F

F

D

TB

F

D

C

C

F

F

TEN

C

C

D

D

B

B

WAS

B

A

C

B

B

A

Based on the Niners' grades, we can conclude that they had an average draft overall, doing much better with their last 7 picks than with their first 2.

Now, let's turn to the individual picks, which I'm going to countdown from what I think was their worst pick to what I think was their best pick. For this countdown, rather than just ranking them according to any single VAE or ROI stat,  I'm going to take a holistic view, and combine the objective ratings with a little bit of my subjective opinions. To be sure, the objective ratings will take precedence. However, I feel like there are a couple of places where the ratings don't adequately reflect the actual value the 49ers got from the player. Furthermore, there's one player in particular who needs to be bumped up on the list because he began showing his value only recently (hmmm...wonder who that might be). But, of course, feel free to disagree in the comments section if you wish.

After the jump, it's the final countdown...

#9 - WR BRANDON WILLIAMS - 3RD ROUND, PICK 84

VAE = -2.10 (249th overall, 27th among 29 WRs)

ROI = -100.00% (T198th overall, T20th among WRs)

At 5'10, 175 lbs, Williams was seen as a slot receiver and return specialist when the Niners drafted him. Although he did end up returning 27 punts for the team, he never caught a pass during his 2-year NFL career. Career AV doesn't capture a player's value on special teams all that well, so perhaps his ROI is a bit misleading given that he did actually give the Niners, and later the Rams, non-zero production. Nevertheless, splitting hairs about Career AV shouldn't obscure the fact that Williams' career was well below what you'd expect from a 3rd-round pick. Indeed, of the 33 third-round picks in the 2006 NFL Draft, Williams was 1 of only 2 selections whose teams returned nothing on their investment.

#8 - S VICKIEL VAUGHN - 7th Round, Pick 254

VAE = -0.68 (164th overall, 21st among 25 Ss)

ROI = -100.00% (T198th overall, T23rd among Ss)

In 2006, the typical 7th-round pick had a -100% ROI, with 12 of the 47 never playing a down in the NFL. Vaughn was 1 of those 12. As the next-to-last pick in the draft, expectations were extremely low (Exp AV/Yr = 0.68), so it's hard to say the Niners made a bad pick here. That's actually why I put him ahead of Brandon Williams. However, if we hearken back to those halcyon days of the 2-14 team in 2005, the 49ers basically had no talent on the roster at S aside from Tony Parrish and - perhaps - Keith Lewis. There was clearly an opportunity for Vaughn to make his way into the rotation despite being such a low pick. Therefore, I can only go so far in giving him the benefit of the doubt.  

#7 - S MARCUS HUDSON - 6TH ROUND, PICK 192

VAE = -0.24 (149th overall, 19th among 25 Ss)

ROI = -22.94% (153rd overall, 19th among Ss)

Low expectations are something you can't really hold against Marcus Hudson either. On the plus side, he gave the 49ers a modicum of help in their dime defense, and performed well on special teams. Furthermore, he's 1 of only 16 players taken in the 6th-round (out of 39) to still be in the league 5 years post hence. On the negative side, we can't really get carried away with the plaudits given that he did, after all, underperform expectations. Nevertheless, he did give the 49ers, and later the Panthers, something, so that puts him ahead of Williams and Vaughn.

#6 - RB MICHAEL ROBINSON - 4TH ROUND, PICK 100

VAE = -0.88 (186th overall, 13th among 15 RBs)

ROI = -46.80% (167th overall, 12th among RBs)

Speaking of special teams, I have Robinson at #6 despite his atrocious ROI simply because of how vital he was to the Niners' kick and punt coverage units. As I said, Career AV doesn't measure special teams value all that well, and Robinson is a clear example of that limitation. To boot, although he got 30-or-so carries per season early in his Niner career, his role in the offense was reduced to FB-in-a-pinch later on, if that. However, as was the case with Williams, a team in the 49ers position during the 2006 draft can't afford to be taking special teamers in the first 100 picks. Their roster was so weak that simply getting a part-time RB/FB and special teams stalwart represented horrible draft value.  

#5 - TE DELANIE WALKER - 6TH ROUND, PICK 175

VAE = 0.24 (120th overall, 9th among 16 TEs)

ROI = 20.93% (116th overall, 8th among TEs)

Finally, we have a 2006 draft pick who's exceeded expectations. Although a tad injury-prone early in his career, Walker has given the Niners decent production when the coaching staff has given him the chance to do so. As a converted WR, he's been able to exploit mismatches, and, more importantly, has prevented defenses from keying on Vernon Davis in the middle of the field. Add in his value on special teams - another special teamer!!! - and you can't deny Walker has been more valuable than your typical 6th-round pick. If the offensive coaches of 49ers-past had used him more wisely, he might have ended up higher on this list. Given Jim Harbuagh's TE-heavy offense, perhaps Walker's career is only just beginning.

#4 - 3-4 OLB MANNY LAWSON - 1ST ROUND, PICK 22

VAE = 1.77 (67th overall, 4th among 7 3-4 OLBs)

ROI = 46.11% (88th overall, 4th among 3-4 OLBs)

Lawson has been much-maligned by Niner fans, including me, due to his seeming lack of pass-rushing prowess as a 3-4 OLB. Of course, he's had to overcome a lot during his Niner career, so maybe we should cut him some slack. After all, he was converted to OLB from DE, he blew out his knee, and he's almost been a man without a position for the past few years. Even with all that adversity, he's still ended up having both a positive VAE and positive ROI.

#3 - 4-3 DE MELVIN OLIVER - 6TH ROUND, PICK 197

VAE = 5.00 (16th overall, 2nd among 16 4-3 DEs)

ROI = 497.03% (5th overall, 1st among 4-3 DEs)

Here's where my subjective opinions play into the rankings most. According to ROI, Oliver was 1 of the Top 10 diamonds in the rough of the 2006 draft. That's because, as a rookie, he actually had 35 tackles in 14 starts, which is waaaaaaay more production than you'd expect from the 197th pick. Unfortunately for Oliver, he blew out his knee in the Spring of 2007, and never played another down in the NFL. How do we evaluate this pick, then? Would Oliver had continued to contribute if he didn't get hurt? Who knows. The fact is that, in his single NFL season, he overachieved considerably given his draft pick. However, it's also a fact that the Niners ended up getting only 1 season of value from him, so I can't rank him any higher than #3.

#2 - TE VERNON DAVIS - 1ST ROUND, PICK 6

VAE = 0.69 (93rd overall, 7th among 16 TEs)

ROI = 12.54% (124th overall, 9th among TEs)

Another reason I can't rank Oliver above #3 is because I feel, as most of you do, that VD's career is only just starting to take off. Basically, his first 2.5 years in the league, he was a manic, underachieving diva. Part of that, of course, was probably the coaches' fault, but part of it was no doubt VD's fault. Since the middle of 2008, VD has been one of the best TEs in the league, and the hiring of Harbaugh is only going to make him better. I figure that VD's VAE and ROI stats will be much higher when it's all said and done, so I think he deserves to be moved up on this list despite those stats.

#1 - 3-4 OLB PARYS HARALSON - 5TH ROUND, PICK 140

VAE = 3.75 (28th overall, 1st among 7 3-4 OLBs)

ROI = 259.72% (22nd overall, 1st among 3-4 OLBs)

However, I can't move VD all the way up to #1 because of Parys Haralson. As a 5th-round pick, which is associated with low expectations, Haralson's been a 4-year starter, and even led the team in sacks in 2008. Furthermore, you've read that right, Haralson was the most valuable 3-4 OLB pick in the entire draft according to VAE and ROI. Now, whether or not the rest of Haralson's Niner career proceeds the way his first 5 seasons have is up for debate. I think that, compared to VD, he's probably closer to having reached his max production at this point. Nevertheless, we can't ignore the stats here. If he was the best pick at his position in the entire draft, he's earned the right to be #1 on this list.

Well, hope you've enjoyed this series. I'll definitely be using this draft evaluation framework to look at other Niner drafts of the past, and will probably do some posts on drafts by other teams. The first order of business, which will show up on Niners Nation sometime in the next month or so, is a VAE-and-ROI-based countdown of the Top 10 busts in 49er post-merger history. Hope to see you then.

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join Niners Nation

You must be a member of Niners Nation to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Niners Nation. You should read them.

Join Niners Nation

You must be a member of Niners Nation to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Niners Nation. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9341_tracker