Mike Brown does not care if you have any character concerns. He doesn't care if you were convicted of a drug-related felony (talking to you, Jerome Simpson). He has no qualms about your vandalism and battery (hello Frostee Rucker). He has no issue whatsoever with your DUI conviction (looking at you, every Bengals player ever drafted). In fact, it seems to me that this owner/GM likes to sign players with character concerns. It's like you are required to have had a run-in with the law if you want to be on the Bengals. If you gained 1,000 yards receiving last year, you can rest assured the Bengals have a contract waiting for you, despite (or perhaps because of) your delinquency.
The Niners have started to follow this model of taking a chance on players who for some reason or another have had their overall stock take a hit due to injury, character concerns, or any other non-skill related factor. We signed Perrish Cox, an alleged rapist, and Randy Moss, a convicted quitter, to contracts this offseason. A lot of mock drafts have us taking players with character concerns throughout our draft. The difference is, our coaching and general team chemistry is now strong enough that we are able to deal with these potential concerns and maximize the production of our players. Just like the Patriots, who run a tight ship and are able to extract record breaking years out of their locker room cancers (2007 Moss), we have become a team that can afford to take chances on these players and reap the huge payoff for the cheap investment we put in. I think this is awesome, because the Niners have managed to expand their potential player pool that they can select from in the draft, free agency, or trades. Not only are we becoming like the Bengals, who love their high potential headcases, but we have turned into a team that can handle those headcases. Heck, if Jim Harbaugh can get a 3000 yard season out of our "bust" quarterback, he can do a lot with these high risk, high reward players. With that in mind, I present to you a 5 round mock draft featuring players who will slide due to their predraft issues being selected by the 49ers.
1st round: Alshon Jeffery
Alshon Jeffery provides good value in the lat 1st round/early second round. I know a lot of people might think that this is too high a spot for him, but his draft stock has risen in the past week or 2, and the Vikings are very interested in taking the former Gamecocks wideout with the 35th overall selection. Jeffery has had injury and weight related problems throughout his college career. The concern, however, isn't whether Jeffery is a low-effort player (he dropped from 230 lbs to 213 at USC's pro day), but whether he can be properly evaluated at a weight he simply did not play at in college. Jeffery is a guy we might be able to get away with trading down a few spots and still land, but the man had 88 receptions for 1,517 yards his junior year with a no-name quarterback, and he won't last past a team like the Vikings. Please note this is merely a thought exercise in selecting troubled talent, none of which exists for offensive linemen at this level to my knowledge. Should a player like Peter Konz or Kevin Zietler remain on the board, I would be all for their selection as an alternate to an early receiver.
2nd round: Janoris Jenkins
A bunch of mock drafts have Janoris Jenkins falling to the mid/late 2nd round. However, our M.O. of taking the BPA will prove too strong to let a talent like Jenkins pass up. He has more character concerns than any other draft prospect combined, but the man has the potential to develop into an "island" corner in the mold of DeAngelo Hall, Nnamdi Asomugha, or even Darelle Revis. There are only about 4 or 5 true shutdown corners in the NFL at one time, so if you can get past the pot abuse, there is no better man-to-man corner in the draft (Morris Claiborne is a Cover-2 corner in the mold of a Tramon Williams, not Nnamdi Asomugha).
3rd round: Greg Childs
Childs could prove to be the next mid-round receiver for a team like the Niners. Childs has ideal size for a receiver at 6'3", 219, and yet he has excellent straight-line speed for a pass catcher his size, posting a 40 time of 4.40. Childs has elite body control and is one of the most polished route runners in this draft. Childs also possess hands of glue, using his 37 inch vertical to grab the ball at its highest point. Childs also does well after the catch, often picking up a few extra crucial yards due to his ability to find and exploit weak areas in coverage quickly. In fact, I would go so far as to say that Childs is a more NFL ready prospect than Stephen Hill, and he might even be a better player flat out. So why is he falling to the third round? Childs has and injury history, which normally would not impact the draft stock of a wide receiver of his caliber. However, given the incredible depth at wide receiver that this class has, Childs will be available in later rounds as GMs won't necessarily feel the need to select Childs early should their team have receiver issues. Despite the knee surgery that Childs is coming of off however, he is worth a 3rd rounder and a chance to prove himself in our wide receiver corps.
4th round: Orson Charles
"4th round??? What the [site decorum] are you thinking Ramah71? Orson Charles is a 2nd round lock!" Well my foul mouthed friend, Orson Charles has a little thing dogging him called "character concerns", which, as you can see, greatly impacts his value in the eyes of most NFL teams. Earlier mocks indeed had him as high as mid to late 2nd round, but his stock has taken a nosedive, Jenkins style. In terms of pure talent, Charles is not far behind Coby Fleener, the consensus best tight end in the draft, though Charles is the best blocking tight end in the draft. Charles is a little short for a tight end, but he is still 2.5 inches taller than Delanie Walker, who is about 4 inches short of ideal size for a prototypical tight end. Charles is an athlete who plays faster in game than his 40 time would indicate, and he also shows excellent strength for the position, with 35 reps in the bench press, more than any other tight end. Charles has the route running skills and hands of a wideout, but at a solidly built 242 pounds. The most important attribute he has, however, is his willingness to improve as a player, a trait that should help him reach his high ceiling. He is reminiscent of an Aaron Hernandez coming out of college, and a Davis-Charles pairing may end up the next great tight end duo in the NFL.
5th round: Jacquies Smith
Jacquies Smith is a trendy sleeper pick lately. Despite injury concerns and underachivement at the collegiate level, Smith has all the tools neccessary to eventually become a starting OLB in a 3-4 scheme. At 6-3, 266 pounds, Smith is your classic 'tweener': too small to be a 4-3 defensive end, but well suited to the edge rush in a 3-4 scheme. Smith does well against the run and as a pass rusher, using his quick first step to speed his way into the backfield and wreak havoc. He is very athletic for his size, posting a 4.67 40 time and a 31.5 inch vertical. However, Smith is definitely a raw prospect who relies on his athleticism too much, and he lacks power moves against opposing blockers. Smith provides OLB depth in the short term, and he can be groomed to take over for Ahmad Brooks in 2-3 years. Smith has as good a chance as any to pan out and become a later round steal a la NaVorro Bowman.