Now that the 2011 NFL Draft is complete, I thought I'd put together an easy post for reference on the San Francisco 49ers new draft class. The 49ers had the most picks in the draft, and while they did give some up in doing deals, they still retained ten picks. Below you can go through the list of 49ers picks and draft-day trades.
1. Aldon Smith, OLB, Missouri
2. Colin Kaepernick, QB, Nevada
3. Chris Culliver, CB, South Carolina
4. Kendall Hunter, RB, Oklahoma State
5. Daniel Kilgore, OL, Appalachian State
6. Ronald Johnson, WR, USC
7. Colin Jones, S, TCU
8. Bruce Miller, DL/FB, Central Florida
9. Michael Person, OL, Montana State
10. Curtis Holcomb, CB, Florida A&M
w/Denver: 49ers 2nd (No. 45), 4th (No. 108), 5th (No. 141) for Broncos 2nd (No. 36 - Kaepernick)
w/Jacksonville: 49ers 3rd (No. 76) for Jaguars 3rd (No. 80 - Culliver) and 6th (No. 182 - Johnson)
w/Green Bay: 49ers 6th (No. 174) and 7th (No. 231) for Packers 5th (No. 163 - Kilgore)
We'll have plenty of coverage regarding the 49ers 2011 draft class over the coming days, weeks, and months. We'll take a look at everything from how it impacts the 53-man roster to how many of these guys will end up on the practice squad. For now, I thought it was worth a brief overview of the 49ers haul. We've seen the word "developmental" used to describe this class, including from yours truly in the early NFL Draft grades post.
When we hear words like "developmental" or "raw" it seems easy for people to immediately pan the class of players. Given the 49ers struggles in recent years, people want immediate impact players that will improve the 49ers and get the team back into the playoffs. Aldon Smith will be a guy who people debate about all offseason and well into next season. People will also debate about Colin Kaepernick, but I'd imagine he'll have a bit more leeway given the expected development that will be taking place.
However, one could argue the most immediate impact will come from some of the later guys, and not necessarily in the most glamorous of pursuits. I would not be surprised if a guy like Colin Jones made an immediate impact on special teams. He will compete at the safety positions, but I can't be the only person who assumes he was brought in primarily to contribute speed and big hits on special teams. I don't know if that qualifies him as a "starter" but it definitely means he would be a key contributor.
Daniel Kilgore is another guy that I find intriguing. If I was reading the reports right, it sounds like he could work in a guard/center role. Is it possible he eventually fills Tony Wragge's old role of backup guard/center before potentially becoming the long-term answer at center? Given the 49ers struggles at the right guard position, I'd have to imagine Kilgore will find himself battling Chilo Rachal and Adam Snyder in training camp. Even if he ends up at center, he would just be following the positional paths of David Baas, Eric Heitmann, and even Jeremy Newberry.
One other guy who will be interesting to follow this first year is Bruce Miller. He played on the defensive line in college but was told by the 49ers they wanted to convert him to fullback. This came after nobody else had indicated interest in him as a fullback. The fullback role does have significance in the west coast offense, although it seemed like Coach Harbaugh's version of the West Coast at Stanford focused a little more on the tight ends than the fullbacks. Either way, will we just see another Brit Miller, or could something actually come of this Miller?
We'll go into more specific posts about each of these guys, but for now I thought it was worth just a broader discussion. It seems like in spite of the potential developmental nature of some of the 49ers picks, they might have also done a good job shoring up depth in less expected areas.