I'm a long time Niners fan and blog lurker. This FanPost will take an in-depth look at how our depth chart is currently setup as well as how we can use this year's draft to improve our roster for years to come.
In order to evaluate our own roster depth chart and needs, I wanted to take a look at the NFL as a whole in historical context. I went back 22 years and compiled all of the All-Pro seasons, at all positions, and found out what Age they were and what Draft Pick they were.
Each position below will be analyzed in the context of these two criteria: Age and Draft Pick.
For the Age distribution plots, you can see at what age range the majority (aka: 25% quantile through the 75% quantile) of players were when they had their All-Pro season. This is valuable in quantifying a position's "prime" age range we always hear about. You'd be surprised how much it varies from position to position.
For the Draft Pick distribution plots, you can see which range of draft picks produce the majority (again, 25% quantile through 75% quantile) of All-Pro seasons for a specific position. This helps us determine the cutoffs in the draft where we can get a potential All-Pro at a certain position, as well as telling us what would be considered "too soon" to draft a certain position.
Alright, let's get to it. Positions below are sorted from "can be addressed late in the draft" to "needs to be addressed with an early round draft pick."
Phil Dawson signed on this year as a 37 year old undrafted kicker. He's been a Pro-Bowler but never went All-Pro. 37 is way past a kicker's prime. I would never want to throw a rookie kicker into a playoff game, so we're set at this position.
We still have 3-time All-Pro Andy Lee punting for us. He's 30 years old and has a solid 3 years left in his prime. We're set here.
Center is a question mark for us. Goodwin is 34 and past prime, while Kilgore is 25 and four years from his prime. We should address this position late in the draft in case Kilgore does not pan out for us. This year's 246th comp pick would be a good spot to find our center of the futur, because the majority of All-Pro centers have come from Pick #36 through Pick #246.
At age 29, Vernon Davis is already past his prime. Not only do the 49ers like to run 2-TE sets, but we also need to groom his eventual replacement. We could use our 131st comp pick to address this, because the majority of All-Pro TE's come from Pick #13 through Pick #192.
We're truly blessed at this position. With Willis and Bowman, we have a combined 7 All-Pro seasons at ILB. Bowman is just coming into his prime at Age 25 and Willis has a few years left in his (28). We're set. In fact, with defenses trending more towards Nickel and Dime, we may want to consider trading away our excess in talent at ILB.
Kaepernick (25) and McCoy (25) are still three years from their prime. We're set with QB potential.
Aldon Smith (23) is a stud already with an All-Pro season under his belt. However, Ahmad Brooks (29) is at the end of his prime and doesn't have a strong draft pedigree (97th pick). Haralson (29) is also not getting younger and went 140th in his draft. The other side opposite Aldon Smith is a big question mark and we should address this in the draft at pick #74, since the majority of All-Pro OLB's come from Picks #10 through #91.
Potential-wise, we're actually in pretty good shape here. We have two young WR's with strong draft pedigrees, Crabtree (25, Pick #10) and Jenkins (23, Pick #30). Boldin's solid but way past his prime, and Manningham (Pick #95) and Williams (Pick #206) aren't high-potential prospects. We could draft another WR for insurance, but it's not a priority.
Justin Smith (33) is an All-Pro but we should expect his eventual decline. Dorsey (27, Drafted #5) was a smart pick-up. He has great potential and is in the middle of his prime. McDonald (Drafted #97) does not have much potential. DE is a high draft priority for us.
Whitner (27, Drafted #8) is in the middle of his prime and should be showing improvements. Dahl was an undrafted prospect and is a huge question mark. Safety is a high draft priority and we should nab one at Pick #61, because All-Pro safeties are typically taken between #19 through #61.
Rogers (31) and Asomugha (31) are past their primes. Brown (147th pick) and Culliver (80th pick) are low potential prospects. Both CB positions need to be addressed ASAP.
Iupati (25) has already went All-Pro once but Boone (Undrafted) and Looney (117th Pick) are suspect. We should use the 34th pick to groom our other guard, since All-Pro G's are typically taken at #17 through #50.
Both of our defensive tackles are low-potential - Williams (undrafted) and Divens (undrafted.) Our 31st pick should be a DT, since All-Pro DT's usually go from Pick #8 through #49.
Anthony Davis (11th pick) has potential, but hasn't lived up to it just yet. Surprisingly, Joe Staley (28th pick) doesn't fit the draft pedigree of the majority of All-Pro tackles, who are usually drafted #3 through #12. We should address this position, but we don't have a draft pick high enough to draft another OT this time.
2013 Draft Recap