April 27, 2012; Santa Clara, CA, USA; San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh and first round draft pick wide receiver A.J. Jenkins and general manager Trent Baalke pose for a photo at the 49ers headquarters. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-US PRESSWIRE
The 2012 NFL Draft is officially in the rear view mirror and the San Francisco 49ers have done some interesting work in addressing depth concerns at a variety of positions. They drafted a host of names most of us were not expecting, while still hitting on various depth needs. Here is a rundown of the 49ers 2012 NFL Draft class:
1 (30) - A.J. Jenkins, WR, Illinois
2 (61) - LaMichael James, RB, Oregon
4 (117) - Joe Looney, OG, Wake Forest
5 (165) - Darius Fleming, OLB, Notre Dame
6 (180) - Trent Robinson, FS, Michigan State
6 (199) - Jason Slowey, OL, Western Oregon
7 (237) - Cam Johnson, DE/OLB, Virginia
We'll go into each player individually quite a bit more in the coming days, weeks and really months. For now though, in a general sense, I am pleased with the draft class. I can say with a measure of certainty that I have to do a lot more research on several of these players. However, just from what I've seen at a cursory glance, the 49ers could be in a position to gain some much needed depth at key positions.
After the jump, I've got a few thoughts on what the 49ers did in this draft. Consider my views the slightly more homeristic positive look at things. Plenty of these picks could bust down the road. However, given that we are only one day removed from the draft, I'd prefer to consider the positives of what the 49ers did this weekend.
The 49ers opened the draft with a pair of speedsters in A.J. Jenkins and LaMichael James. The team was a bit of a clunking offense at times in 2012, with the occasional big play to make things interesting. The 49ers first two picks of the 2012 NFL Draft will hopefully ensure that is not the case this coming season.
The 49ers have a lot of wide receivers and running backs in the mix, but one has to imagine both James and Jenkins will be able to work their way into the rotation in some sense. James in particularly is a home run threat that the team can mix in the run and pass game, while also getting him some work as a return man. I don't know if it is enough to give Ted Ginn his walking papers, but it makes for an interesting training camp battle.
The 49ers added a pair of offensive linemen in guard Joe Looney and guard/center Jason Slowey. Looney suffered a Lisfranc injury to his foot during the Senior Bowl, which dropped his draft stock considerably. The injury is a dicey one because it is hard to tell his full status before he is putting a lot of weight on the foot in football activities. However, if he does fully recover, this could prove to be an absolute steal.
Slowey is a guy that folks were quickly calling the center of the future after the pick. People forget, however, that Daniel Kilgore is a guy who is viewed as a possibility at a variety of the three interior line positions. This should make for an interesting training camp battle for playing time. Add in Mike Person and somebody could be the odd man out fairly quickly.
The 49ers added some intriguing possibilities at outside linebacker. Notre Dame OLB Darius Fleming will get a shot at the OLB rotation behind Aldon Smith and Ahmad Brooks. Parys Haralson is an incumbent, but clearly the team is looking for a long-term replacement. Coach Harbaugh was asked about Fleming by NFL Network and he indicated the team also expects big things from him in special teams.
The 49ers added Virginia defensive end/outside linebacker Cam Johnson in the seventh round. He was a day two talent, but an issue with a sickle cell trait shot him down draft boards. I'm doing some more research on this as he seems to be a guy with a ton of talent, but physically cannot stay on the field for extended periods of time. As a situational pass rusher, maybe that isn't the worst thing in the world? More to come on this one.
It is just as important to note the numerous picks the 49ers acquired with their draft day wheeling and dealing. As it currently stands, the 49ers will hold 11 draft picks next year. They acquired an extra pick in the third, fifth, sixth and seventh rounds. That does not even factor in any potential compensatory picks.
Even without the comp picks, the 49ers are in excellent shape heading into next year's draft. They were in a position where they could move around on their board, but also load up on picks. It puts them in a position to wheel and deal next year if they so choose. Or they could very well keep pushing back picks until they find themselves in a more significant position of need.
Whatever the case, the team has come away from the 2012 NFL Draft with a chance to have another solid class. There are some boom/bust type picks mixed in, but I am satisfied with the upside in this class. If they hit on some of the more questionable picks, they could add considerable depth in 2012.