There has been a lot of focus on the 49ers 2011 draft class and rightfully so. However, I think it is important to look at their 2010 draft class. In grading the 49ers current crop of new youngsters we really have nothing to base our information in; at least in regards to NFL performance.
On that note, I think that it is possible to judge the 49ers 2010 draft class based on each players performance during their rookie seasons. That said, we must also reserve judgement a bit until each player has had ample opportunity to prove themselves.
In doing this article I am going to not just look at the players our San Francisco 49ers drafted, but other players that were on the board at need positions when said player was drafted.
Today, I am going to start with Anthony Davis, 11th pick from the 2011 NFL Draft.
1st Round, 11th Pick: OT- Anthony Davis Rutgers
The 49ers traded up two spots, from 13 to 11, in order to select Rutgers tackle, Anthony Davis. It was an extremely interesting move as many speculated that Davis would have been available at 13. However, we have learned since that both the Miami Dolphins and Denver Broncos were extremely interested in Davis. The 49ers did give up the 113th pick in the draft, which ended up being TE- Aaron Hernandez.
Anthony Davis, who started from day one had ups and downs during his rookie season. However, I do believe that he showed a great deal of progression during year one. Being asked to start at tackle your rookie season is no small task. It is one of the toughest and most important positions in the game of football. This is magnified when you are making the jump from the college level to the NFL.
Still, Anthony Davis showed a great deal of promise and ability at that position last season. We saw him grow up right in front of our eyes and the proverbial "bust factor" when it comes to tackles in the 1st round has all but been dropped from his name.
Davis worked with Mike Solari in his technique a great deal last season and it showed as the weeks progressed. I saw him being caught off balance much less, and the penalties ended up being a non-factor the more experience he got. Of course, there were still issues in regards too standing to straight and blocking too stiff at times, but that can easily be addressed with the right coaching and more experience.
My expectations for Davis in year two is for him to take that next step and become an elite tackle in the NFL. He has all the athletic ability to do so. That coupled with some great additions in the coaching staff leads me to believe that he is prime for a breakout season. Davis has untapped potential; I am just waiting for it to come to fruition.
Available Players at 11
1st Round, 13th Pick: DE- Brandon Graham Michigan
2010 Stats: 12 Tackles, 3 Sacks, 2 Forced Fumbles
Analysis: Graham wasn't much of a factor for the Eagles defense in 2010. In fact, players that were drafted much later such as Carlos Dunlap, Greg Hardy and even George Selvie had more impact for their respective teams. That said, injuries seemed to slow Graham down a bit.
I see him having the ability to be a 10 sack player in the NFL, but he has to make dramatic improvements in 2011. Graham was pretty much a "not ready for prime time player" his rookie season. This really needs to change for the Eagles to get value at 13 from the 2010 draft.
1st Round, 14th Pick: S- Earl Thomas Texas
2010 Stats: 60 Tackles, 5 INT, 1 Forced Fumble, 7 Passes Defended
Analysis: It must have been extremely hard for the 49ers to pass up on a talent like Earl Thomas, but they decided to go for the bigger need. It worked out perfectly fine for the Seattle Seahawks. Arguably, Earl Thomas had an all-pro rookie season at safety for Seattle. He forced a total of six turnovers, including a rookie high 5 picks.
There is no doubt in my mind that Thomas is going to be a perennial pro-bowler for the Hawks over the duration of his career, it is just too bad that he is in the 49ers division.
1st Round, 15th Pick: DE- Jason Pierre-Paul South Florida
2010 Stats: 17 Tackles, 4.5 Sacks, 2 Forced Fumbes
Analysis: We all knew that Paul was going to be a bit of a project heading into the 2010 draft and it turned out that way. He was extremely raw early on in the season, but picked it up technique wise as his rookie campaign dragged on. He has untapped potential and could turn into a sack machine for the Giants in the near future.That said, I am not completely sold that Paul will ever live up to his potential.
1st Round, 16th Pick: DE- Derrick Morgan Georgia Tech
2010 Stats: 3 Tackles, 1.5 Sacks
Analysis: Morgan was a projected top ten pick leading up to the draft, but fell to #16 on draft day. Well, the fall now apparently seems to make sense. Derrick Morgan has bust written all over him; talent that won't quit, but technique that doesn't match that talent.
I honestly believe that Derrick Morgan will probably continue to under perform throughout his career and never live up to his 1st round billing. I hope that I am wrong, but I just don't see much out of him moving forward as it comes to production in the NFL.
Synopsis: I doing research and looking back at the 2010 1st round I have come to the conclusion that the 49ers made pretty much the perfect selection in Anthony Davis. In coming to that conclusion I looked at the potential players that 49ers could have selected at need positions with that pick. With the exception of Earl Thomas I really see no one that will have the impact that I believe Davis will have in the NFL.
Given the fact that the 49ers were able to get Taylor Mays in the 2nd round (separate post on him later), it makes sense that the 49ers took the tackle here and waited for safety help later.
2010 Tackle Rankings One Year Later
1. Anthony Davis San Francisco 49ers 11th Pick
2. Russell Okung Seattle Seahawks 6th Pick